Friday, 11 December 2009

France, part six - the seaside!

Our sixth day was to be a trip to the seaside - Banyuls, to be precise, (on the East coast - the Med), famous for its wine (which I don't like).
However, I DO like the sea and the mountains, and there was plenty of both on this trip.
The day started out looking fantastic. Canigou peeped over the ridge as we left Nyer, and a necklace of cloud made it look all the better.

We crossed a small gorge by this bridge - it was quite deep,
and the autumnal colours were lovely.

All I can say here is WOW!

After a trip of less than an hour, we arrived in Banyuls, start (or end) of the GR10 long distance walk. At over 800 kilometres, it's not one for beginners. This was the walk that Brenda & Mannes were doing when we first met them back in 2002. They had stood beneath this very plaque, after their epic sojourn.

The earlier bright sky was now looking decidedly angry! Brenda & Mannes dropped us off on the sea front, and went off into the hills to walk to dogs, leaving us to find a little cafe for some lunch.

There's a quite nice prom', which we walked along, but all the time, the wind was getting up, and spots of rain started to fall, driven by a strengthening wind.

We took these few pics, then went into what I can only describe as a tent! The cafes and restaurants all have these tent things on the beach side of the road. The proper brick-built structures are on the landward side of the road, and they shuttle food across the road on trays. Not a bad idea on a balmy evening, but TODAY!!!

Anyway, we sat in the cafe just as the rain became really hard, and the wind started gusting up to what felt like hurricane force. I kid you not, these tent things were rattling like they were going to get blown away at ANY minute. The waitress asked us if we'd 'like to move across to the cafe' - we agreed - and scuttled over the road. We felt like two of the little pigs that had been in the straw house with the wolf huffing and puffing, and ALMOST blowing the house down. Anyway, things were a lot more sedate, and we sat and enjoyed a very nice lunch, also a surprisingly good cup of coffee.

Before we left, I decided to go to the toilet - only to be reminded that we were in rural France!

Brenda & Mannes returned with stories of the vicious winds they had encountered on the tops. They didn't get to walk the dogs as the wind was too fierce. They had even had to stop the car on the journey back for fear of being blown off the road.

As soon as it had arrived, the rain and wind stopped - just like that! So, with things a bit calmer, we set off up into the hills again. This was vine country, and we saw evidence of cork cutting from the many cork oaks that were around the vineyards. These oaks are grown particularly for their bark, which vintners use to cork the bottles.

This field was the Grenache variety;

The sky was clearing now, slowly though.
This was the view North from the hills above Banyuls.
We could see the mountain called 'Bugarach'. We had climbed this one on a previous visit to France.

You can see the pics here;

Just LOOK at that sky - it's like something out of Armageddon.

Looking back to Banyuls, and the aesthetically pleasing bridge across the valley.

The only fungi I'd seen so far in France.
I'm told by a friend it's a parasol mushroom, edible and delicious!
A very nice specimen.

The sun was there behind the clouds, but so far defeated from showing itself.

Soon, we were nearing home and the sky at last cleared a little.
I saw this barn standing stark against the sky and fields, and just thought it made a really nice subject.

A light sprinkling of snow had fallen on the mighty Canigou while we were away.
This was just the start of the winter blanket to come.

In this part of France, all the villages, no matter HOW small, have these wonderful signs, each one depicting a feature of the village, or the village itself (like Eus on the hill). They are a credit to whoever does them.
When I think of the sad signs that Bakewell has, it makes me despair.
This sort of thing is worth its weight in gold, and will last and last.

Here is Eus in the evening. I didn't get a picture of the sign, but it's almost this scene.
Beautiful, isn't it?

Just one more day to go. The week has flown by, but we've managed to pack a lot in, as usual.

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