Reunion with friends, and a drive in the countryside

Another sunny and stunningly beautiful day in south of France!
Yesterday we rose and drove on a new road toward Carcassonne. We had a plan and time commitment to meet Glenn and Maggie Wicks (who I met on Cunard cruise last year, Baltic cruise). They are vacationing a few days in this fabulous place and so we planned to have a happy reunion.
On route we drove through some new towns and started by programming the GPS through Capestang. We made a few unplanned stops just to see what was there 🙂 and stopped at a wine store, of course! Steve bought Armagnac from Toulouse region as a gift for his son back home. Lovely. Mom purchased a fantastic book of “the Wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon” by Wendy Gedney. Fantastic watercolor illustrations and written in English.
Chapter 5, eastern Languedoc is our region between Narbonne and Nimes and spots in between. I am looking forward to reading it cover to cover before my mom takes it back with her to Nova Scotia. What a find!
We managed to arrive in Carcassonne in time for our reunion with Maggie and Glenn, the sun shining and although a cool breeze, we sat outside and enjoyed people watching and catching up on our lives and remembering how we met:) I loved the chat, and warm hugs from this great couple!
A few hours enjoying their company, we also then walked around inside the walls and saw their accommodations … like a bed and breakfast / guest house. Very inexpensive, very old and the fabulous and gracious hostess even walked out to the gate to meet them and show them to their place to stay. Inside was magic! Walking up an ancient spiral turret staircase to their floor and the great view out their window. Modernized bathroom of course and very quaint! La Demeure de la Cite, Maison d’hotes is the name … if you are ever in need of a fantastic place to stay in this location 🙂
On the way back to the villa I programmed in the GPS to stop in Minerve, another Plus Beaux Villages of France. We had tried to get their previously but got waylayed by a fantastic wine tasting. This time, despite the late hour of the day I wanted to get there before the sun went down. It was lovely.  
The public parking is quite a distance from the village, so we just stopped in a handicapped parking zone, near the bus parking. No other parked cars that we could see. The town was all but deserted and most shops closed up tight, likely for the season. A few open doors beckoned visitors to stop in for wine, chocolate or ??? I think just wine and chocolate! ha ha – what else could one need here?
The views and sights were spectacular. As this area is deep in what looked to be a quarry at first, was actually carved from the stone walls by rivers from very long ago. Smooth and very unique carvings completely surrounded this village. In fact we were driving and could not see a thing coming, knowing the village was less than 600 meters away by the GPS and then it came in to view. Down down we drove and around and around as if driving down switchbacks from a mountain. Spectacular carvings cutting across layers of coloured and textured stone. Almost speechless, “look there, and there, and OMG, look over there ….” Just wow!  
Once we got out of the car we started snapping pictures and wondering how this all happened. What must it be like to live here? surrounded by caves and carvings and mulitcolored layers of stone dating back before time.
Ancient midevil village dating back 2000 years! Limestone canyon eroded by glaciers and rivers making the valley look like a giant quarry filled with caves and tunnels. Deep riverbed canyon, worn sedimentary layers of rock swirling through the sides and surrounding the town. A fortress was here once, with access by bridges, over water perhaps?  
On the drive back to Roujan and watching the sun slowly disappear over the horizon and then the sky turning multi coloured … we entered some small towns again. Driving through there is often a speed limit posted for “in town”driving. A few places have electronic sign posts to tell the drivers the speed they are going. And if you reach the limit posted or below a huge green Happy Face appears! I was delighted and found myself wanting to keep receiving this positive feedback. Great idea for back home, instead of words in red, visual positive universal messages in pleasant green. Love it!
And we have been told by some people we met in Europe that the large plane trees lining the roads were so ordered to be planted by Napoleon, the emperor at the time … as shading for his troops as they marked along the road ways. So old, so lovely and really a demonstration of caring by a leader in the past towards the men who worked for their country.
One of my favourite sights this trip has been driving these roadways lined with magnificent trees providing postcard vistas for the driver, tourists and locals alike to enjoy. If I found a calendar or postcard with the sights I have seen, I would buy them! Usually in the backdrop are the vineyards in midst of changing fall colours, different varietals to different hues, different locations on the hillsides or flat valley floors.  
Eye candy at its finest – I love the south of France in the autumn season!  
ciao from Pamela, in France


One comment on “Reunion with friends, and a drive in the countryside

  1. gailgrant49 says:

    I’d like to see these lovely towns, maybe next October, that you are taLking about especially Minerva. I’ve heard that name before. Sounds fascinating.

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