Friday 14th November
What do you mean, about time he wrote another blog, I’ve been rushed off my feet this week!
We eventually left Portigagne Plage on Wednesday with the intention of visiting Beziers, we had no real reason to visit but it was close and as I said, we needed wine. There were a lot of roadworks and after a couple of false starts we ended up in the middle of Beziers trundling down narrow roads with nowhere to park so we decided to get out of town and head back to the sea.
St Pierre la Mer looked OK (Number 59, Mediterranean) and once we’d worked out the gate system and found a spot the sun came out and it was decided that we’d stay here until whenever. Just outside the site was a large lagoon where you can go sailing in the summer. The view above is from the other side of the lagoon, with our backs to the sea. You can just see two motorhomes to the right, actually one motorhome and one converted coach. We managed to walk into town and found shops open and a self service launderette.
Once back at Frankie it was chairs out time and sit in the sun with a lovely glass of Lidl’s best rouge.
The following day the sun was even hotter so we took our bikes along the front with a large bag of washing hanging off the back of my bike and a French lunch in my rucsac, funny how I get to carry everything. While the washing was doing whatever it does we rode further along the front and found the marina. Above is a shot of what I think are Grey Mullet, easy to spot but not easy to catch. They didn’t like the bit of crust that I threw them.
We sat on the beach, read our Kindles and had a great time waiting for the washing to dry and eventually made our way back to the van.
Frankie has got a large payload, 875kg but we don’t have a garage, just underfloor storage areas. I hear people saying they must have a garage and the bigger the better. This is one of the garages from that coach pictured above. All I’m saying is, it doesn’t matter how large your garage is, you will find something to fill it with. The list of things that we had to leave behind is amazing but we haven’t missed any of it and have already found a few essential things that were packed that shouldn’t have been.
We spent two days at St Pierre la Mer and could have stayed longer but the weather was a bit cloudy Friday morning and we were paying €7 a night!! We’ve almost doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on site fees now, it’s up to something like €36.Anyway, it was time to move on. Lucy wanted to visit Carcassonne and we thought it better not to visit on a Sunday so the plan was to visit Argens Minervois (Number 52, Mediterranean) for no better reason than it was halfway between where we are and where we wanted to go. We arrived there at mid day and found that the aire was closed. Stella showed another stopping area 200 yards away so we stopped there and had lunch.
There were no signs, no one else about and it felt a bit, not right, if you know what I mean so we decided to head on for Carcossonne after eating.
And here’s the Aire at Carcossonne. (Number 6, Mediterranean). Frankie is hiding behind another van. We can just see the tops of Carcassonne Castle from the aire and it was a five minute walk to the old city gates.
This is the main entrance into the old city. For some reason we were expecting to pay to enter the old city but there was nowhere to pay and we strolled in with everyone else.
Through the first gates and looking through the second gate you can see either the tourist tat shops or notice the two slots for the portcullis’s, spot the murder holes above the gate and the arrow slots each side of the gate in case you were unlucky enough to get this far.
The streets inside the inner wall are narrow but quaint.
You have to pay to get into the inner castle and here we have a few general views. The castle was originally Gallo Roman, originally inhabited over 2500 years ago. Much smaller then, it was visited and taken in turn by the Visigoths, Saracens and Franks.
Eagles nest in the roof tops. But then the pigeons kicked them all out.
In the 12th Century the castle was occupied by the Trenceval dynasty, one of the most powerful families in the south of France. In 1208 Pope Innocent III called for a crusade against the Cathars who were practising their heresy in this area. The northern lords spotting an opportunity to gain lands sent large numbers of soldiers to the whole area, sacking Beziers and massacring 6000 people and then moving onto Carcassonne. At this time the town became part of the royal domain and was heavily fortified.
Up until 1659 the castle was used to protect the border between France and Aragon but the Treaty of the Pyrenees meant that the castle was no longer in a strategic defensive position.
It wasn’t until the 19th Century when it was restored by architect Viollet-le-Duc. Unfortunatley it is difficult to see what was original and what was just a fanciful notion of how the castle may have looked. At first glance the castle does look complete and in very good condition, but as you walk round on the tour and various parts have been pointed out to you do you notice where one set of stone is different to another. Some of the towers have been almost completely rebuilt since the original stones had been taken for buildings elsewhere.
Even so, it is still an impressive sight and well worth visiting if you are in the area.
Heres the route so far. It’s taken us nearly four weeks – we spoke to an English couple who have just made it in three days.