7th April …Tarragona
Just before we left El Campello we said our goodbyes to Roy and Susan and promised to keep in touch with them so that we can meet up with them at some time in the future. We chose Tarragona as our destination for the day as it was well over half way towards our journey to Collioure and our visit with my old mate Paul Ridley. So that day we drove 298 miles and we didn’t like the look of the Aires we had intended to be our resting place for the night so we drove on and stopped at just about the most perfect camp site. The chap that took us to look at available pitches said that the weather that day was the best they had for quite a while. He led us to a pitch just 15 meters from the gate onto a beautiful beach in a sheltered bay and even though we were now in northern Spain the beach was surprisingly busy for the time of year. It didn’t take us long to set up and we were soon walking on the sands towards some cafes we could see at the other end of the beach. We both agreed that if it wasn’t for the arrangement we had made with Paul then we certainly given this campsite more time.
8th, 9th, 10th April…..Collioure
We left the campsite and we only had another 199 miles to do and unlike last year when we drove over the mountains we decided to take a more direct route. We passed lots of ladies at the ends of lanes sitting on white plastic chairs (this seems to be the badge of office) offering their dubious wares for anyone brave enough to stop. There surely must be a better way of earning a living. As we got very close to the border between Spain and France we came across a very busy place called La Jonquera on the Spanish side and Le Porthus on the French side. There were huge warehouse stores advertising all manner of goods for sale and around the smaller shops people thronged the area. The Spanish come here for cheap French goods and vice versa for the French people. Because lorry drivers in France cannot driver over most of a weekend then there are lots of lorry parking and clubs advertising “Girls” which we are reliably told that they are nothing else but brothels. Anyone know of anyone constantly driving down between Spain and France?
We arrived at the campsite just outside Collioure and the lady there said that it would take 20 minutes to walk into Collioure along the main road and 30 minutes to walk there taking the beach route. The wind was blowing very hard off the sea but we elected to go along the beach. We left the campsite using the rear gate and walked down towards the sea. There was a small beach and we had to jump over quite a stream. There a French man pointed up at a narrow path that went up and over the hill and it was quite a stiff climb. Meanwhile the wind howled in and it was difficult to remain upright especially at the top. We followed the narrow path and we were both grateful that at least the wind wasn’t blowing the other way. The narrow path continued and after another sharp descent and an equally steep climb we could final see the beautiful Collioure. Elaine and I agreed…..there was no way we were coming back that way in the dark.
We had a wander around the very up market, arty back streets and then met up with Paul in the Templiers Bar where the walls are lined with original paintings and it was as if we had entered an art gallery. After a very pleasant evening Paul ran us back and he offered to take us out the next day.
He took us to Ceret where there was a very large street market and we enjoyed looking at the many stalls. It is coming back to us just how much we love France. Paul dropped us back at the site as he had an appointment with his television so he could watch Brentford, his football team. Later on Paul and I went back to the same bar and I taught him and his friends a dice game which went down very well. We met up again on Sunday but we left Paul early afternoon because he had to work the next day and we would be driving on.
11th, 12th, 13th April…..Aix en Province
We missed this area out last year so we were determined to pay this area a visit. As we drove on we entered the Camargue area of France. We went passed many salt lakes and saw lots of flamingos, heads down, wading in the shallow waters. Much more exciting than that was when we started to pass lots of white horses.
These were Camargue horses and they are indigenous to this area and it is generally accepted to be one of the oldest breeds in the world. For centuries, possibly thousands of years, these small horses have lived wild in the harsh environment of the Camargue marshes and wetlands of the Rhone Delta.
The nearest campsite with a regular bus route to Aix en Province is at Beaurecuil and the city is 8 km away along narrow country lanes. The campsite is situated at the foot of the Sainte Victoire mountain range which dominates the whole area.
Aix en Province
The return bus fare from the camp to the city centre is only 2 euros each and Tuesday we went off early and had quite a full day wandering around the enchanting city. Whist we were there we did buy some lavender bags and some nougat made with honey instead of being sugar based and both things are specialities of the area. The tour of the city took us passed lots of fountains and different areas of the city centre had specialist markets so in one area was the flower market, in another was the flee-market etc.
Please excuse the delays in sending these blogs……to get sufficient, safe wi-fi to send these reports causes more problems than you could possibly imagine.
Today the 13th Elaine and I have just relaxed and have just enjoyed lazing the day away in the lovely sunshine. We haven’t decided yet which route to take across France so we will have the maps and the books out and we will decide this evening where we will go next.