France Sept/Oct 2013

Friday 18th Met Karine at the Tourist Information, a very vivacious girl who knew and liked to visit Cornwall, who gave  us a more optimistic picture of the area and we walked around the town a couple of times – still not very impressive! Headed of to Roscoff to get the 4.30 boatvia our usual stops – diesel at £1.10 a litre and lots of wine at ridiculous prices. Smooth crossing – not many on the boat and we got off and through immigration and customs in record time – 5 minutes or less. Rained most of the way home! Welcome back.

Thurs 17th Stopped at Belle Isle en terre in Brittany and we were surprised how lit had changed, and not for the better. Many properties and businesses for sale and town devastated by drainage works. Nevertheless we found the only hotel to be excellent and dinner was like an episode of Masterchef.

Wed 16th. On the road at 8.30 and after 433 miles arrived at  our halfway stop in St Amande Montrond at the Noir Lac Hotel. Great driving little traffic – just like the old days in UK. We did 3 and half hours each. Ready for a glass of Rose methinks.

Tuesday 15th. On our last day here before setting off for the long journey home. Really nice day so we did our 3 miles early along the coast before starting to pack things up. Think we’re ready to leave but it seems sad all the same. Just off for a last swim in the sea – water still quite warm. Started packing!

Jean's rock on the Port Grimaud walk

Jean’s rock on the Port Grimaud walk

Sunrise this morning

Sunrise this morning

Sunday 13th October. Sunny but still cold (for here) Went to Croix Valmer market and bought a few things. A change not to have to push through loads of people. Back for a quick cup of tea and a face-time with Wendy and off to St Maxime for a walk and a view of the air show over the bay. After a long wait it started at 2.30 and was fantastic. Equipe de Voltige – free drop display of incredible daring. You can watch it on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVhxZcW-lmc The French equivalent of the Red Arrows (le Patrouille) starts at 5 but we can watch that here at home as we saw them practicing on Friday. Starting to think about going home to Cornwall and clearing up some of the mess here as well as throwing lots of things out (including the ancient electric BBQ). Now sitting in the garden admiring the tree trimming which has enhanced the view of the valley and Gassin.

Sat Oct 12th. Still cold but not a cloud in the sky and went for a long walk at Port Grimaud – unbelievably beautiful. Then finished off garden tree trimming before lunch. Jean cleaning house. Off to Les Sarments tonight one of our favourite restaurants just up the road  – nice old fashioned Provencal dining room.

Fri October 11th. Sudden change in the weather – plenty of sun but much colder, in fact 10 this morning was the same as St Austell. Went to St Tropez to do coastal walk but picked bad day as the main road into the town under repair and the  temporary traffic lights have completely choked the regions traffic. Great walk and interesting happenings in the town – film set on the walk and a big funeral with loads of security in the main church. Large cruise ship in the bay with loads of visitors. All in all not a good day to visit and even worse the traffic on the way back was backed up into the town. Glad to get back home where we are sitting with jumpers on as it has only just reached 16 degrees! Good day to tidy up the garden. Ate in with  delicious left overs from the dinner party and then early night.

Oct 9th After morning walk spent most of the day preparing for dinner party for 7. Ate outside but a bit chilly. Jean did her now famous Jambalaya and I did the starters and served (too much) the wine. First day we missed our swim – the sea is now warmer than the pool.

Oct 9th  Back to full sun after a couple of showery days. After morning walk did shopping for dinner party tomorrow evening, lunch in the garden and then off to the beach at Gigaro. Sea very warm and air temperature not too hot (25). Quiet evening eating out on the patio. It’s a hard life!  Another advantage of being off season is no gypos trying to wash your windscreen at the traffic lights. Oh and no charge for parking anywhere!

Le Lavendou 007

Walking coast at Le Lavendou

Walking coast at Le Lavendou

coastal walk

coastal walk

October 8th. Very quiet here as most of the tourists have gone home – no traffic, no queues at the supermarket , autumn has started although its still pretty warm. Had a couple of thunderstorms yesterday and that has cleared the air. Took the local bus along the coast to Le Lavendou and walked the coastal path. Lunch in the town and bus back. It’s 3 euros (gone up 50% since June) for as far as you want to go with a connection for the 2 hours after you get off. Sounds complicated but it’s good value without the hassle of driving or parking when you get there. Went for swim at 5.30 as we have done every day bar one (lightning).

Two notable events this week: we now have the internet in our chalet (instead of having to go to a bar or the clubhouse) and it works! Secondly I just submitted my last assignment for my OU BA degree – results on 29th November. Now to decide where to go for the graduation ceremony. Don’t know who is more pleased – me or Jean! Congenial conversation now resumed! The internet, strangely enough gives an even greater feeling of isolation – we know what’s going on in the rest of the world and particularly in the UK, but we seem so far removed from it all. Are we becoming hermits!

leaving harbour

leaving harbour

over 100 years old

over 100 years old

viewing point for Regatta

viewing point for Regatta

jeanstropez 018

Sept 30th  Went to St Tropez to watch the big sailing event – on all week – over 200 ocean going vessels with races and events every day. Gin palaces cleared out for the week so quite a change. photo (1)Entertained French neighbours with a flute recital and food and wine.

Soiree with French neighbours

Soiree with French neighbours

Jean relaxes in hammock

Jean relaxes in hammock

say hello to an octopus!say hello to an octopus!

One of Generali Solo vessels leaving Cavalaire for Barcelona

One of Generali Solo vessels leaving Cavalaire for Barcelona

Sunday 22nd Sept.  Improvement in internet this weekend so some more pics uploaded. Great spectacle at Cavalaire with the start of the Generali Solo Event. Unfortunately the sun was so bright I couldn’t see the screen to capture all the sail.

Friday 20th Sept.  Forgot to report last week that the vendange has started thus ensuring continuity of supply for the future. Prospective visitors can breathe a sigh of relief! Went to St Aygulf this morning and walked along the coast – fantastic views on another perfect morning.  Lack of pictures due to poor or even non existent internet connection. Finding it difficult to do my Open University final assignment without web access – still ploughing on 2000 more words to go. Now know more about Africa and their political approach to the use of English than ever before.

Monday  16th Sept.  Weather is unbelievably good for September although we have had, each Sunday morning (2), massive thunderstorms although it always recovers well and we were in the pool by lunchtime on both occasions. For the bird lovers crested tits are back on our feeder.

Sept. 9th One week nearly gone and we have settled into a routine: early morning walk while still cool, breakfast, work around house and garden, swim in pool, wine about 7.30 and evening meal. Today being my birthday we went for a combination of walking a boat rides to St Maxime  and St Tropez, Refreshed plants in garden, swim and meal out at Azure Bleu on the beach. Variations on theme really!

Notice many more joggers and runners this year as well as the usual cyclists. Are the French going for the Olympics in style or are they making room, like us, for more delicious food? The internet here is very unreliable so some days none at all. At least it’s an excuse for not updating the blog for my reader! We’re getting a new system next month so it should improve.

Just a reminder of our little h(e)aven down here.

coastal path from St Tropez

coastal path from St Tropez

patio

patio

Cavalaire harbour

Cavalaire harbour

Tuesday 3rd September arrive at our house in Chenes Lieges. Thank you to Roger and Hannah who left the place very clean and tidy and even swept the patio!. Unpacked and straight into pool. Hot, hot 32 plus.

Monday 2nd Sept – left Bordeaux then nearly went back in – but on motorway to Pezenas an old haunt of ours from family hols in Agde. Great hotel quite at random on outskirts of town spent rest of day there as it was seriously hot in the 30s. Nice pool to cool off and great dinner in evening.

View from room in Pezenas

View from room in Pezenas

Sunday 1st Sept – after great breakfast at hotel took tram down to river and walked the frontage which is impressive. Beautiful 19th century building well back from river giving plenty of leisure space, created by demolishing old wine warehouses. Busy market  and loads of cyclists, walkers and runners. Beautiful weather made it even nicer. Went off to……the pub again….where we met Laure Mathew’s charming girlfriend and went to an Italian restaurant – friend of Mat again – for great lunch. Novelty was wine cellar, which you had to visit to choose you bottle. Quiet afternoon, more walking around centre of town, before meeting at…Houses of Parliament…where Mat was working all evening. After a couple of pints of Newcastle Brown Ale on draught we went off for a meal and left Mat to work.

Mirror lake and Bourse for wine trading

Mirror lake and Bourse for wine trading

Old bride over River Gironde

Old bridge over River Gironde

Sunday 31st August – Set off for Bordeaux – it’s mostly motorway but the traffic was heavy around Nantes. Without a map we had great difficulty in finding our hotel to say nothing of the one way streets, trams and traffic in general. However it got better as the hotel was a great reasonably priced Ibis and we met up with Matthew at his pub The Houses of Parliament. Great to see him and we went to a fish restaurant which was superb (table courtesy of Mats friend who owned it). Great to catch up on his news and life in the centre of Bordeaux.

Mat and Geoff in the 'Houses of Parliament'

Mat and Geoff in the ‘Houses of Parliament’

29th August – Departed 8 am boat from Plymouth to Roscoff. Beautiful day, flat calm, on time at 3 pm French time. Drove to La Baule to be met by Daniel and Michelle at the station because we couldn’t remember their address or location. Lovely house, lovely family, great accommodation. Next day we went to the new La Baule market and chose a large fish for lunch, eaten outside. Daughter Reine and her 3 children (19,15 & 13) arrived in the afternoon and we spent a great 2 hours talking French with the adults and English with the children. Set off for a walk on the beach – it’s 12 Km long so we didn’t go the whole way. Went out for meal in evening at a beach restaurant.

Geoff Daniel and Michelle after lunch

Geoff Daniel and Michelle after lunch

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