Wow, what a day! The sun was back to play today and the view from the velux window of the Cité Medievale was so inviting it made us rush out for a pre-breakfast walk to say hello to the Canal du Midi. It was then sun all day, including on our hotel balcony in Meyrueis where we are now sat drinking a very welcome chilled beer and eating anchovies from Collioure.
After breakfast (our only one taken in the hotel) we put our walking shoes on again and set off to tackle the cobbles and tourists of the Cité Medievale. Despite being early it was soon busy with lots of different languages being spoken, but the view of the snow capped Pyrenees (sorry I lied to you yesterday, I really thought we had said goodbye, but I was wrong), and a coffee in the sun made up for the crowds.
Today has been a great driving day with constantly changing scenery, sometimes with each turn of a corner. We have seen craggy rocks, soft undulating hills, dark and feathery pine forests that we could smell through the open windows, beech forests whose first leaves had just appeared, bright lush green pastures and even circling vultures in the Tarn Gorges, that meant we delayed our arrival at the hotel by half an hour.
After leaving behind Carcassonne, the friendly French couple at the petrol station (in their Discovery, drooling over the Mini) and the ladies on every street corner trying to sell us bunches of Lily of the Valley (a French tradition on May 1st), we followed the Canal du Midi for a while before turning off onto the Gorges de la Cabrespine (982m) and entering the Black Mountains. We wound our way from pass to pass, catching a glimpse of the snowy Pyrenees every now and then, in fact we saw more of them today than we did when we were in Saint Gaudens. Lunch was on a very quiet mossy gorge road surrounded by beech forests, where, when we looked closely, we could still see small patches of iced snow. The Black Mountains became the Monts de L’Espinouse in the Haute Languedoc and at the top of the Col de Salette at Roc Suzadou (720m) we saw the Mediterranean. We also rounded a bend and saw a young bull in the middle of the road and I’m not too sure who was more surprised by this encounter, him or us!
This afternoon a rally of Gordini Renaults drove past us, which was a lovely sight, but as Mini Coopers were their main competition in the 60’s rally scene only the waves we got back were from a lone MGB in the group! Sorry no photos I was too busy waving!
Following the Route des Lacs for a while we arrived at the lake in Laouzas with it’s very impressive dam (more impressive than the lake in our opinion as the water levels were rather low). But we did see a Muntjac deer in a golden field of dandelions – I know they are weeds, but they do look lovely and the bees seem to like them!
On our way to view the very impressive Millau Viaduct we stumbled upon cheese heaven at the tiny village of Roquefort. France has many villages named Roquefort so we genuinely had no idea this was THE one where the damp caves produce exactly the right environment for the famous blue mould to grow! I feel a cheese fest coming on for lunch tomorrow! This wasn’t our first visit to Millau, but back in 2002 the motorway viaduct was nothing more than a scale model in the town hall for all to see, and the traffic through town was a nightmare. In 2006, we drove over the Viaduct and stopped in the viewing point at bridge level, but today we stood (and drove) underneath it, and also stopped in the viewing point to take one or two photos – not easy to get the car and the Viaduct in, but we tried. Gizmo also had his photo taken in the petrol station by a Spanish biker who took a shine to him – he has been one photographed car today. From Millau it was a breathtaking drive to Meyrueis in the Cervenne National Park, through the Tarn Gorges where the evening sun was illuminating the rocks and the vultures were circling above us.’
Back to my beer, a demain - tomorrow we are off to the Dordogne.!(upload://xrfokV4Sv7assHuulkhsgNnqD72.jpg)