.............not all those that wander are lost..............

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sight-seeing trip - with Medieval Villages, Roman Remains, a Big Viaduct, and some Cheese...

The onset of Spring with a substantial crop of cyclists in lycra, men in camouflage waistcoats standing in rivers, birds singing outrageously early in the morning and other men setting fire to bushes in the fields, encouraged us to set off for a bit of a sight-seeing tour.

Things were hastily thrown into the van and we headed South hoping to find somewhere to camp on the way to see the Millau viaduct. TomTom told us it would be more than seven hours driving from here so starting late on Monday afternoon meant a stop somewhere overnight.

Amongst all the other stuff I did pack some walking gear; boots, rucksack, and jacket. As it turned out I didn't actually DO any walking but we did stay reasonably active for six days........

The campervan was a joy - as usual - and we found that being out of season that, although the campsites weren't open, there was plenty of room in the 'aires de camping car', which are found fairly easily in most tourist areas in France. In the height of Summer these are usually over-populated by large, expensive (often Italian) motorhomes so it's hard to get parked - but no such problems in mid-March.
{I 'borrowed' this from a Motorhome website. It shows the sign to look for and one of the usual 'big' vans parked up.}

We had a week of glorious sunshine, with a few chilly nights. Each day we moved to a new location, explored the village or castle or cave, then stayed the night in the van.

{A panoramic photo of the Millau Viaduct spanning the valley}

Our first objective was to visit the Millau bridge designed by Norman Foster. It was more imposing (in both senses of the word)  from afar than it was travelling over it. There's a visitor's centre with some good video presentations of the Aveyron area and the story of the building of the bridge.

After staying the night in Millau itself, we headed to Roquefort to visit the caves and see the famous cheese being made. I had hoped to see the sheep too, but they must have still been in their Winter barns so not a single one was spotted in the fields. The visit to the cave was interesting and naturally we were given a taste of the products and presented with the opportunity to buy some!  There were three varieties to choose from and as John and I liked different ones, no cheese was bought, but we will get some in the supermarket next time we are entertaining.

{A photo of the display area at the Roquefort cheese factory - no cameras were allowed in the cheese storage areas}

The Aveyron area of France was also home to the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages so we headed off across the Larzac plateau to have a look around la Couvertoirade, a still complete walled village.  A walk on the ramparts, above the old stone roofs of the houses was a real treat - dodging pigeons and all!

{La Couvertoirade}

Turning for home, we travelled into the wine growing region of Cotes du Rhone and came upon a huge castle built above a village, with a wonderful woodland of green oaks which we could wander around. The Chateau of Suze la Rousse is a University of Wine but wasn't open to the public until the afternoon.

{The view of the town below the massive tower of the Chateau}

{The Evergreen or Holm Oaks with their dark trunks and thick leaves}

We ended our week away by visiting the town of Vaison la Romaine. It was once a bustling Roman town with large villas and farms. There are Roman remains a plenty. After a wander round the museum with an audio guide (the English version left a lot to be desired!) which continued outside to extensive ruins, I own up to failing to see all of them!

{The beautiful old Roman bridge at Vaison}

Luckily for us, now in need of showers and an electrical boost for the van battery, we found the campsite at Vaison had just opened for the season.

All the photos I've posted are from my phone, the ones from my camera need more sorting out and anyway, they take an age to load up.

As we arrived back here the weather changed, and became stormy, wet and very windy, so it was a well timed trip and hopefully The Toe is now on the mend............


Louise said...

Nice cheese Gromit!

Laura said...

But SO smelly......

Alan R said...

Great post that. I love the history of places. I bet that old Roman Bridge could tell some stories.