Monday, September 1, 2008

Maurice's Aveyron Road Trip

It's Vacation Time again. This year: the South of France!

We have tunes, towels, a map, and a sackful of apples from the garden. Our car is a black Opel Corsa, with a full tank of diesel and plenty of power for the hills. I'm ready - now will you girls get it in gear?
First thing: get off the freeway. So we're off the freeway and what do you know, but there's a neat medieval village nestled in the hills. And another one. And another. In this particular one they're having Make A LOT of Noise Day. Dirtbike races, the kind where you get extra points for making the most racket and for chewing up more of the pasture than anyone else.
Happily, soon after that we're out of the town and around the bend and into quieter territory. On our way toward Aurillac there's this castle I've always wanted to stop at, so we do.

Castle hopping on the squiggly small roads is a lot of work, so every morning we stock up on carbs and coffee. None of that no-carb diet nonsense for us! I need something to put my jam on! it wouldn't be nice to just eat it out of the jar. Then there are plenty of apples from home in a sack in the back, though the supply diminishes quickly because some of them are inhabited.

Then it's the road, the beautiful roads of France, through villages and valleys and pastures. The cows are all golden in the morning sun.

Winding around on the small roads it takes us three days to get to Carcassonne, which you could do in half a day if you just wanted to get there. I like Carcassonne. If you time the breaks in the waves of tourists just right, you can pretend to have it all to yourself, though otherwise it can be a little too Disneylandish. I especially like eating the cassoulet and drinking mead. Iris and Nancy like mead so much that the back of the car sometimes makes a nice tinkling sound from the cases of bottles rattling around.

In Tuchan I test out all the benches. I bet there are enough benches along the streets here to seat the entire population of the town, as long as you make the cats and dogs sit on the ground. There are plenty of languid dogs out in the evening, saying 'hello how are you, roll in any good offal today?' and getting their daily exercise each time they have to move out of the road for a passing car or hay truck. Good thing there are a lot of hay trucks or these would be really fat dogs.

The most ruined ruin we visit is Peyrepertuse, an old Cathar stronghold built on a long high ridge in the northern foothills of the Pyrenees. There are plenty of signs saying Keep Out, but I'm too quick for them.

They also have a raptor show, and they let you say hi to the eagles afterward. I just hope this one has had his lunch already!
At a roadside picnic stop in the Middle of Nowhere Auvergne, somebody left their keys behind, but not their car. Curious.

After just a few days it's time to say goodbye to all my new friends and head for home where Natalie and Sienne and The Frumious Bandersnatch are really really eager to go out in the garden. I've got a few more pictures in the camera, so as soon as I finish the roll (yes: film!) I'll post a couple more. I'll also check out making an online album with more classic scenery pictures.

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