Loitering in France 

17- 22 November 2017

The Camargue. Another day of beautiful sunshine although the wind was chilly.  We visited the Friday market, bought some tasty Grand-mere’s pate, got our flu jabs at the local clinic and explored the village a bit more.

We took the bus out to the bird-reserve which was really lovely. We saw our first Slavonian Grebe, enjoyed the large flock of flamingoes, and watched the wild Camargue horses – hooves specially adapted to the water – grazing in the distance. Stork, egrets and ibis squabbled with each other on a crowded island and grey heron lined up like fishermen eyeing the water for prey. A couple of snipe came into the open giving us our best view yet of these lovely birds. And to cap it all we saw a beaver in one of the ponds.

That night the satellite dish started whirring around in circles and refused to settle, leading to us miss one of our favourites, Gogglebox, which we had really looked forward to. Danny finally found out on the internet that there had been a satellite update and he located the instructions to fix it. It would be really nice to go more than a week without the van throwing an issue at us!

Before moving on we managed to fit in a long walk along the shoreline and coffee at the harbour then drove south with nowhere on particular in mind. Around Beziers we decided it would be nice to sit still for a couple of days and located a campsite at the small village of Colombiers. We paid for a couple of nights and ended up staying 5.

Colombier is set on a bend in the Canal du Midi which runs from Toulouse into the Mediterranean. The village has a relatively new marina and a charming old part with chateau and church. We spent our time catching up with stuff, enjoying the sun and the autumn colours, walking along the canal to explore the countryside and the small marina, and admiring the boats of those who have chosen the waterways rather than the roads for their wanderings.

Although the village must be busy in the summer, it was beautifully tranquil the few days we were there, the only excitement being a football match at the weekend. We really liked the canal-side particularly the huge old plane trees lining the banks. At one point a number had been felled – wilt is affecting these trees throughout France. We do hope it can be checked as they are so beautiful and add so much character to the roads and waterways, as well as providing much needed shade in the heat of summer.

We had noticed on campsites throughout our travels that there are people who live full-time on them, many with conventional jobs and some with young families. This was really brought home on the site at Colombiers where a young family lived in a small static home opposite that overflowed into a permanently parked van – he went to work as a jobbing gardener every day. Next to us was a construction involving a tiny caravan with an awning on one side and a tent rigged from a tarpaulin on the other which housed a very happy couple around our age. A world we were previously unaware of.

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Our last day was grey and cool, a real contrast to the 22-24C we had been getting in the afternoons in the sunshine and no help at all in drying the wash! We took it as a sign and prepared to move off for Spain the next day.

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