Saturday, August 13, 2016

From Collioure to the village of Les Mages

Departure from Collioure. A glorious morning, as we trundled our suitcases along the waterfront one last time, and popped romantically to the recycling before sitting on a bench for a while looking at the picturesque little port one last time. We’d had a good time there, but we were both ready to try the next phase of our holiday.  We’d given ourselves plenty of time so there was no frenzy as we rolled ourselves up to the station. There was a train at 9:53 which took us to Nîmes. It was a slow stopping train so the journey took us a couple of hours, but this was pleasant enough.  The train quite busy, but as we’d got on early in the route we had a seat.

At Nîmes we eventually found the Car Hire place in the station that Lorraine had organised for us. We found our car, then bought snacks at the station.

As we were getting ourselves sorted in the underground carpark, Sam called with the excellent news that he had been accepted, vitally with funding, to do his PhD at Stirling University.

Back then to trying to work out how to start the car. Lorraine drove out into the street, muttering ‘right is right’, and some panicky bits involving people beeping us and difficulty with programming the satnav (not having the full address of where we were going for example) meant that we were guided to a small suburban housing estate first, before we managed to get onto our correct route. Lorraine stressed by all this, as the driver. As  passenger/navigator I did not cover myself in glory. However, once we found the right road, we made good speed to the Ales ringroad half an hour or so outside Nîmes, and from there via many roundabouts to a tiny village called Les Mages. Here we sat in the car, semi-miraculously having found the right place.  We walked down the lane, and into a cool stone tunnel. Here we met Lucy who had been right behind us. A very pleasant woman, an ex teacher from California, but long resident in London and France. 

A heavenly place. We have rooms in an old courtyard, and we were shown by Lucy down into the garden, were there is a pool for our use, and below this a sleepy summer river, with fish ghosting about in it. She warned us against sleeping under the walnut tree by the river.  The sounds of cicada and grasshoppers. The banks of the river steep and wooded. Forested hills nearby.

Then we braved the car again, and to a nearby town where we eventually found the local Carrefour, and bought lots of food and drink for the week. The fresh food in the supermarket is so fresh and tasty. We bought beers, wines, a smoked cooked chicken, lots of salad and fruit, sausages and cold meats, read and cheeses including Roquefort, which for me is the king of cheeses.

Back to the pool for a cool swim. Amazing to have your own private pool. A lizard haunted stone wall and trees around, including vines and a big fig tree, where the sun reflects up off the water onto the bottom of its leaves.

Then back up to our rooms. Found an old music centre and some CDs. Played some Latin America music, ate food, drank wine and played scrabble. Much later we turned on the TV, and found ourselves watching a French version of Maigret, which was fun. Including the immortal phrase, 'Non, non, et non!'

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