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Vauvert Thursday, 1 October 3:40pm
Hotel du Louvre 150FF
2 beds, wc, shower
We knocked off early today, feeling rather tired as we climbed into this lovely little town at 2:25. My guts are a little iffy today (bad seafood in pizza yesterday?) and we both needed to do large item laundry. By 11:25 we were heading northish towards Vauvert on a very small road that followed a flat river that was lined with tall grasses and willows. We could see the gentle rain in the river more than feel it and the patches of blue in the sky got larger and larger. We heard splashes from the river (fish? muskrat?) and lovely bird song.
We crossed the canal du Rhone in the now completely sunny day (but still oddly raining) and admired the boats going down the canal or moored by the side. We ate lunch in Gallician sitting in the stands of a small arena obviously used for the Camargaises (non lethal bullfights). Our section was shaded by trees. It was a lovely spot. The sky was blue with big fluffy clouds all around on the horizon and the rain had definitely stopped. It was 23C. We saw a little lizard race across the deserted grounds.
We got back on our bikes and began the gentle climb to Vauvert passing vineyards for as far as we could see. We stopped a car and asked a lady to make sure we were on the right track. She smilingly said "tout droit" as another woman also pulled up and rolled down her window to call out "tout droit!" as they both pointed in the same direction. We arrived here with no difficulty and now at 4:40, T has returned from the bike store and has a new mileometre attached.
T has disappeared again and I am listening to the sounds of people chatting in the bar below. I can hear the fountain in the square and the sounds of billiard balls (or is it petanque?) clicking. It's time to investigate.
6:57 pm in the square having had a drink
This square is very active. Lots of people are driving through or stopping at the two locla bars for drinks. There is a lovely fountain and a simple church with two large trees outside in its yard. Two small boys are playing with their toy cars racing them along the walls of the church yard. T is playing with his new mileometre and his bike is sitting here as I write and he disappears and reappears yet again into the bar to ask for a screwdriver or something. Two boys of about 10 came up and honked his bike horn as he came up. All of us laughed and T said dryly, "Merci." One of the boys replied, "...de rien" as they strolled off.
I went into the church to take a look and a service is just going on. The two priests were at the front leading the singing and waving their arms in time to the music, after calling out "toutes ensembles!"
8:10pm in the restaurant - La Broussaillande (Total 235 FF)
Before arriving here, we walked around this lovely simple town seeing how regular French folk live. A lady is walking her dog. Boys are playing. People are stopping to chat or have a drink. Very happy.
The proprieter was just opening up when we arrived. He is very nice and has agreed to make a special dinner for me - fish and rice and vegetables. I'm horribly jealous of T who is having the menu 85FF
A small dish of herbed oiled mushroom arrived - delicious. The man says they are "lactères". Then T started with an amazing warm cheese, Trident tiede, on a bed of beets and pinenuts, followed by Onglet with jus and a lovely vegetable mousse and finished with some sort of chocolate glace. The wine was excellent: bottle of Castières de Nimes DOC, Cuvee Camargaise, La Cave de Vignerons, Vauvert (80FF). I had a wonderful dish of plain fish (rascasse) and ratatouille, rice that had two olive pieces on it and two half moon crescent croissant to make it look like a bull. It was very very good but I began to feel worse and worse. (how I loathe being sick!) As we said goodnight to the proprieter, there was a chorus of goodnights from the other guests.
Friday 2 October 9:30 am sunny
I'm languishing in bed feeling not quite as crummy as I did at 7:00 this morning. T has gone out to explore. I think I might be running a fever but cant really tell. Last night there were a couple of guys who stayed down here in the square partying for a very long time. T just got back and is happy as anything because his new cycle computer has his old mileage on it.
Marsillargue 2:35 pm
We're sitting outside a bar by the camargaise grounds listening to the rain that just began to fall. It's absolutely pouring. A nice wise looking yellow hound stood quietly while we ate lunch but when we had packed up, he pushed the bar door open and went back inside. It seems that the rain has just about stopped for now. What a piece of luck to find such a good lunch spot. A tractor just came into the camargaise grounds to rake. I wonder if there is some big thing this weekend. And it's pouring again causing the driver to stop and go into the bar for shelter.
Before we left this morning, we walked around Vauvert looking at a beautiful fish market that smelled so fresh and was full of wonderful and plentiful things. The natives are very friendly in Vauvert. We got some yoghurt for me and the lady of the store very kindly sold us 2 out of a 4 pack. We went to a salon de the for breakfast. We had 2 small pots of tea and a small quiche for 20 FF total. We left Vauvert at 11:50 just as the bar next to our hotel was cranking up the ugliest rock music.
Our ride was quite good in spite of taking a wrong turn in La Cailar causing us to go a little too far north so we had to ride south into the stiff south wind. (!!?!) We rode through overgrown vineyards that had big fennel bushes growing amongst the rows. By the side of the road was a hedge of rosemary in full bloom.
2:45 pm Blue sky. The tractor man has returned to his ground grooming; it's time to move on.
St.Brès Some Hellhole of a hotel 6:25pm
What a nightmare! We rode through lovely town after lovely town along plane tree lined streets that had NO hotels. We rejected Lunel that did have hotels because it was ugly and loud. We spoke with friendly and helpful natives, who shook their heads with regret that there was "no hotel in this town but just up the road is a good hotel...." We then started the real nightmare. All the roads we took were busy and we finally had to resort to the National Highway to get to a hotel (that was closed....) We went as far as Baillargue and rejected one that was 170 for the night because T thought this one was in a better location. I agreed and back we came to be shown this horror of a room that doesn't have any windows and is costing us 220FF!!! The garden outside reeks of cat piss. What a dump.
This was supposed to be a light day for me. I must admit that I feel better than I did this morning though. Maybe riding into headwinds is a good thing for mal au ventre.
9:30 Dinner was cheap and friendly at a local pizzeria. The woman who ran the place had her daughters there helping her and a friendly man came in to dine. They were all quite animated and happy. We had lentils and pork and a pitcher of wine for 155 FF. Across the street from the pizza joint is a petanque grounds and another bar. The petanque ground aren't lit so some men had set up a makeshift petanque grounds in the gravel by light from the front of the bar. They were playing in big puddles from today's rain but they didn't seem to care.
Saturday 3 October 8:45 am Sunny cool
We slept okay in this little hole of a room except that I woke up at 3:00 with a crashing headache because of the stupid hard pillows pervasive in most hotel rooms. When we got up this morning, I opened the shutters to our room and killed a snail that was on the shutter. We saw a huge snail on the walkway. I'm having tea this morning because my stomach is still wrecked. T is miserable because it means he doesn't get extra coffee. We've left the Camargue and notice that the butter is a different brand.
I felt badly for the lady who runs this hideous place. She had big bandages on one eye and was obviously in pain from recent surgery. We paid the bill, said goodbye, and with a great deal of relief to get away, left to go the short distance to Montpellier.
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