Monday 15th August. This morning we had no showers to worry about so had
a bit of a lie-in. After breakfast we went to Carrefour for the shopping. Now today in France is a bank holiday for Assension Day and you would have thought, being a religious celebration, that there would be few French around. Wrong! The car park was bursting at the seams and the store ws no better. We eventually finished and had a Coke Lite before heading off to Salses-le-Chateau. We found a quite shady spot here so had our lunch and after lunch went to see the Fortresse de Salse. This is a huge castlr remains, very well preserved and incredibly intact. You can visit but only with a guided tour and as this would be in French, we declined, deciding instead to walk around the outside of this incredible fortress! Then we headed off to La Palme. This is another typically Catalan village with a lot of charm. We stopped for a short walk and then went to a bar (yes! Again!). Here the owner’s wife brough me and Syd, some Peanuts which we both loved; some Staek Hache which neither of us wanted and some chips which we both had. We were totally stuffed when we left this bar J. From here we set off to Port Nouveau. This is just like the title – a new port! The port was obviously a recent addition as was most of the housing. It was pretty characterless but did have a superb beach which allowed about a kilometre for cars to park on the beach! On the way back we saw Port Leucate which looked nice so we are hoping to get back there on Wednesday amidst taking down the awning and packing up.
Tuesday 16th August. Today we got up at a sensible time (well I thought so – Dad, on the other hand, thought it was too early but Mum woke him). We had planned to go to Narbonne today. We didn’t know why or what we would see but we went anyway! As it happened we luckily found a parking space right outside the Office de Tourisme so were able to get a map straight away. Then it was off to a nearby bar to study the map and plan the day. First place to visit was the Market Hall as it closed at 13:00 so we went straight there after a Beer (even Mum had a Beer this time!). The Market hall was impressive but not overly so but the stalls inside were virtually all food which after shopping yesterday, was something we didn’t really need. Next we went to the Church of Notre Damme which has now been turned into a Lapidary museum. After that we made our way to St Paul’s Basilica which was closed for lunch so we went back to the car and took our lunch down by the canal which flows right through Narbonne and had lunch. After lunch we returned to the Basilica and found it quite stark and basic inside which surprised us. We had expected it to be especially nice but I have to say it was a little disappointing. From there we were hot especially me so they found a bar in the shade in the place of 4 fountains, and let me cool off for a bit. I was even offered some of Dad’s Coke but as Sydney declined, I thought I would too! Next we went to the other side of the canal to look at the eastern side of the town. Here we got off to a bad start. We went to the Cathedral and a man came out and said Syd & I couldn’t come in. Dad was fine about this and left us with Mum while he went in but when he came out Mum was nowhere to be seen. It turned out she was not even allowed to wait outside the church door for Dad. These people are very anti-birds! They quite understood us not being allowed in (despite the fact that we have been allowed in most churches in Europe and the UK) but thought not letting Mum wait with us outside the main door for Dad to come back did seem a bit OTT! We are after all, still Animals of God! What happened to Noah? Was he not allowed into church? Still we left the Cathedral and sought the other sites. After a while we found a Turkish Bar/Restaurant in a street and stopped there for what was a very cheap Diet Coke! Then we visited the rest and returned to the car for coffee and biscuits and then headed off for Sigean. Sigean was somewhat disappointing. It had all you would want a small town to have but just lacked the character we have found in so many small French towns so we didn’t stay long. On the way back we found a couple of Brocantes where we got a Clock for Tony for €47. Dad said he would have paid the asking price of €60 and would have fully restored it and sold it for £175. We also bought some Microwave steamer dishes (brand new) and an enamel dish for Stacey’s Kakarikis to bathe in. Being enamel on metal, it wont rust or break in the winter. Then we came on home at the end of a tiring but very pleasant day. Narbonne is definitely worth a visit – especially if you are a human!!!
Wednesday 17th August. Well this was packing up day. We had a lie-in and Mum & Dad even left me & Syd sleeping while they went off for a shower. After breakfast they decided to take the awning down while it wasn’t too hot. This went without a hitch unlike when they had to put it up in a strong wind. Still it all came down and got stowed in the car and then we had lunch before heading out to Port Leucate. Port Leucate is another new resort but did seem to have a bit more to offer than Le Bacarès. It had a bigger harbour with loads of very expensive boats; more shops and more bars and hotels. We all quite liked the lazy afternoon we spent at Port Leucate. Later, Dad skyped Stacey early so we all could have an early night!
Thursday 18th August. Well this was moving day. We left at 7:30 for our 500km journey to Camping Goyetchea in the Pays Basque area of SW France. We had a good, but expensive trip, paying over €55 in Motorway tolls! Still it was less than half the time of paying no tolls so they considered it worth it. When we arrived Dad knew at once that this site and area was much more his “cup of tea”! The site was really nice – smaller than before which is better. They left us covered in the caravan while they put the awning up and then they took us out into the awning and, Wow! What a view over the Pyrenees and the cloud had lifted to reveal the tops of the mountains as if to welcome us! I have to say that later the cloud thickened and we could no longer see the tops of the mountains but the forecast is for the weather to improve. On Sunday they forecast sunshine and 34 degrees – I hope they go somewhere shady! Well it’s nearly dinner time – I can smell it cooking so I am going to sign off for today.
Friday 19th August. Well today dawned cloudy so we couldn’t see the tops of the mountains but the forecast was for sun in the afternoon and they were right! This was our first whole day in the SW of France so what did Dad decide to do? Go to Spain! He decided to go to San Sebastian which is a town or small city in NE Spain. It was a lovely place to visit. Car parking was a bit challenging but then we found a disabled spot which let us park all day for free so Dad was pleased! We started off with a coffee followed by a Beer and then made our way around a small craft market before heading off to the small park/gardens adjacent to the car for our pic-nic lunch. Interestingly, Dad sat just in front of a large and impressive fountain but at 13:30 all the fountains were shut off until 16:30. Dad reckons it’s because that’s the hottest part of the day and when they get most evaporation. San Sebastian has 3 good sandy beaches, a very nice small harbour, a castle with a statue looking down over the whole town, an old town and some wonderful architecture. We all loved San Sebastian and are looking forward to going back. There is only one problem according to Dad – they don’t speak French!!!
Saturday 20th August. Today we had a big lie-in (so big that Sydney didn’t try to go to sleep in the afternoon whenever we stopped at a bar, like she usually does!). Yep, Dad didn’t wake up til 10:30 and didn’t wake us fids until 11:00. We still did well and got out before 12:00 but we had to go shopping which means me & Sydney needed to stay in our travel cage in the back of the car. After Mum & Dad came back they took us out and Dad took control of us as Mum drove to Biarritz. Now Biarritz was a bit of a shock! Both me and Dad imagined Biarritz to be one long beach with a promenade full of expensive bars and restaurants but it was not so! OK, the bars were expensive but Biarritz is a bit like the Newquay area of Cornwall. It has sandy beaches (we saw 4 out of possibly 5) but there are rocky outcrops and headlands which split the beaches up into separate ones. We started in the south and worked our way north. The first couple of beaches were at the bottom of steep paths from the road above. They were quite busy but it was Saturday and there was plenty of room on them to set out your towels! Mum said she felt very “over-dressed” on the beach (if you get her meaning) but Dad just said he wasn’t looking at her (lol)!!! There were a lot of serious sunbathers around with very dark tans! After we came up from the beach we found a bar in the shade which was great for me (because unlike Syd, I don’t like too much sun!). Dad was pleased as he actually managed to get a large beer here (well 50 cl)!
Then we went back to the car and drove further north to the old port which was actually a small harbour completely lacking the boats of the rich and famous. Sat at the bar it was just like a little Cornish harbour and even had a row of terraced cottages just like you would find in Cornwall. It is true we didn’t explore all of Biarritz and a return trip is planned but if any of you are really keen to go to Biarritz then save yourself a fortune and go to Cornwall instead! Well tomorrow is Vide Grenier Day and after that, Dad says we’ll probably go up in the mountains as it’s forecast to be 34 degrees tomorrow and it should be cooler in the mountains!