Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Relaxing in Saint Chinian

Where is Saint Chinian?
Saint Chinian is between Beziers and St Pons, on the way to Castres and Albi. We've travelled the surrounding roads on two trips to Saint Chinian and realise there's much more to see.

We took this photo from our Juliet balcony - looking down towards the market square.

We had a leisurely get-up morning before breakfast and then walked to the local market. We could hear the church bell ringing as it most probably has for several centuries on a Sunday morning. Sue was excited about actually shopping for the first time at a French village market and a little daunted by the fact that she may have difficulty with the language but also in knowing what some of the produce actually was. Something she would become much more used to in our future trips to France.

The market stall holders were friendly, happy and talkative. They made an effort to help us and even offered samples of their produce to try. I don’t imagine that Saint Chinian has a lot of tourists and that was kind of the attraction. We were mixing with the real French in our minds. It made us feel part of the village rather than strangers.

One stall holder whom had a good grasp of Franglais was enjoying a bottle of wine with his mates and offering kisses to the passing women. We chatted with for awhile before moving on to our next experience.
I was keen to get back in the car for some further experience and get over my previous disasters. We decided to drive back into Beziers to look for an internet café and send some news back home. The only internet access in Saint Chinian was the local library which was not open, being Sunday.

Beziers old pont spanning the Orb River

As we drove through Beziers we spied an internet café on the other side of the road but my instincts told me that a U-turn was not advisable, or in fact possible. So we drove on for a kilometre or two before reaching a roundabout and returning. This is a procedure that I’ve employed many times now. If you miss a turn or a parking spot, whatever, just wait for the next roundabout and return - no panic, no drama, no stress.
The medieval 14th century Cathedrale St Nazaire of Beziers sits on the highest point of the city and from below there is a wonderful scene of the old bridge (pont vieux) with the banks of the river rising with the cathedral perched at the top of the rocky outcrop.

On returning to Saint Chinian I was feeling more at ease with my driving and enjoying the Citroen C3. It seemed to be the perfect car for the small villages and it performed quite well on the open roads as well. The lease plan offered by Citroen Australia called “Drive Europe” works well and is competitive with hire car fees if you decide on a car for more than 17 days. The Citroen comes straight from the showroom, brand new and in your name with full comprehensive insurance and no extras to pay. Being Citroen owners we also received a 10% discount and on our future trips, we were given an additional 3 days as a loyalty bonus.

My very first lease car (not my last) was fantastic, once I became used to all the controls being on the opposite side - After 4000 kms and 5 weeks of driving, I fell in love with the C3.
Cloister at the Saint Chinian Church
Back on the balcony I enjoyed my favourite French beer, a Pelforth Brune. Sue on the other hand took a liking for Pelforth Blonde, although back home she hardly ever drinks beer.

Sitting on the balcony of the villa in the late afternoon sun became a pleasant ritual at the end of each day.

The weather however does changes during the days with some mornings starting with an overcast sky, but by noon the sun shines down into the valley, changing the colours of the terrain. Sometimes after a humid afternoon the grey skies return bringing on further colour changes. Our villa also changes colour with the various rushes of light.

Pastel colours of orange, purple and greens blend with the natural elements of stone, wood and rendering of the walls. Each hour of the day brings new experiences of our time in Saint Chinian.

Sue decides its time to relax and enjoy the ambience of our villa. Can't say I blame her.

A couple of Arty Farty fotos from the inside of the villa Tourism website on the area Our Villa website Anthony and Andreas email


  1. 2 more days before the TDF starts. I found out more about the TDF from a lovely blogs

    The word verification is "esses", very a propos regarding the small roads in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

  2. Yes, only 3 days here and then many tired days after watching each stage direct telecast from 10.30 pm to 2.00 am here in Australia.
    Thanks for the link which I have logged on to.

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