Sunday, May 20, 2012

Narbonne, Beziers and last night in Saint Remy.

We travelled from Carcassonne to Narbonne for our overnight stay before driving back to Saint Remy. Sue wanted to see the Carmargue on the way home and I wanted to show the girls the ancient Roman Road found under the streets of Narbonne near the Archbishops Palace and the Cathedral.

The Via Dometia runs from Spain, across what was then Roman occupied Gaul to Italy built 118 BC. It was at Narbonne that it linked with the Via Aquitania and then ran through to Bezier and unknown to me at the time linked with Saint Remy at the old town of Glanum.

Fortunately for us our visit was early in the morning as deliveries were coming in for the surrounding shops, we parked in the square only 10 metres away. To think you can actually walk on the same stones where Rome's great armies marched across this land in their conquests to build their empire.

Via Domitia from Spain to Italy
We actually parked the car no more than 10 to 20 steps away and walked down on to Via Domitia.
The Narbonne Cathedral
The Cloister within.
Gargoyles overlooking the Cloister.
From Narbonne, we headed to Beziers for a mid-morning stop. We'd been by Beziers several times and never ventured into the old town at the top of the hill. I had always been a hesitant of driving in the narrow streets but having now driven in many areas of France, I feel a little more confident but still a little aprehensive. This time we did venture into central Beziers and to our surprise and delight, we stumbled upon a medieval festival was happening. People were dressed in costume, jousting matches were in action and the street was setup in market mode. I must admit though it did seem a little strange to see one lady dressed a in middle ages costume wearing fashion sunglasses and talking on her mobile phone.
Some of the acts were excellent such as the musicians and these very tall people on the springing stilts.

The festival was to be run over the weekend with the Friday being the introduction. The various groups of people in costume were introduced along with Minstrels, troubadours and jesters. The medieval music played loudly giving the festival a real vibrancy. You just don't know what you'll find around the corner sometimes - do you?

We did drive throughout the Camargue on the way back and Sue did catch glimpse of Flamingoes, the big black bulls and the white wild horses. We did drive into the tourist part of the Camargue but unfortunately with limited time we didn't get to the more wild area directly below Arles.
It was time to head back to Saint Remy to catch up with friends from Australia for dinner on our last night in this great town.
Dinner was at L'Olivarde again as it was so enjoyable earlier in the week and the owners were so welcoming as they were again. The duck was chosen by most of us with choices of various sauces available. My favourite was the gorgonzola.

The night finished with coffee and a digestive in the town square to say goodbye to our friendly barman Lourin whom we called Larry. Even taught him to say "G'Day Mate" to any Aussies that might pass his way.

Comedy of Errors:

Words and humour by Sue. 
In St Etienne after a somewhat stressful day.
Prepared to drive the girls to Orange (50km) to pick up their car rental. But....they haven't travelled much and they have BIG suitcases. We have little car. Friends from Melbourne, Bob and Jenny arrived in St Remy last night. We went out for dinner and they offered to come with us and do the suitcases. Noice!
Off we popped. Got to far north Orange only to have the guy (non English speaker) say no reservation and def no car to Paris! Noice!
Discussion! Me. Franglais. Noice!
Found a car.
New contract, car at other place, not far!! Noice? Non.
52km away they close at 12 for lunch. Off we popped! Bob and Jenny in pursuit with bags. Boy, do I owe them a meal!
5 minutes late, but they had the car ready for 2 when they re opened.
We all went and had lunch. Then saw the girls to the open office and off we popped, from wherever we were, to look for where we had to go, about 200km away. Never mind, we had the Tom Tom. Tom? Tom? Tommy, speak to me! Nope! Dead!
Back to Hertz office with girls. Rent GPS? Certainly! Phew! 50€ per day!! I don't think so.
Found a Le Clerc and bought new cordy replacement thingy. All good. He worked again. We knew the cord was getting dodgy!

Made good time on auto route at very quick time. Found St Etienne, but Tommy was holding all the resentment of the day in reserve for just this moment. Had repeated breakdowns.....turn left at the next street on the turn right at go straight ahead on the left.....OMG....why did you abandon me......and all that kind of stuff. Turned him off and spent a happy half hour going the wrong way on one way streets finding the tourist office. Oh joy!
Got good advice and found the hotel. A large number of unhappy looking, sounding adolescent and older black males hanging out around the vicinity which fortunately seemed to be heavily fortified with bars, intercoms etc to get into hotel and oh joy we finally made it to our floor. Which had the very loud sound effects of a lady who seemed to be very happy as we walked to our room. We thought maybe we could rent the room by the hour. Helpful and Noice.
Leon was more enthusiastic about starvation than about braving the streets for dinner. Did I mention the thunder storm? No? Oh there was thunder, lightening, rain. It stopped. Just puddles by the time we went out. But still atmospheric, if you know what i mean!
Wandered around and found a place which was wide and leafy and rhododendron planted and had fountains and....quite lovely. In direct contrast to its mean surrounding streets.
Picked a restaurant, pretty much at random and ended up having a great night.
We both had a lovely meal. No one spoke more English than I spoke French, but as they obviously were not used to tourists wanted to chat which was very funny! They ended up  comping us a Grand Marnier each, about the size of a decent water glass, I reckon!
So, back at the hotel now, listening for our friend through the wall and looking forward to leaving in the morning!
Girls arrived at their destination safely.
All is well.....but we are stuffed!
Will sleep well tonight!
Tomorrow Moulins.

The friendly and smiling staff
And the restaurant in Saint Etienne.


  1. What fun finding the medieval festival in Beziers, you were so lucky. I love the falconer with his eagle. So pleased all going well. See you very soon. The weather does not sound too fantastic for the next three days :-( Diane

  2. We found some more (to us) undiscovered delights today.

  3. Super commentary. Kind of makes me wish I was there, kind of...

    1. Great to have you travelling with us elvis - now halfway thru the trip and missing the bike when I see all these French country roads.

  4. Oh dear what a comedy of errors it was, sorry to laugh at your expense but I did.

  5. Looks like a great medieval fair.

    St Etienne sounds stressful and fraught -- at the time. Hopefully it will morph into a good if slightly manic episode in your memories of this trip.


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