9 Oct 2011

An ASHS reunion - à la française


There was an Albany Senior High School reunion last year held in Albany, Western Australia that I wasn’t able to attend. The next best thing was to have two old school friends come and stay – my old friend Susie (the Bulgarian Connection) who was here visiting this time last year – and Di, who I haven’t seen for probably 20 or more years! 



Colour co-ordinated clothes and drinks. But only one of us is grey!

Susie had gone down to meet Di in Istanbul, then spent a few days back in Bulgaria, then onto Barcelona, and then up to me for a week. I was exhausted just hearing about it!

But still enough energy left when they got here for us to have a fabulous time and catch up.

Some of the places we visited, Susie had seen before – but not all of them. So between lots of eating and drinking (no surprises there), reminiscing and many laughs – here’s some of what we got up to.

A good way of seeing a bit of the countryside and the coast around the Etang de Thau (oysters, oysters, and more oysters – and then there’s the mussels….) and the Mediterranean beaches, is to do a loop. Heading east to Pezenas (preferably on a Saturday when there is a great market), Mèze, Bouzigues, Sète and back along the coast via Agde.

That’s a very rough itinerary; it would take days to call into all the places worthy of a visit.

While we were wandering along the waterfront of Sète – France’s biggest fishing port on the Mediterranean
we noticed a tourist boat tied up, and about to leave on a one hour cruise of the coast. We got on at the last minute and went out of the harbour and along the coast a way.

Given that the whole week has had fabulous weather (low 30s - hottest for this time of year since 1985) – it was a great day to get out on the water.

Sète is a lovely town – the huge fishing boats tie up alongside the man-made canals (quays?) that go right into the centre of town – and restaurants and commerce is all around. You can be sitting at a café or restaurant and be metres from giant trawlers, laden with nets – the smell of the sea and fishing boats. 








Another day we took in Narbonne, Gruissan and Gruissan Plage, where all the chalet houses on stilts are to be found. This was the setting for the 80s cult movie Betty Blue. In fact, in the movie she was shown working at the very restaurant we had lunch at – now called Le Grande Soleil


Sitting on the verandah, looking out over Gruissan Plage


What a setting and what a STEAK!  




We were hungry, but not that hungry. Di made a wise choice of seafood. Susie and I decided on meat. It looks big on the plate. It was HUGE. We took rather a lot of it with us when we left - there was enough for rare beef to be used in another meal at home, and then still some left for Nic’s dog!

We called into the old town of Gruissan and climbed the tower in the centre. A fairly windy day, but the climb was certainly worth it - amazing views out over the rooftops and far beyond. 







And on the outskirts of Gruissan are the salt pans and the Gruissan Salt Museum – well worth a visit. 




 




I hadn't known that there was a little restaurant next to the museum, overlooking the drying salt beds – selling fresh oysters but also with an interesting looking simple menu of the day. Good to keep in mind for another visit another day.

Casual dining at the edge of the salt pans - table tops supported by piles of roof tiles.

We also had a day in Carcassonne and La Cite:


Le Chateau Comptal within the walls of La Cite
Looking over the ramparts, towards 'new' Carcassonne
Close-up of some of the gargoyles on the Basilica of St-Nazaire
Susie and Di - dwarfed by the outer walls of la Cite

And on the last day a trip up into the hills to Minerve. Susie stayed back for a much-needed rest (having visited last year) and Di and I did the walk around the gorges, and through the cave. 


When you emerge from the other end of the cave, you find hundreds of cairns that people have constructed - it's obviously the thing to do, and they make quite a sight. 




Ours was a rather insignificant offering, but hey, we've left our mark!


errr .... that's ours in the foreground .....
'C' for effort
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