Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mini Cooper Road Trip, Day Three to Nimes

French Village Diaries Mini Cooper road trip Nimes

After a good nights sleep in Castres we breakfasted on coffee and croissants in a bar while watching the comings and goings of the market, where the strawberries were so fresh we could smell them from quite a distance. We bought some local goats cheese, two heart shaped cabicou, for our picnic lunch before setting off and crossing La Meridienne Verte - the border into eastern France. Our morning coffee stop was in Brassac where it was obvious we were now in holiday country as not only could I detect a real southern twang in the accents, but I spotted Belgium, Italian and Dutch cars while we sat and watched the world go by. The driving this morning was mainly through hills and pine forests with foxgloves, ferns, daisies and butterflies enhancing the views. The yellows of Sunday and reds of Monday have been replaced with vivid greens today. We drove past lakes and EDF dams, then left the Tarn and began climbing into the black mountains where the names of Evans, Voeckler and other Tour De France cyclists were still visible on the roads. With the windows down we could feel the warm breeze as we watched the craggy scenery go by.

French Village Diaries patisserie Mini Cooper road trip
The patisserie of the day
By lunch time we were in the Languedoc Rousillon and the soil and rock were red, which with the cerise pink of the valerian and zingy yellow of the broom looked stunning and smelt fragrant and sweet too. The villages were decorated with little old ladies in flowery housecoats watching the world from their wrought iron balconies. It felt very southern and was hot, hot, hot. After many kilometres of twisting hairpins and narrow bridges we descended into vineyards and olive groves and could see Pic St Loup in the distance. Our afternoon patisserie was a large jam filled biscuit each, heavier to hold than expected and rather sweet, but delicious. 

French Village Diaries Mini cooper road trip Nimes France
Nimes from our balcony
We arrived in Nimes to lots of traffic and one way systems and if it had been me driving I think panic would have taken over and I'd still be looking for the hotel now. Thankfully Adrian has an in built directional device that enabled him to pull up right outside after only a few attempts. We took a restorative beer on our balcony before setting out for an evening walk around some of Nimes, followed by a lovely three course meal of regional delights including brandade of cod and Camargue bull stew served with local rice. The service was relaxed to the point of being inefficient, but thankfully the food was delicious. We returned to our balcony to watch the sun set over the city. Tomorrow we are off to Montbrun-les-Bains via Le Mont Ventoux.

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