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.
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.
|Nimes from our balcony|