Week 9 started a bit misty but we went on a long walk into the Gorges past some waterfalls and up the ravine. The walk was probably endless but our snowboarding aches prevented us going too far. After, we headed slowly to Pont-en-Royans where we anticipated staying the night, but we just had lunch and left due to the area having far too much evidence of cars being broken in to. Instead we headed to an aire in Saint-Jean-en-Royans which was okay for the night. The countryside and horizon in this part of France is quite spectacular – flat plains with huge canyons and rocks – loads of walking and cycling routes which all seem well sign posted. Next time we’re here….
The following day took us to Romans-sur-Isère (bit of a nothing place) then down to Montélimar famous for its nougat which, obviously, we had to buy a load. Montélimar seems to be undergoing a revamp and the centre was very smart and had a busy all-sorts market. There is a Palace des bonbons et du Nougat which has a big shop, but also loads of play for the kids. Not much for adults bar sweets. After a big shop we ended up in a small medieval town called Viviers on the banks of the river for the night – very old-world and very pretty.
Our great view of the river and the surrounding town on the hill was obscured by dense fog that sadly lingered all day making it flippin’ cold. We left Viviers and headed to Alès which had a decent free aire which we made use of by having a hair-cut and good shower! The place itself was another “okay but not worth a detour” type place. For the night we headed just down the road to Anduze which is a very old small town with tight and interesting streets.
From Anduze we visited Sauve and then down to the old walled city of Aigues-Mortes. Both were fairly impressive but again lacking in atmosphere due to the time of year. Aigues-Mortes must be very popular in season as there were “no campervan” signs in most places, and where they allowed you to park it was around €10 just for parking. We parked about 1km outside in Hyper-U and walked in along the river (back exit from Hyper-U). We then headed to the Med to see if the sun was out, but sadly it remained hidden and the air remained cold. So hot tip: Don’t expect good sun in Feb in the south of France!
We overnighted at Sete quay which is a permitted motorhome area, but in truth it was a cross between a lorry park and a pikey site – thus we selected our corner carefully! Last time in the area we missed Sete, but this time explored the old town and the canals, and it was a pretty place worth visiting. Sadly though, the Sete to Adge road (N112) has been rebuilt and there is nowhere to wildcamp – whereas previously there were 100’s of spaces for vans right on the med. We eventually tucked in Le Grau-d’Agde but I’d say especially in season the area is no longer motorhome friendly (too much previous abuse no doubt). It was nice to see the sun again with waves gently lapping the beach, but still isn’t swimming weather here.
With the morning set in mist, we headed to Béziers which looked okay from an outside photo, but was fairly tatty inside. There was a “yellow footprint walk” which shows the most interesting parts, including a superb “mirror” shop. You’ll know what I mean if you see it! We then headed on slow roads via Sauvian and Sérignan that looked okay, down to the beach Valras-Plage which wasn’t really that special. We continued on really rough (un-named!) roads to Narbonne-Plage which could’ve been anywhere really, then through to Gruissan which we liked – a large modern harbour, some modern tourist bits, and an interesting and small old-town with small (very) castle. A peaceful place for the evening.
The night was very calm, but in the morning the area lived up to its name “Aire des 4 vents” – so we left to Narbonne which itself was okay with a couple of good views and shopping streets, but nothing excited. For the night we ventured to Port-la-Nouvelle which again didn’t excite but sorted us for the night.
As usual it appears we are visiting places at the wrong time! There is quite clearly a middle ground between peak season and mid winter when places can get an atmosphere and liven up without being over full. February in the south of France probably doesn’t do a lot of places justice. So we end week 9 with a mixed view of the last week.
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