08 November 2014

2014 EUROPE by Rail 9 - More Thrills

Thrill two was the quaint walled village of La Couvertoirade, where we had lunch. In the twelfth century, it was founded by the Knights Templar (one of the most wealthy and powerful of the Catholic military orders). 

There is much history behind these protective walls, but the village currently is inhabited mostly by craftsmen working with enamel, pottery, weaving, etc. There are a number of shops to show off their wares.

It was fun to explore the many nooks and crannies and winding streets. The stone architecture was spectacular, especially the interior of the Catholic church (or eglise). I would love to hear a choir sing hymns there with its excellent acoustics. For more info on this ancient and interesting little village, see: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Couvertoirade  and www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar
As we meandered toward the car park just outside the walled village (no cars allowed inside), we came across another sweet kitty, napping in the warm sun. We were missing our Bella cat back home. It was hard not to scoop this one up for a quick cat cuddle, but we restrained ourselves. We also saw a honey stand and could hear the buzzing of the busy bees in the orchards behind it.
Time was getting short on this excursion due to our leisurely lunch, so we would bypass our third "planned" thrill at Cirque de Navacelles. To see what we missed, go to: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirque_de_Navacelles

Instead we cruised past the Moulin Le Caylar. This is an old, but nicely restored traditional windmill.
Next was the French version of a grand canyon at Gorges de la Vis (Vis river). No match with our Grand Canyon (capital G, capital C) in the state of Arizona USA, with its multicolored gold and red rock layered walls. Instead this one had rocky white boulders with lots of green scrub decorating its deep cuts into the earth. It was not as wide or deep as the C.G., but still impressive.

Last stop of the day was in Saint-Laurent-le-Minier. Here was a palace-like structure that was divided into a four-plex. B&T had considered buying one of the four plus the tower before seeing Mas Baumel. This was the site of an old mine (hence town name of Minier) and the chateau was the home of its chief engineer.  It was splendid I must say, but not as much so as the one-family, 50 acre home they ultimately chose.
A surging river could be seen from their would-be windows as well as our current vantage point. It was quite imposing due to the torrential rains experienced here lately. There was also a mighty gushing waterfall. B&T said they had never seen it this huge before. Quite impressive!
Alas, we had to head home. On the way, casual conversation lead to Robert Crumb, known for his creation of "Mr. Natural" and the phrase "keep on truckin'." Mike has been a faithful fan for years of this American cartoonist of the "underground" comics era. It turns out he lives part-time in this area of France and is friends with B&T. Even though we did not get to meet Robert in person (that would have been an ultimate thrill), we got to know him a little through the fun Crumb tales told today. (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Crumb)
We stopped for gas in Ganges on the way home. It was 65 Euros to fill their tank with diesel. A cheap price for a "personally guided tour for two."

That evening B&T were off to the opera (movie version) of Macbeth staged by the NYC Met. It was showing in NĂ®mes. Mike and I had been invited to join them, but we opted to stay home an enjoy a quiet evening.

It had been a lovely day. Sun shining with temps ranging from 14C to 23C (16c is about 61F). And it was a lovely evening, sitting on the open veranda enjoying the sun and the sounds of nature.

We were still stuffed from lunch, so dinner was grapes for Mike. I had the ripe red tomato I had been eyeing since we had arrived. It did not disappoint. Both good and healthy.

Uncle Bob had left out some albums of his art work of the mountain La Fage and some other books which we perused. It was so cool to have see the mountain in person along with Uncle's interpretations.

We had an early to bed hopefully to fully get us into time zone / body zone synch. I worried about B&T coming home in the rain which had started again. It was so dark and so late. No city lights or even stars to brighten their way home. When the car pulled into the drive I was relieved and could finally fully close my eyes to sleep.

Approximate southwest France driving route:

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.