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Villages and Vineyards
During the two weeks we stayed in the Languedoc-Rousillon Region, armed with our (indispensable!) 1cm: 2km Michelin Map, we traversed the area on the red roads (2 lane wide highways), the yellow roads (2 lanes and just wide enough for two cars) and the white roads (one lane wide but two way traffic!) shown on the map. Sometimes we had a destination in mind, sometimes we were just exploring. In either case we drove through dozens of villages and past miles and miles of vineyards (it is after all ‘wine country’!).
Driving through villages is, well, a bit nerve wracking sometimes. It isn’t just the narrowness of the streets that twist and turn (the streets through the villages are rarely ‘straight’!) or the pedestrians who step out into the street in front of you, or even the oncoming cars driving down the middle (twice as fast as they should!). It is that it is so very, very easy to get turned around and lose your way….
“D22 disappears in the center of this village and we need to take D16.” I, as navigator would tell Don (who did all the driving, thank goodness!). “But we want to take D16 going north and not D16 going east. Then just right on the other side of the village we want to take the first turn to the left which will take us onto D92 going west.” No Problem! Except that the tiny signs that you can barely read (that is IF you don’t miss them altogether!) have no N-E-S-W directions indicated on them and we would end up on D16 going east…
But despite the “an-adventure-to-drive-through” characteristic that most of the villages had in common, they had something more important in common – there was always something interesting to look at as we passed through, they were quaint and had ‘old world charm’, and often they were just unbelievably pretty!
One village in particular had all of the above in spades, the village of Roquebrun. Built on the steep sides of the mountains above a river valley, it is wondrous to look at from a distance, the river valley is bucolic, and if you walk up the narrow, twisting streets of the village higher and higher, you are rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of the town, the river, the valley and the hills opposite. The village itself seemed to me to be just a bit prettier than most too. Almost every house had a flowerpot or two (or ten!) sitting on the balcony or outside the doors (or in an old tea kettle hung on the side of the house!).
We drove there one morning (on the advice of one of the ladies in our group), parked our car along the main street, walked down to the river and then up and up and up (the streets were too narrow and steep to even think about driving up, although there were a few cars parked along the street…) to the church. There was no traffic however, few people walking about (it was just a bit after noon by then) and it was absolutely quiet and peaceful.
We sat on a bench in front of the church to eat our ‘picnic’ lunch (cheese, fruit and chocolat pain!). Before us was the aforementioned spectacular view, above us the ruins of a medieval tower. A structure, I would guess (I do not know anything of the history of the village) that was for defense or a lookout (or both).
We sat there in the warm sunshine with our picnic spread out between us on the bench, enjoying the view and secretly wondering (at least I was!) what it would be like to live in such a beautiful place. An old man came by walking his dog, tipped his hat, smiled and said “Bon Appetite!” The look in his eyes said that he knew just how pleasurable our “lunch with a view” was and that he wished us well…
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