Travel in the French Pyrenees #1
By glazou on Monday 19 July 2004, 16:54 - Franchouillardises
- The car is ready, the children in their seats, Maria has the map,
let's go to La Rochelle. The weather is cold, much colder than usual for the
first of july...
- The hotel is ideally located, a few kilometers at the south of La
Rochelle. We have one big family room. I killed 61 (yes sixty-one)
mosquitos in the room because the hotel crew has let the window open
and we have a small lake in front of us...
Boyard is not far away and the current greek team is in the hotel.
Even if you don't know about it, you'll hear it. They are noisy and
don't care about the other people. They smoke in the breakfast room
when nobody smokes, take reserved tables at the restaurant just hiding
the label "reserved". The hotel crew can't stand them and I can
understand that. They told us it's the worst team they have seen, and
they have teams from all over the world spending ten to fourteen days
at the hotel.
- As usual, there are now more pizzerias everywhere than seefood.
Berk. A good restaurant in Les Boucholeurs : Le Platin.
- We went to Rochefort and Royan. In Rochefort, the last bar on the
left hand side in the main market street when you come from the large
parking places charged us 0.4 euros for a small (12dl) glass of water.
It was probably the first time it happened to us in the last ten
is very nice. Too bad one quarter of the waterfront is ugly, with concrete
buildings from the 50's/60's. The rest of the town is great and I could spend a month there. It's amazing how the landscape and the people are different from the other side of the Gironde. In Royan, people have almost no accent. On the other side, people have a singing accent. Rocks and oaks on one side, sand and pinetrees on the other.
- Took the boat to cross the Gironde, from Royan to La Pointe de
Graves and drove south towards Hossegor
to see my parents and leave them the children. Seefood from Ducamp's in
Capbreton, of course. Oysters, shrimps, fish, aaaaah
- Leaving for Pau
de Comminges. A very very very VERY small fortified village, old
enough to have quite a lot of roman ruins, on the top of a hill in the
Pyrenees. Delicious food at the hotel, l'Oppidum.
A funny detail, about the roman roots of the village : the poplar is
not a native tree in the Pyrenees. But the wild forest around
Saint-Bertrand has a lot of poplars, really a lot.
- The hotel l'Oppidum relies more and more every day on the
Internet, of course. Most of their international reservations come from
emails but because they are in a small rural area, even if touristic,
they can't get broadband. France Telecom will provide aDSL access only
if 50 want to subscribe. Hey, they are probably 30 people in the
village during the summer!
- Took the longest way to Foix.
Saint-Girons and Saint-Lizier. It's 1pm, everything is closed, I mean
really everything. Let's go.
- Foix has an incredible
and beautiful castle and it is the capital town of Ariège.
Well. If that can be called a capital town. That's a small and quite
sad city I must say. A lot of tramps. We chose one of the two famous restaurants in
town, le Sainte-Marthe.
Expensive prices, and nothing really special in your plate. Maria had
an entrecôte Rossini but the topping of foie gras was really not
a good one. My confit de canard was just lame, probably the worst one
in my life.
- Went to Andorra.
Andorra is one of the "small european territories". It is a small
principality, having its own seat at UN, with two co-princes : the
President of the French Republic (hey, can you believe Chirac detains a
temporal power ? bwahahaha) and the Bishop of Urgell in Spain. The bishop of Urgell is the last catholic cleric, besides the pope himself, detaining a temporal power. It's not
in the European Union as far as I can tell, and its frontiers with
France and Spain are a big supermarket. It's not what it used to be
though, and the prices I found for 2 gigs CF cards or digital cameras
were not attractive. Fifteen years ago, the french price of electronic
devices was often twice the andorran one. Of course, it's another story
if you like alcohol and smoke cigarettes or cigars. Next time, I want
to go to Llivia, the spanish enclave in France.
- Stopped in Tarascon sur Ariège on our way back. Small
town, dying of rural exodus. It has a BIG cultural center called, of
course, François Mitterrand. Its architecture is ugly, and it
loses a lot of space. A good choice.
- So many old cars in Ariège... It's probably a quite poor
area in France. You can also find there "neo-68ards" as we call them.
They left the city and materialism after May 1968 and settled in rural
areas. Most of them left, but the ones who are still here are doing
well. Ok, they still have strange clothes and look, and you wonder if
their 10 years old children already smoke marijuana.
- Carcassonne... Superb
place, I just can't describe it. Give yourself a favor, spend two days
in Carcassonne. We had lunch in the Old City. Surprisingly, it was good
and the service was friendly and great. Given the number of tourists in
the Old City, you could expect bad quality and rough people. No, they
are polite and smiling and the quality was good.
- Stayed the night at the Chateau de Cavanac. Great hotel,
expensive though. My parents' friends Max and Annie told us the hotel's
restaurant deserved a stop so we went there. Superb room, made for Dyonisos himself! Unfortunately, the food was not at that level, in particular
for the price. The lobster was dry, the foie gras was so-so, the red wine, from the local vineyard, was just bad, a real "piquette" as we say here. The
white and rosé were acceptable
- more later...