Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Day eleven - Lamalou les Bains
Our only plan for today was to visit Lamalou les Bains, which is a once famous spa town and only a few minutes away. After that we thought we might head off into gorge country. Lamalou les Bains still has three spas with thermal hot springs but only one is public and that one only if you sign up for various spa packages. The other two spas are now government run rehabilitation centres. The unfortunate clients could be seen hobbling or wheelchairing their way around the main street and generally getting in our way as we tried to find a coffee. We took an instant dislike to the place, which was confirmed when loud speakers hidden in the trees all along the main street bombarded us with a five minute announcement. It felt like an episode from The Prisoner (a great sixties spy series in which Patrick McGoohan finds himself in a mysterious holiday village from which no one can escape).
We did escape after picking up some groceries. We had decided that we would prepare a few of our own meals, since we had the facilities and were tired of staggering home late at night over-filled with restaurant food. This quest had it frustrations. We got some vegetables in Lamalou but thought the best spot for the rest of our needs would require a visit further down the road in Benardieux. Unfortunately road works on the one of the town's one way streets caused us to get stuck in a traffic jam and we never did find what we were looking for (but did get another coffee). In the end the easiest solution was to brave the local hypermart and there we did find what we needed.
By this time it seemed a little late to be thinking of visiting the Herault Gorge so elected instead to head back to Olargues, a beautiful hillside town in which we had stopped on our way to Herepian two days before. We were anticipating a visit to a very nice restaurant overlooking the river but were out of luck as it was closed on Wednesdays, and our second choice was no longer serving food as it was by now 2 pm, closing time for many restauraunts. Dark mutterings about the French work ethic ensued. We pulled into another restaurant also obviously closing up but for what ever reasons the proprietor let us in. We ate alone as the staff readied the tables for reopening at 7 pm. We had some more Rose, this one a blend of Syrahh, Grenache and I forget. Our meal was accompanied by the restaurant sound system. I dont know if they have trailer parks in France, but if they do, and if there was a wedding at one, this is the music they might play at the reception.
For several days now El has been insisting that we had passed by sites of previous Tour De France stages. As it turns out Colmbieres Sur Orbe is not the same Col De Colombiere that has featured in probably many races but it gave us an excuse to turn up the mountain side and enjoy some amazing views before winding down into the next valley and back to the main road. El has also been trying to feed sugar cubes to some Camarague horses in the field next to our car park. She couldn't figure out why they seemed a bit reluctant. What the horses knew and what El eventually figured out is that one of the fence strands was electrified!
We had a leisurely afternoon on our balcony before preparing our own simple but delicious meal of tomatoes, basil and a kind of loval chevre that is just like the buffalo mozarella we usually use. Before this we had rabbit and hazelnut terrine.We bought some chicken and had canteloupe for dessert. I think we'll do this again. Last night the server gave me a really odd look when I didn't finish my kidneys. Seamus wouldn't do that! Tomorrow Montpellier.