Saturday, November 16, 2013

Banyuls sur Mer always worth a visit

It has been almost a week of high tramontana winds sometimes gusting to almost 100 kilometres per hour. Undaunted, we took a drive up the coast to the little French town Banyuls sur Mer. Of course we had that beautiful clear tramontana light, making everything look like it has been scrubbed clean. Since it hasn't rained for a very long time much of the ground on the vine terraces had a brown parched look.

We walked through the narrow streets to the la Guinelle shop to buy some olive oil. Of as it was after 12:30 the shop was closed until later. Since Banyuls is a 'summer town,' many of the shops and restaurants were closed for the winter. We found a pizzeria in a stone cave that was full of locals and was toasty warm. This looked like a perfect spot for lunch. Menu of the day was any pizza with any salad, wine and water. What a deal since they had lots of choice. The half pizza was served on a huge plate with a beautiful chef salad for Seamus and Roquefort salad for me. Superbe!

Then it was off to Carrefour on the edge of town. Closed until 3!. Never mind, not far away was the Mediterranean gardens that we had wanted to visit, with its collections of local and regional plants. We followed a narrow winding road up the mountainside, braving the horrible wind,  only to find it too was closed.

On the way we had spotted a lonely white chapel high on a ridge top. We followed a rough track that we thought might take us there. Our little Fiat gave its best impression of four-wheel drive. It scrambled nimbly up the first slope but as the ruts got deeper reality prevailed and we returned the way we came.

Carrefour was now open so we returned there to do some shopping. The French cheeses on display were magnifique. Back in the olive oil shop we discovered that there was none left because it was a small production from just one olive grove. Not a problem, we will come back in December when the new crop has been harvested. Now it was home for a cup of tea and a hazelnut croquant bought in the Roussillon specialty store. I would call that a good ending to our day.

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