november retreat 1: gentle journey

For reasons that are all too apparent now, I need to fix this return trip, Sabbers to the UK… I am gaining comfort from it even as I try to give out the gist of it, at this remove of some six months is it?

Just two days before we started packing up to come to the motherland the weather turned ugly, the wind cranked up and we had some water through the roof. Not a lot, but enough to summon Mr Fernandes. The next day a couple of our roof tiles shifted too, one flying off down the road. We left that to Mr Fernandes too. Don't worry, I will get to it as soon as I can, he said, and we are pretty sure he did just that. We'd check it when we were out in the Spring, don't worry about it.

We were determined to try and make a memorable progress back from PACA84 even this late in the year, as we had the son-and-heir with us, taking his delayed annual leave (from Spring).
So this is what we did: [nb: if you click on it you can get it full screen so that you you can admire the wonderful detail and clarity of design to the full! Not many people know that you know…]

Day one: 15 November: As is the way of things, departure day was contrastingly clement. A bit of mist and low cloud… I remember thinking as I steered the motor along the Camaret ring road — no need to give Le Géant a last look because we'd be seeing it all again in Spring, a few short months away. Ahem.

So, on to the A9 auto route, and in a short hour and a half, off again to sink some breakfast in Sète, the clouds left behind north of Montpellier, bright blue skies for our petit dejéuner canal-side in the old town. Never imagine it was two weeks into November; croissants so good that we re-crossed the bridge over the grand canal and patronised the source of the croissants for our lunch takeaway in baguette sandwich form, made to order with some humour. 

Back on the road along the coastal strand, stopping off for a short walk along the now deserted beach. I don't think we had set foot thereupon with Adam at least, since he was in a romper suit… And of course we could not bypass Marseillan. Have we ever, without the customary stroll down the port? Everything more or less closed at this time of the year, such as La Pacheline. But come on come on, we must get on!

We were still in time to take the A75 for the climb up into the hills, slipping off near Le Caylar and making a hillside stop-by for the sandwich lunch. Fabulous sandwiches: a man could be happy and never seek to better such substantial sustenance.

Replete, we motored on without further recourse to the A75, to reach the town, or is it city of Millau, the place the Millau viaduct was built to save. Our hotel – buried deep in the centre, but found by a combination of perseverance, shouting and Mme Melling's failsafe sense of direction. The remainder of daylight hours were used to gain an idea of the town, passed through before but not previously patronised by a stop over. I found it reasonable but not a contender for world heritage consideration… the other two in the party were considerably more moved by the place.

I have to own the evening restaurant was special. Wonderful, original (see bottom right, before the pleasure of the food we consumed had manifested itself before us). It might persuade me of another Millau stopover, you know, next time, when we come this way again – say in the Spring? 

Ha – hollow laugh…

The two pictures in the bottom panel that do not feature a fountain were suppled by Mme Melling.