Monday, 19 August 2013

Postcards from the Camargue

Yes, we went to Provence in August, yes to Aix-en-Provence: mad.
Actually it was wonderful, everything: hotel (found one) the churches, fountains, food, window shopping, Cézanne . . .
The journey back was less wonderful as we had chosen to travel (optimistic — oh, it'll be fine . . .)  on one of the 'do not travel' days in France (everyone going to or leaving the coast).
By about three we hit the traffic queues on the motorway. My response to this is to take any possible diversion: goat tracks, winding piddly roads, look at trees, feet up in a car park and read until the crowds disperse, anything than sit in a line of cars weaving their way in and out of lanes in order to be twenty inches nearer to their destination. Mark will go generally for the sit and wait, inch forward option. 
We tried a bit of both and mostly didn't get cross or accuse the other for making the wrong decision. My last desperate plea resulted us arriving, after an hour of driving around Lunel, in a small town called something like Moribund, where they were having their annual 'annoying bulls' festival.
I had imagined in my fevered mind, a small shady square, church bells, a cold beer and the satisfaction of having made an excellent choice in getting off the tarmac hell-strip. Not so.
The square was not shady: 38 degrees or so and covered in white foam from some fun event that had obviously involved bucket-loads of Pastis and terrible music. The next group were tuning up, barricades being erected for further street-long bull annoying, and people were looking at us in a strange way.
I hurried Mark away in his pink flowery shirt and we drank some tepid water sitting by the car comparing piles of dog shit, while we considered that we might never get home and perhaps in fact this was purgatory: foam, pissed off bulls, pastis, bad music, Moribund 'en fete'.
I studied the map again and discovered with a hundred percent delight that there were 'cabanes' marked on the map



Cabanes on French coast usually means a collection of small low houses, or 'shackery' as my mother would have termed them, sitting close to the water's edge, for fishing or general leisure purposes.
We went there and the day turned from motorway/weird town depression to an art filled memory.
It was the best Cabanes area I can remember: colourful eccentric houses with chicken filled gardens, home made benches, rambling plants, a river with futting boats, abandoned sheds, waving grass, herons and liquid miles of glassy sea, the surface broken by the occasional plop of a fish.
I strode to the sea (etang) removed clothes and sank ankle deep into rich mud before swimming gratefully out into the soft water, admiring the distant views of 'La Grande Motte' on the distant shoreline.

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