La Route Causses et Vallées de l’Hérault
We decide to take today a little easier and do some local driving,
hitting some of the neighbouring hamlets and following ancient routes and highways that traverse the windswept hills and valleys called La Route Causses et Vallées de l’Hérault. The Hérault is the major river of this area, and it gives the département its name. The signpost beckons us to “set out on a journey of discovery of the land of the great highways, following the trail of the Chevalier Pons de l’Héra”. This takes us from St. Fréchoux up into the mountains through lovely little towns with incredible vistas. Winding up and down through hairpin turns, we follow the route of the Chevalier whose young, privileged and obviously boring life lead him to steal everything he could get his hands on, mostly from his neighbours (and particularly their livestock). After years of plundering, he announced his miraculous conversion one fateful Christmas Day and sold off all his worldly belongings to repay all those to whom he had caused suffering and hardship for all those years, and committing his life to God. What a guy!
The weather is incredible – warm sunny days, in the high 20s, breaking into coolish evenings, the sun setting just after 8 pm. Today is no different, providing wonderful views from the craggy hilltops. We wind our way back to Lodève and a very late lunch with a very jolly host. He has a very limited lunch menu today – there is in fact only one item left, a lovely lamb kabob salad with couscous. What he lacks in food choices he certainly makes up with his quirky sense of humour. He also informs us that because we are no longer “in the season” it is hard to keep staff and to offer many food choices. All of this is in French, of course. Still, we are happy to be able to eat outside on a lovely patio on the first day of October.
Our drive brings us back to Clermont l’Hérault and our internet café, where we update the website and finalize some bookings for our two day drive to Paris on Friday and Saturday. Rosemary answers some email, sending notes to her daughter Midge at school in Massachusetts, and to husband Charlie and son Foster in Michigan. We book a very lovely hotel as a treat for Rose’s last night in Montpelier before her 6:40 a.m. flight home on Tuesday. We will be staying at a Relais & Chateaux hotel called Le Jardin des Sens, which has a restaurant as its main drawing card that is rated 3 stars in Michelin’s Le Guide Rouge. Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for our wallets!) the restaurant is closed on Mondays. Perhaps John and I will have to return before we leave, and really blow the budget.
Frick and Frack on Duty Again
We make a dinner reservation for 8:30 tonight at Le Tournesol, back here in Clermont l’Hérault, and head home for quick naps and a change of clothes before turning around and coming back into town for dinner. Frick and Frack are on duty again, and we watch their antics and laugh at their slapstick service. We have noticed – not only here but in other restaurants in France in which we have eaten – that there is generally a throw-the-plates-on-the-table style of service that, for us, takes away from the ambience and quality of the food that is being presented. The French, however, seem as unfazed by this style of service as they are about everything else. We seem to be happily stretching our already overstretched eating budget, as we have certainly been eating very well during our time here in the south of France.
Rosemary’s company has been a wonderful incentive to enjoy all the pleasures of both Provence and Languedoc Roussillon. Her friendship and company is also very welcome after our months of travelling together. 10 months of twenty-four/seven is, admittedly, starting to wear on us both. We predicted that there might be a time to welcome friends into our trip, and Rosemary this week and David and Kathryn last week have been appreciated companions: we have had familiar and lively discussions and lots of catching up over dinners and glasses of wine in our little chateauxs in Calonge and St. Fréchoux.