Journey to Cotignac

I’m getting a bit behind with my postings as we have been in France now for a week ☺️.  So without further ado, let me tell you how we got here….

We left L’Estartit on the 2nd January with a view to have an easy two day drive to Cotignac.  We had decided not to spend more time travelling in France for a couple of reasons, finding campsites that are open in winter and then sites that have toilet seats and paper (unlikely) and heated shower facilities, also a bit of a challenge.

We also decided to use the very expensive French Peage (toll) roads which would cut our journey time by about half and avoid us using the frankly badly maintained roads going through every small town or village that would be the alternative.  Gosh I am painting a bad (but true) picture aren’t I?  But compared with Spain the French non-toll roads are bloody awful – so many roundabouts.

Our first planned overnight stop was at a site outside Beziers.  We arrived at lunchtime and I’m so glad we did.  The reception wasn’t open which isn’t unusual, so we parked up and took a quick look around.  The shower and toilet block was essentially an open sided Barn with saloon style doors opening out to the outside.  It’s January for God’s sake, even in Southern Spain it gets nippy at night.  I can’t imagine anyone but the most (fool)hardy would want to shower outside, as this was what was essentially on offer.  The washing up facilities (also outside) were dirty and had no water, hot or cold.  The toilets as expected had no seats but there was toilet paper, Whoopeee!

We had a quick conflab and decided if we got a move on, we could reach the site we had earmarked for the following night, before it got dark.  With a screech of our wheels we got the hell out of there, hoping that the next site would be better.

Luckily it was.  We arrived around 4:30pm, met by the lovely owner who gave us a great spot near the heated shower block.  So glad because boy was it cold and blowing a gale.  The site overlooks the Étang de Berre, near a small town called Saint-Mitre-les-Remparts.  As we had arrived a day earlier than we had planned, we had the following day to take a walk and look around.  The beach opposite the site was beautiful in a cold winters sort of way.

We came across the sheep (top and bottom left above) on our site being ‘herded’ by a couple of bored looking teenagers and an enthusiastic dog.  The sheep were obviously used to this and seemed unphased when we found them later grazing on a grassy bank on the site.

We walked into the village proper, much of which was old and picturesque.

We were intrigued by the old outdoor wash house (top left) and the open drain that run from it behind the houses and eventually out of the old town (below left).  Some of the houses backing onto the drain had sluices which we initially thought might have been diverted water into the homes.  That was until it dawned on us that the water coming from the wash house when it was in use, would be dirty and the sluices behind the houses were more likely to have been used to get rid of dirty water and probably sewage.  It was after all an open drain and it was hundreds of years ago when these were built and used.  Must have got pretty ripe back then.  Lovely now though!

We also found a café via google maps here which also felt like taking a step back in time.  We opened the door to have the half dozen men drinking wine and spirits (it was around 11am) turn round to give us a good look before carrying on their conversations.  The air was thick with smoke, no wimpy EU directives outlawing indoor smoking here.  Wouldn’t have been that surprised if some of the customers were off duty policemen.  We stayed for an average tasting cup of coffee and left.  I had to wash my hair to get rid of the smoke smell.  Enjoyed the experience though, quite amusing!

So having had an interesting stop, we left in the morning of the 4th to meet Andrea in Cotignac that afternoon to start our house sit.

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