Whenever we leave Gruissan I feel just a little sad for some reason. Despite the annoying wind we have come to rather like the place and when we leave it’s usually to head north and home.
We still had over a week of our trip left as we drove over the Montagne de la Clape, leaving the Mediterranean behind us and heading for a supply top up in Narbonne.
Fuel tank and supply cupboards replenished we drove past Beziers and on to the A75 motorway, surely one of the best roads in France. Across the hot, dry coastal plains, surrounded by vineyards and on towards the hills of the Cevennes, hazy in the distance. Past Pézenas and Lodève and the road starts its steep climb into the Massif Central. At over 800m it levels out as we drove on towards Millau. This time, instead of our usual detour off the motorway to go through the town we turned west and deep into the hills of Aveyron to cross the river Tarn at St-Rome-de-Tarn.
The views as we started our decent into the river valley were superb. Small villages, their stone houses huddled close together around the church and defensive towers, were scattered among the steep hills. The road twisted and turned down the side of the valley eventually crossing the river and starting its equally steep climb up the other side. We stopped at a viewpoint with tremendous views across the river valley and the Millau Viaduct in the hazy distance.
It was not too much further to our destination at Salles Curan, a small town beside a large lake. The aire we were intent on visiting was sited in an old municipal camp site on the banks of the Lac de Pareloup, over 2500ft up in the hills. The Lac is simply enormous, dammed at one end and spreading through several valleys. Our site was on the steep eastern bank and the well spaced pitches were on three terraces with tremendous views across the water. Entry (GPS 44.20027° 2.77601°) was via automated barriers with payment by credit card. €11 per 24hrs, including all water and waste plus electric hook-up. The original camp site had 70 pitches but there were only about 7 occupied when we arrived so there was loads of space to spread out. We decided to spend up to four nights there providing the weather held. It was, as the title says, simply sublime.
Kate was in raptures about the place which earned me brownie points plus a definite Gold Star for finding it.
The next couple of days were spent just sitting in the sun enjoying the quiet and the view across lake and countryside. Occasionally the voices of chaps fishing from the stony beach below drifted up or the bellow of cattle way across the other side of the water could be heard. There were a few power boats on the water and a small sailing dinghy with a bright red sail drifted slowly, very slowly, across to the far bank and then, just as slowly made its way back. The days were idillic, with us moving from sun to shade when it got too hot and as the afternoons wore on the sun set over the hills ahead of us with lovely displays of orange and red.