Today is a sleep-in day and judging by the gentle morning we all have, we are much in need of a slow day. Janis does the boulangerie run today and successfully returns with croissants and 2 baguettes and a big smile. Pas de problème!
Janis and I do the marketing picking up green beans and melon for dinner, apricots and cherries for snacks tomorrow. Since we are in Montpelier tomorrow, and the market is here again on Thursday, there's no point in stocking up. Clark and Dave make a run to Super U to purchase laundry and dish soap and somehow return with napoleans and "forêt noire" (black forest cake) for dessert. Hmmm... that wasn't on the list, but no one is refusing to have their share for dinner.
We do a few chores, including a load of laundry and leave the house shortly after noon in search of Moules-frites (mussels and french fries)at the beach, Valras-Plage. It's a good day to be heading to the beach. Sitting on the terrace in the morning shade is very pleasant, despite the 30+ degree (86 F) heat. On the beach we guess the heat is about 95 although a town thermometer and the car register over 40 degrees C, which would be over 100. But the breeze is pleasant and it's cool enough in the shade.
We are again able to park right along the boardwalk next to the beach, just a block from a cluster of restaurants.
We pick a restaurant with a view of the beach that offers a variety of moules-frites, approximately 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of mussels per serving. We each order a different kind, Janis, the marinière (that's the classic); Clark, the Roquefort; Dave, the cream; and Lynn, the piquant (mildly spicy red sauce). To go with, we get a bottle of Faugères rosé. It's all deliciously satisfying.
Janis, Clark and Dave walk the beach for an hour while I find a breezy, shady seat along the boardwalk to do my cross stitch.
The Mediterranean is the blue color we all associate with this beautiful sea, reflecting the cloudless blue sky above it. Mt Canigou is barely visible in the distance (about 200 kilometers), but is hung with clouds that obscure a good view.
We find an ice cream store with 30 flavors of ice cream and each get a 2 boules (2 scoops). Yum!
We drive home, stopping at the baby store one last time on our way back into town. Then it's back home where I am now sitting to write this blog, Janis and Clark are packing, and Dave is drinking wine on the terrace, having found a shady, breezy spot to his liking.
On our way in, we see that there is a table covered in a cloth with an open book on it. This is all covered by a removable plastic covering to protect the book from the elements. The old gentleman who lived next door to our house has died after a long illness. His family has been there for several days now, and today we see the hearse in the driveway of his front garden. The book is a custom here (and probably other small villages in France). It is a "guest" book for offering condolences to the family. It is placed publicly on the sidewalk allowing anyone who wants to to write their condolences to the family. It also lists the time and place of the funeral for any who want to attend. This is the second funeral on our street this week and rather unusual, Marian tells us. At any rate, it's a nice custom, although it requires a small town and relatively mild climate to actually work.
Marian tells us that this heat is typical of May weather and the heat will increase into the summer. Air conditioning here is still not usual, although you do see window units on many houses. There are breezes that make the heat tolerable and it is dry rather than humid, which helps as well.
I'm thinking that we have come at the exact right time of year. We've seen the fields, roadsides, and cracks in the rocks fill with untold numbers of wild flowers. Roses are blooming in everyone's garden and the scraggly dead flowers have been removed from the flower pots, replaced by red geraniums. Bare balconies now have window boxes of flowers hanging over them and the vinyards are bursting with leaves and setting grapes. The temperature has been mild and for the most part the days have been sunny, making travel delightful as the getting there is as full of views as the end destination. Tourist sites have been empty of the typical summer hoards and the beaches have been easily accessible.
In the next few weeks, the wild flowers will dry up and the fields will turn brown with the heat. The temperature will stay in the high 90's pushing 100 which will make touring more difficult. Places will be crowded and traffic on these little roads will be endless traffic jams.
Something to remember for next time.