Caves, Narbonnaise Natural ParkJanuary 11 in France
Beginning the day high up, we descended towards the coast. The use of land for agriculture became more intense and we found ourselves surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. We continued to drop down through a huge gorge with sandstone villages in the lower reaches and crucifixes erected on the peaks.
As we approached sea level we began to see large succulents with long pointed leaves growing wild and even passed a garden centre dedicated to palm trees. Unsettlingly we also saw a woman standing in a layby. We tried not to jump to conclusions but then saw another and another. The vegetation had reminded us of southern Italy and now we'd discovered something else the two places had in common; roadside prostitution.
Close to our stopover we caught a glimpse of a far away Mediterranean Sea, its bright turquoise unmistakable. Pulling off the D6009 we pulled up in a lorry park in La Palme. It was pretty empty, with only one HGV and a few cars.
Settling down with a cuppa we set about calling Saga to renew the van insurance and Will's brother for a catchup. A lot of cars had been pulling in, doing a circuit of the parking area then leaving. We didn't think anything of it until Vicky was cleaning the windowsills and a silver BMW drove slowly by the van, stopped and reversed until the guy driving was level with the window. He looked at Vicky with a lecherous grin on his face and nodded his head. It quickly dawned on Vicky that he was kerb crawling and thought she was a prostitute. Her skin began to crawl and she swished the curtain closed. He drove off but circled round and passed slowly by the van half a dozen times before finally disappearing up the road. We began to pay close attention to the cars pulling in and all contained a single male apart from one, who dropped a woman off near the entrance. With the realisation that this was a place for punters to pick up prostitutes we unsurprisingly no longer felt comfortable and took the decision to move 4.5km down the road to a different village.
Vicky was upset by the incident but fortunately the place we stopped at in Caves had no hint of seediness about it. A dry and open patch of grassland outside a primary school, it was bordered by a few low rise self contained houses on 2 sides, a basketball court and large stoney fields of vines on the others. We could even make out the sea a few miles away on the horizon!
The wind was strong and buffeted the van but the sun had been out nearly all day and the brightness was a welcome change. Will tried flying his kite but the very high winds proved too much and he soon retreated in to the van for a warming cuppa. As the light faded a rosy glow lit up the clouds and we were greeted in the morning with an intense amber sunrise over the mountains.Read more