Vailhan municipal aireFebruary 2 in France ⋅ 🌧 7 °C
Vailhan is a small hill village, so small in fact that it doesn't even have a boulangerie. However, it does have a 6 place municipal aire, in which we are parked, looking out onto the small olive trees that border it.
Some might describe today's weather as wet, miserable, overcast or dour. We like to think of it as travelling weather. The landscape has flattened out somewhat. The hills now roll instead of jutting up aggressively towards the sky. Although the views are less arresting, it does make for wider, straighter roads and easier driving. Even so, digital signs above a dual carriageway reminded us that snow chains are obligatory in this region.
The road to Vailhan led us through kilometres of agricultural land and forested countryside. Although there were olive groves, the main crop was grapes, with many different ages of vines planted neatly and trellised in rows. We were wondering where we could possibly be headed, when the route swung round, climbed and we began to drive past light coloured buildings topped with attractive wavy terracotta tiles.
The aire sits close to a refurbished sandstone church with bell tower and Auberge du Presbytère, a nouveau cuisine restaurant with prices to match. The rain continued until well after sunset when a warden came round to collect the €5 fee that was clearly stated at the entrance. They were friendly and promised to turn the water tap on when we asked about it. We were happy to make this small contribution towards the town in exchange for our stay.
The night was wonderfully quite, save for the wind, which picked up and was rocking Martha Motorhome back and forth quite aggressively by morning time.
At first light Vicky set out along a footpath that was shown on Maps.Me. It climbed the hill, with views of the reservoir below through gaps in the trees. As she climbed woodland gave way to scrubland, with low thorny shrubs, wild grasses, thyme, lavender, and a type of sage. After the hill had plateaud the next low valley revealed itself, spread out for tens of square miles. Skirting round, there was a small, ruined castle perched on a craggy rock and a
stone shrine of Notre Dame de l'Ascension (Our Lady of the ascension). Vicky climbed up to the latter and was blown so viciously by the wind she almost lost her footing. From here there was a birdseye view over the whole of the village, she could even see the van!
Descending a steep rocky path the other side, she returned to Vailhan, passing by a well tended, walled allotment garden and even an old village clothes washing trough, of the sort we saw in rural Spain.
Back at Martha, after breakfast, we were unprepared when a small white van came round and beeped its horn. It had faded grey writing on its side to let people know it was a bread van, but by the time we'd decided we should get some croissants and Will had leapt out, it was driving off. It must travel from a neighbouring village to do daily deliveries. Oh well, never mind.
Vicky had enjoyed the walk so much that her enthusiasm bubbled over to Will and we revisited the route together before lunch, taking advantage of the dry (if still very windy) weather!Read more