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Top 10 Travel Destinations Occitania

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  • Day51

    Rocamadour - the Cliffside Pilgrim Site

    October 10, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    "I think we should go to Rocamadour", she said. "It's very close to here", she added. Although I had never heard of the place, she convinced me that it really was one of the most amazing places in the whole of the Dordogne Region. In such circumstances it is futile to resist.

    "When do you want to leave ?", I meekly asked. Soon we were sitting in the car, entering the details into the GPS system. "This time we want the FAST option", I demanded. "No more of those tiny roads in the mountains".

    With the GPS loaded, we wound our way out of Sarlat and headed towards Rocamadour. According to the GPS, it was about 50 km and 90 minutes away. How did that calculate ? Soon I had the answer and it was not the one I had been hoping for.

    Once again we had been directed onto the narrowest, most circuitous, roughest and certainly the most dangerous tracks in the entire district. Where were the wide highways that I wanted ? Certainly not here.

    Within the first 10 km Maggie had changed her mind about seeing Rocamadour. "I want to go back", she screamed, with her fingernails imbedded deep in my right thigh. "It's too late now, there's no space to turn around". I also added "Remember that this was your idea, not mine". I also pointed out that it was about 50 km to the elusive hilltop town, hardly the "very close" that she had claimed.

    There was no denying that the scenery was beautiful. With the trees now fully decked out in the full range of autumn shadings, they were simply breathtaking. At times we drove above the Dordogne River, but the roads were always too narrow to stop to take a picture.

    A couple of hours of very nervous driving later, we finally arrived at the ancient town. The records of this place date back to the 12th century and it is surrounded in myths that have attracted pious pilgrims walking the Way of St James for hundreds of years. Whenever you see the way that the ancient stonemasons were able to build massive churches and abbeys precariously clinging to almost vertical cliffsides, you have to appreciate their skill and hard work. And all without the assistance of power tools and computers.

    Rocamadour was once one of the four most important pilrimmage sites in Christendom and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perhaps the reason for the religious importance was the discovery of an apparently incorruptable body in this location, way back in 1166. Early pilgrims used to climb to the summit on their knees but, since my knee is not yet fully recovered after my accident in Sancere, I decided against that option.

    In one place a large number of plaques testify to a range of miracles that have been attributed to divine intervention. Many of these miracles relate to ships at sea. That is why there are numerous models of boats in the church sanctuary.

    Of course Maggie took one look over her head and stated that she would NOT be climbing to the top. I reminded her that, if I could drive here, she could make the effort to overcome her fear of heights. She promised to think about it.

    After a lovely lunch on a terrace with a panoramic view and a little retail shopping therapy, she felt a little better. All women do. She reluctantly agreed to come to the top and, once she was there, she was thrilled at the unbelievable views we were rewarded with. Perhaps it really was worth all that we had gone through to get there after all.

    The drive back to Sarlat did not seem anywhere near as frightening, probably because we took a completely different route that time and avoided the tiny tracks.

    We finished the day with an evening walk around the centre of Sarlat and then returned for dinner in our apartment. It had been quite a day.
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  • Day4

    Euro5000: Alpes-Maritimes - Saint-Tropez

    September 10, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    European5000 - Stage 4&5: The day of extremes, from -2C to +30C in less than 24 hours! #European5000 #ColDeLaBonette #2715m #ColDeTurini #ColDeVar #TeamPetitBateau #PetitBateau #ThanksLuc&Odette #ThanksCindy&Paul #E38 #728 #FunnyChallengesRead more

  • Day13

    The Loop of Aramon

    September 2, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    Human beings are very adaptable creatures. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we can adjust to circumstance which, even a couple of days earlier, seemed quite challenging. Coping with life on a river barge is a perfect example of this.

    When we first climbed on board the L'Estello, just two days ago, the first thing that everyone noticed was just how tiny the cabins are. For many of our group they are probably the smallest rooms they have ever had to live in. In addition to the small size you have the added challenges of (almost) no windows. This can be very hard to cope with if you suffer with claustrophobia.

    Of course the challenge of cabin living reaches its epitome when you enter the "en suite" bathroom. While every cabin is equipped with its own bathroom, they are not exactly of 5 star (or even 1,2 or 3 star) standard. I suspect that the bathrooms were fitted out at a time before most of us were even born, Considering the incredible age of our riders, that is really saying something.

    The tiles in the bathroom are liberally covered in a layer of black mould and a sign above the toilet warns the occupant not to put any type of waste in it. I had previously thought that that was toilets were there for, but now I know better. Each bathroom is also equipped with a hand held shower and tiny basin. Of course it requires the consummate skill of a master magician to be able to shower without saturating everything else in the room. This is a skill that Maggie has not yet mastered.

    The diminutive size of the cabins would not be such a problem if you were only going to be in France for a week or two. If that was the case you could probably get by with a small case or backpack. The problem is that we will be travelling in France for two months and therefore have come with "beaucoup de baggage". By the time we crammed the two suitcases into our cabin, there was virually no room for either of us to enter.

    In case you are thinking that we must be crazy to embark upon such a cruise, I can assure you that we are in fact all having an absolute ball. Although the cabins are small, they are well air conditioned and the beds are actually quite comfortable, even if you have to sleep with your knees under your chin.

    The other key point to mention is that the cabins are only for sleeping, bathing and using the toilet. The life on the barge centres in the lounge and dining rooms. That is where the group members spend virtually all their spare time. It is this type of shared camaraderie that is not felt on the huge modern river boats.

    Today began with a 60 minute cruise out of Avignon to the village of Aramon. That os where we unloaded the bikes and started our ride. The forecast was for a much more comfortable temperature of around 26C, however we did find that this estimate was exceeded my middle afternoon. Although the extreme high temperature was missing, its place had been taken by the arrival of the Mistral - the howling wind that is a feature of the region. It is the Mistral wind that had destroyed many a peloton in the Tour de France and we felt its full force during today's ride.

    The ride took the form of a loop ride, starting and finishing in Aramon. The main highlight was the towering Roman viaduct at Pont de Gard. I had seen pictures of this engineering wonder in many books, but nothing can prepare you for seeing it in the flesh. The scale is incredible and it is mind boggling to think that something that was constructed 2000 years ago can still stand so proudly and securely. It had survived the dark ages, the Renaissance, numerous wars and revolutions and untold numbers of governments. You cannot help but wonder at the brilliance of the designers and builders.

    The outward ride to the Pont de Gard had been a real struggle into the head wind, but we were relieved to experience that most rare of all cycling phenomena on the return leg - a raging tail wind. Even with the assistance of the tail wind, it was still a long and tiring day in the saddle and we were all very happy when we finally reached the welcome sanctuary of our boat.
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  • Day18

    A Terrible Crime is Discovered

    September 7, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    After 8 days on the boat, I would be lying a little if I said that we were sorry to be leaving the confines of our cabin. It is not exactly easy to live in a space about the same size as a dwarf's coffin. Although each person evolves their own survival strategies for storing their gear, washing themselves and doing their laundry, as the week progresses it is normal for each person to start fantasizing about what they are going to do when they get to a hotel room. "I can't wait to see inside my case again", "I am going to spend an entire hour under the shower", "I will wash my socks and undies for the first time in a week"," I haven't brushed my teeth since leaving Melbourne", and so on.

    By 8 am our riders were dragging their cases up the winding stairs from the cabins to the main deck. With so little room to move , it was a miracle that no one was crushed under the weight of a falling suitcase. Three men helped Carol and Sam manouevre their bulging bags to the deck. It was obvious that our time on the boat had drawn to a close.

    I advised everyone to do a double check of their rooms to make sure that no tiny item had been overlooked. A few minutes later Sam poked her head up the staircase to announce that she had found that Carol had left about half of her belongings in the drawer under the bed. That was the reason her case only weighed 19 kg. Some time later Carol had retrieved several kg more of her (nearly) lost luggage and we started saying our final goodbyes to our new American friends.

    The strange thing is that, after a few days, we will all forget the difficult aspects of boat living, and then only recall all the laughs and fun we shared together. Next year we will back on another bike and barge along the Moselle.

    It was only as we were starting to drag our cases to the shore that things took a dark turn. Arie appeared with a look of shock and anger on his face. "Three of the ebike locks are missing", he shouted. We looked at each other, wondering why anyone would want to add a 3 kg chain and lock to their already heavy suitcases. "This has never happened before", he added. It was apparently a very serious matter. In Europe wars have apparently started over less serious issues.

    We all then embarked on a hue and cry to look for the missing chains. Panniers were stripped, cupboards were opened, guilty ebike riders were questioned under a bright light. Locks were counted and recounted, but the total was still three short. I thought that the brilliant Inspector Clouseau might be rushed from Paris to help crack the infamous case of the stolen locks. After all, this had all the makings of an international incident involving France, Australia, the USA and Holland. Although Donald Trump would probably downplay it as "fake news", it was becoming quite stressful for us.

    After an interminable period of searching and hypothesizing about the location of the missing locks, I came to the conclusion that they were probably somewhere on the bottom of the canal. Arie had no choice other than to admit that they had truly disappeared and he reluctantly allowed us to leave the boat. It was a slightly disappointing end to a fun ride, but I am sure that they will turn up somewhere and the tarnished reputation of the Ghostriders will be rightfully restored.

    We then formed a luggage peloton to drag our bags across the city to the hotel we had booked for the next two nights. In spite of a few rough cobblestoned sections, we all managed to reach the Hotel Chez Carriere without suffering a serious castor malfunction. The hotel is situated in an ideal location, right near the centre of the old walled city. It will make a lovely temporary base of operations while we explore the town.

    The name Aigues Mortes means "Dead Waters" and the swampy region has been used as a place to harvest salt since Roman times. The large areas of marshland also make it an ideal breeding ground for hungry mosquitoes. The recorded history of the town dates back thousands of years and the huge fortified city wall that now stands here played a significant role in the Crusades of the 13th century.

    The pilgrims and penitents that helped establish the city must have been a very colourful bunch. Over the past few days we have discovered chapels for the "White Penitents", the "Black Penitents" and even the "Grey Penitents". I am not sure exactly what a "grey penitent" is, but perhaps they were a sort of medieval fence sitter. The only thing missing was a chapel for the rainbow penitents, but I guess they came several centuries later.

    Maggie and I spent most of the afternoon wandering the narrow streets of the old city. The town has an inordinate number of cafes and art galleries, obviously catering largely for tourism. In the cool of the evening these outdoor cafes are packed with diners, and the streets echo with the sounds from numerous buskers. I am sure we will all return to Australia with amazing memories of our time spent here. The name might mean dead waters, but the place ceratinly seems full of life to me.
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  • Day19

    Very Unwelcome News from Home

    September 8, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    It is not easy travelling on an extended overseas holiday when you have pets at home. After all, they don’t seem to be able to look after themselves. Not only do they require feeding, dogs also need daily walks and cats need to have their every wish catered for. Fortunately there exists a particular kind of nomad called the “housesitter”. These people have adopted a gypsy lifestyle, whereby they exchange free accommodation and utilities in return for caring for pets that have been deserted by their globetrotting owners.

    We have used the services of several different housesitters in the past and have found that the arrangement was mutually beneficial to all parties concerned. We had assumed the same thing would apply this time, after all we had driven all the way down to Geelong to meet the potential sitter, many months before we were due to leave. We even introduced her to the dog that she would be looking after. We had no reason to believe that things would not go well.

    As it turned out the arrangements seemed to be going well for the two and a half weeks we have been travelling for. For the first few days we even got sent emailed “happy snaps” showing how well the cat and dog were being looked after. Even when the communications started to slow down, we assumed that all was going well. You can therefore imagine my surprise when I got a short message saying that the housesitter had decided to immediately pack up and leave. No warning, no opportunity to make other plans – she had just packed her bags and gone, leaving the pets in an empty house. Even more surprising was the way she ended her message with “have a happy holiday”.

    To say that this constituted something of a curveball would be an understatement. We then spent much of the morning on the phone trying to put alternate makeshift plans into operation. We have never heard of a sitter acting in such an irresponsible way before, but there was little we could do about it when we were on the other side of the planet. When Maggie’s sister arrived at our house to see what had happened, she found that not only were the animals left unattended, but the front door had been left damaged, the airconditioner was broken, the washing machine had been moved and some towels had been taken. I suppose under such circumstances we should have been glad that she had not stayed for the full two months as I don’t think the house would have survived. I guess we have learned to be far more selective in our choice of any future potential house sitters. In the meantime we will have to somehow get by with “Plan B” for the next 6 weeks.

    Since today was going to be our final full day in Aigues Mortes, I did not want the entire time there to be spoilt by the unwelcome news we had received. We had already decided that we should all visit the ramparts that surround the city. These fortified walls extend around the full 1.7 km perimeter of the old city and certainly would have posed a significant obstacle for any would be medieval invader.

    If we had been aged between 18 to 25 years of age we would have been able to get access for free. For some reason the ticket seller would not believe that I fell in that age range and charged me the full price of 8 Euro. There was no concession for old Australians at all, even if our ancestors had helped rescue France from destruction in both world wars.

    Once we climbed the stairs to the top of the imposing main tower I had to admit that it was worth every cent of the admission charge. The views out over the surrounding flat marshes were magnificent. In front of us we could see the long canal that our boat had followed to reach the city. I then spent the next 90 minutes walking the entire length of the ramparts. At irregular intervals the walls are punctuated by a succession of larger constructions. These were used for various functions, including chapels, prisons, forts, etc. The sheer amount of material and effort that had gone into the construction must have been incredible.

    By the middle of the afternoon I was feeling tired and returned to my room at the Chez Carriere. Our room was situated next door to Gael and Gerry’s. For some reason Gerry seemed to have an inordinate amount of difficulty unlocking their door. Every 30 minutes or so we would hear a prolonged ritual of clanking, banging, key turning, often punctuated by a period of loud cursing. Just when you thought that they had finally opened the door, it would start all over again. I am sure that it would have been easier to make a hole through the 5 metres thick stone ramparts, than to turn the key in Gerry’s lock. Although I tried to instruct him on the correct technique for opening this sort of lock, it was obviously a skill that he never managed to master. To the contrary, he actually seemed to get noisier with each successive opening and closing.

    Although we had no such difficulty with our lock, we did manage to almost shake the building from its foundations several times when we accidentally let the door slam shut. On such occasions I think the resultant bang would have been audible in Paris. In spite of these minor hiccups, the hotel really was a fantastic place to stay. The rooms were clean and comfortable, the air conditioners worked well, the location was perfect and the manager was delightful.

    Tomorrow we will be bidding adieu to Aigues Mortes as we undertake a gruelling all day train odyssey to take us to Nevers to begin the second part of our cycling adventure. After a three day break, I am sure that all our team is very eager to get rolling again.
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  • Day1


    October 11, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Wow! Driving a couple of hours we made it to France! We feel so good, eating some grapes and enjoying the audiobook "Money and The Law Of Attraction".

    Yes! Hemos llegado a Francia! Estamos super bien, comiendo uvas y disfrutando el audio libro "Money and The Law Of Attraction"

    Jesss! Saavuttiin parin tunnin ajon jälkeen Ranskaan!! Meillä on kaikki super hyvin. Ollaan syöty vinirypäleitä ja kuunneltu äänikirjaa "Money and the Law of Attraction
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  • Day31

    Camping Aloha Beach

    September 3, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Heute Morgen waren wir schon vor 8 Uhr mit den Hunden am Strand und genossen die Ruhe und den Sonnenaufgang an unserem schönen Stellplatz.

    Kurz vor 9 Uhr fuhren wir dann los zum Campingplatz - Aloha Beach - gerade mal 20 Minuten um die Ecke.

    Normalerweise hätte der Stellplatz 8 Euro gekostet, da wir aber gleich nach der Übernachtung weiter fuhren, winkte uns die nette Dame gleich weiter und somit hatten wir mal wieder eine schöne kostenlose Übernachtung hinter uns.

    Schnell hatten wir uns auf dem Campingplatz einen tollen großen Platz ausgesucht.
    Hier waren wir bereits schon zwei mal in einem Mobilhome und wußten daher, dass dieser 5 Sterne Campingplatz einiges zu bieten hat.

    Den Tag verbringen wir teilweise an dem schönen Strand, der direkt an den Campingplatz angrenzt - linke Seite Hundestrand - aber auch in der großen und schönen Poolanlage mit seinen großen Rutschen.

    Gerade für Kinder ist dies hier natürlich ein Paradies - Abends gibt es noch eine tolle Michael Jackson-Show und rundet somit diesen schönen Tag noch gut ab.
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  • Day83

    Freitag der 13.te ;-)

    September 13, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    "So ein Tag, so wunderschön wir heute ... 🎵🎶" ...wir verbringen den restlichen Tag in den kleinen malerischen und sehr romantischen Rocamadour 🏰💒 😍

    Warum "Freitag, der 13." als Unglückstag gilt, wissen viele überhaupt nicht. Zu Unrecht wird oft behauptet, seinen Ruf verdanke dieser Tag dem so genannten "Schwarzen Freitag" des Jahres 1929, dem großen Börsenkrach in den USA - denn dieser fiel gar nicht auf den 13. und begann eigentlich schon am Donnerstag. Die Medien trugen maßgeblich dazu bei, dass einige Menschen jeden Freitag, der auf den 13. eines Monats fällt, mit Vorsicht genießen.

    Also von den Medien lassen wir uns nicht beirren 😋😉 und genießen den Tag bis die Dämmerung hereinbricht und wir uns auf dem Weg zurück den Berg hinauf machen, da der süße kleine 👶 Oliver bald ins Bettchen muss.

    Interessant ist zudem, dass beispielsweise in Ländern wie Spanien oder Griechenland Dienstag der 13. als Unglückstag gilt, wobei in Italien Freitag, der 17. gefürchtet wird. Die Zahl 13 galt im Römischen Reich und im alten China sogar als heilig. Noch heute ist die 13 zum Beispiel in Mexiko eine Glückszahl. Es wäre also nützlicher, Tage, die auf einen Freitag, den 13. fallen, einfach als Glückstage anzusehen, hmmm? ☝️🤪😜

    Einige glauben, dass der Ruf der Zahl 13 mit dem Mondkalender zusammenhängt. Unser heutiger Kalender orientiert sich an der Sonnenzeit, daher umfasst er auch zwölf Monate. Vor der Einführung des Sonnenkalenders lebten die Menschen nach der Mondzeit. Laut des Mondkalenders, der zum Beispiel bei den Kelten üblich war, hatte das Jahr einen Monat mehr, also 13. Damals stand die Zahl 13 noch für Glück. Mit der Einführung des Sonnenkalenders änderte sich dies jedoch. 

    So 😄 .... nun aber zum wirklich faszinierenden Rocamadour:

    Eine heilige Stätte und Hochburg der Wallfahrt, das Dorf 🍀🌄🏰 Rocamadour, hängend an seinem Kalkfelsen, überragt majestätisch den Cañon des Alzou. Welch eine wilde und bewahrte Umgebung!

    Das Dorf Rocamadour ist übrigens die zweite meist besuchte Stätte in Frankreich nach dem Mont Saint-Michel. Nachdem hinauf kraxlen und schniefen 🙄 der 216 Treppen des „Grand Escalier“ die zum Vorplatz der Kirchen führen, entdeckt man als Pilger und Spaziergänger die sieben Heiligtümer von Rocamadour, unter ihnen die Kapelle Notre-Dame, die Basilika Saint-Sauveur und die Kapelle Saint-Michel. Unumgänglich, die Kapelle Notre-Dame oder Wunder-Kapelle, enthält eine Statue der Schwarzen Madonna aus dem XII. Jahrhundert.

    Dank des schönen Wetters haben wir auch tolle Licht-/Schattenspiele 🌟 hier.

    ☺️ "Ein schöner Tag!
    Die Welt steht still, ein schöner Tag,... 🎶🎵
    Komm, Welt, laß dich umarmen, welch ein Tag!
    Denn du bist da, und jeder Traum zum Greifen nah.
    Das Glück hat einen Namen, 🎵 welch ein Tag!" 👶
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  • Day23

    Un jour a Nimes

    September 25, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Heute haben wir den Tag in Nimes verbracht. Zugegeben es ist nicht ganz fair Nimes zu beschreiben, wenn man vorher in Avignon und Arles war, zwei Städten die vor Geschichte und historischen Denkmälern nur so protzen. Aber wir haben hier bei Elise und ihrem Mann übernachtet und ein wundervolles Abendessen inklusive ihrer Mutter und einer bunten Mischung aus Englisch, Französisch und pantomimischen Einlagen genossen :) Abgeschlossen haben wir unseren Aufenthalt mit einem Besuch bei "Trois Brasseurs" einer Brauerei-Kette die wir in Kanada lieben gelernt haben.... 🍺Read more

  • Day27

    Aurevoir France - Toulouse

    September 29, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Heute heißt es Abschied nehmen.... Nicht nur von Frankreich, sondern auch von Yarra und Bibou, den beiden Katzen mit denen wir die letzten drei Tage unsere Wohnung geteilt haben und die wir ziemlich ins Herz geschlossen haben ❤️🐱.
    Die letzten 17 Tage haben wir "wie Gott in Frankreich gelebt"! Wir haben wunderschöne Strände kennengelernt, uns vom Charme der süßen Städtchen der Provence verzaubern lassen, uralte römische Bauwerke bestaunt, viel Sport gemacht, unser marodes Französisch etwas aufpoliert, zu viel guten Wein getrunken und Baguette als Grundnahrungsmittel für uns entdeckt 🧀🥖🍷
    Der Süden Frankreichs war definitiv seinen Besuch wert und wir werden sicherlich eines Tages nochmal wiederkehren - Aktuell fühlt sich alles aber immer noch wie Urlaub an und es fällt schwer sich vorzustellen, dass noch drei weitere Jahre vor uns liegen. Schließlich befinden wir uns immer noch in Europa und die größte kulturelle Herausforderung besteht darin, ob wir unser Gegenüber mit zwei, drei oder vier Küssen begrüßen :P Ab und zu gelingt es uns aber sich vorzustellen, dass das Reisen die nächsten drei Jahre unser Leben ausmachen wird und es sich nicht um einen endenden Urlaub handelt und das macht so unglaublich glücklich ☀️😊!
    Jetzt geht es weiter nach Spanien, wo wir erstmal eine Woche einen Spanischkurs in Saragossa besuchen werden, um hoffentlich am Ende unseres Aufenthaltes mehr als ¡Dos cervezas por favor! rauszubekommen...
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Occitania, Occitanie, Linguadoca-Rossiglione-Midi-Pirenei

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