Well, life has been incredibly hectic and stressful around here lately, and I haven't had time to finish posting about our lovely French holiday! This is the longest vacation we've taken since our honeymoon.
Brian celebrated his 28th birthday in France. Our friends kindly offered to babysit, so Brian and I went off on an adventure all by ourselves. It was really a perfect day, definitely my favorite of the trip, and it was really cool that it just so happened to be on Brian's birthday.
We decided to head for the Cote Vermeille, which was our original destination the day before when the Pyrenees lured us off track. :) The Cote Vermeille is the section of coastline where the Pyrenees hit the Mediterranean Sea. The coastal road we drove on was amazing. We decided to stop in the old fishing village of Collioure which was the inspiration for many artists, including Henry Matisse. There is a strong artistic presence there to this day with many small galleries and artisans working in the village.
This is yet another one of those border towns with heavy fortifications. The Knights Templar built the castle.
We seriously toyed with the idea of renting one of these kayaks, but it was only about 9am and the water was coooold!
Since it was so early in the day, the town was still peaceful and quiet. These cafes are right on the edge of beach.
This old chapel is on a promontory jutting out into the harbor.
This is the view from the back of the chapel.
The harbor, with the Pyrenees in the background.
After exploring Collioure and relaxing in the completely wonderful Mediterranean atmosphere of it all, we continued down the road. Brian decided that it would be fun to have a birthday lunch in Spain.
The hillsides of this region are covered with vineyards, which is not at unusual for southern France but the steepness of the hills makes these grapes especially hard to cultivate. They are called Banyuls grapes and are used to make Banyuls wine which is a desert wine. We stopped at a vineyard to have a look around and we bought two very special bottles of birthday wine to be saved for a special occasion.
This is where we stopped for lunch. It was just a beautiful day and such a beautiful setting. We could see everybody on the beach while we ate our meal.
After our meal we headed for the sand and had a quick dip (in water that was still cold!) before heading back to France.
Once back in Laurens, we rendezvoused with our friends at the river that all the locals swim in. We were so glad to see Iain again! Everyone had taken wonderful care of him and he was quite happy.
Iain is terrified of water, though he is slowly warming up to the idea. He thinks it is interesting, but it scares him to death. I did get him to go in a few inches voluntarily by stacking up some of the large rocks from the river bottom. He liked making rock towers, clacking the stones together, and also enjoyed the satisfactory plunk they made when he threw them in.