Wednesday 19th October 2016, Ambre-Les-Espagnolettes
This morning we were up and on our way to Bedarieux by 9am with a bag-load of laundry. We had been invited for morning coffee - and the use of the washing machine - by friends Christine and Mostyn who have helped us out of difficulties on several occasions over the years while we have been travelling in the area. Driving through the winding gorges of the Espinous with the morning sunlight reflecting from the rugged massif of the Caroux, we commented that it was rather more impressive than turning out from our side road in the morning rush hour into the main roads into central Exeter! Down in the valleys and on the lower slopes of the vineyards the leaves were turning rapidly from green to orange and scarlet. Even in the short time we have been here autumn has gained the upper hand. It is still warm, hot even, but summer is finally on the wane.
Our washing clean and hung out on the line to dry Mostyn drove us up to Villemagne l’Argentière where there was a new restaurant they were eager to try. It turned out to be very pleasant indeed and compared with most places we have discovered, excellent value with wine and three courses for less than fourteen euros.
Villemagne l’Argentière is so called because it was thought that a mint was there in the 13th century producing coins from silver mines in the surrounding hills. There is certainly a very finely decorated building in the centre of the little town which could well have been the mint and the town has a far more prosperous air than other mediaeval towns we have seen in the Languedoc, an area that abounds in such towns!
Nearby, leading in to the town is a steeply arched packhorse bridge across the shallow, fast-flowing river Mare. This river is also crossed a short distance upstream by another ancient footbridge known as the Devil’s Bridge. We clambered down from this to the river below where small rocks and stones washed down during floods and mountain storms have formed a wide grey beach used by residents during the summer months. The setting is magnificent.
There are a few roads that I hesitate to take Modestine along. Mostyn drives a neat little Renault Clio and has lived here long enough to have become confident driving it along broken mountain roads that are pretty well exactly the same width as the axle span of his car. It was a brilliant drive back down into Herepian, winding through tiny hamlets of ancient houses and castle remains.
It has been a very enjoyable day as our stay in the Languedoc gradually draws to a close and we start to plan our route back to Caen, seeking out campsites that will still be open along the way. Thank you both for yet another lovely day and carry on enjoying your lives down here in the Midi. A la prochaine.
Back at the house in Ambre we went up to the roof terrace to watch the sunset over the mountains. Caroux dominated with its long mass of pale bare rock while above it the sky turned a rosy pink and the clouds an inky purple. Golden streaks crossed the sky where planes passed high above, the sunlight reflecting from their vapour trails. Within a few seconds the light faded and the colours evaporated leaving the dark mass of the Caroux silhouetted against a sky of pale grey.