Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

The Camargue bulls
 We woke up to stormy weather, and while it hadn’t actually started raining yet we knew it would. We’d been hoping the 60% chance of rain was wrong, but it looked like we would just get to see a few things before heading home. After checking out of the hotel and packing the salt-covered car, we headed up around the bays and marshes that make up the reserve and back down to the sea again to reach the salt pans with their industrial town of Salin-de-Giraud. The town was very different from other towns, but then the salt companies originally made it for the workers. Brick (brick! I haven’t seen any since we got here!) row houses with random gingerbread trim were an odd sight to our eyes.

We were the only people in the parking lot overlooking the pans and a huge salt heap, which had all sorts of equipment, including a bulldozer driving around on top of the salt. Not the most appetizing thing to think about… The wind was absolutely howling. We could hardly walk, and I found it hard to breath when facing into the wind!

Not sure why the salt off to the right is pink?
 We drove down to the very edge of the sea, but the wind was blowing so hard that we didn’t stay long. Some kite surfers drove up as we were leaving and later we saw their kite from a distance, but I don’t know how they kept from being blown to Africa!

Just a little ways back from the shore we made our only real stop of the day at the Domaine de la Palissade, an area outside the sea walls and dikes that is allowed to flood and behave as the Camargue would naturally. The rain had started, but we decide to walk the shortest one-mile loop anyway. We saw some of the birds we saw yesterday, and one of the black kites that we saw in an enclosure (there is a photo of it in yesterday’s blog).

The Rhone river
We stopped back at the entrance to look at the horses tied up and waiting probably in vain for a rider all day. The rain was getting harder, so we decided to get back in the car and drive to a scenic spot where we could eat lunch in the car. There was a road marked red on our map that ran out along the dykes and made a loop back up to the paved road we wanted to be on to leave, so we headed through the town to see if we were even allowed to drive on those roads or not (red according to the map legend was restricted). We had made it almost to the fork where you could chose the paved road up or the red loop when the paved road we were on deteriorated into a dirt road with huge dips with puddles in the bottom. Mom didn’t want to go on, but we would have to back track a long ways to get around it and we could see the signs for the road split ahead. Alan said he thought it was fine so we continued on. The red road at the split was in considerably better shape than the bit of road we had just been on, so we decided to take it. It was a lonely, rainy, windswept scene of rocks and marsh and sea all around us. Our map wasn’t really detailed enough to track all the twists and turns, so at one split we finally stopped for lunch. We hadn’t really seen any other cars before, but as we were eating a couple drove by in each direction. Mom said that the road was getting too rough and made us turn around, so we went back to the paved road.

Along the road - someone spent a lot of time
putting rocks on posts!
Last night on our way to supper Alan and I had spotted a sign for an exhibition of nature inspired furniture (the poster showed a really neat chair made from the stump/trunk of a tree) in the Chateau d’Avignon, which was just a little ways back down the road to Ste-Maries-de-la-Mer. Since it was really raining now and we decided to go see the show before heading home. We pulled up to the gate only to see another car parked there, talking to a security guard. A sign in the gate said “Fermé” (closed) but we had checked the hours and knew it should be open. So Mom hopped out to ask what was happening, and got the very odd reply that the chateau was closed due to the wind. What?! We want to go inside a museum but can’t because it is windy outside?? It didn’t make any sense. Oh well.

We headed home, a little saddened by our unsuccessful day. Going to another abbey that I do want to see before we leave was tossed around as we seemed to leaving the rain behind as we got closer to home. But the clouds didn’t look like they’d hold back for long, and sure enough as we were carrying our bags up from the car the rain really started coming down again.

The fireplace at home had been tempting us for some time, so in honor of a cold, rainy, gray day we had a lovely fire to warm us and cheer us up for the rest of the evening.


  1. Alan makes such a good fireplace model. He should go into business!

  2. Ha ha that's hilarious. I'll have to tell him you've come up with a job option for him :)