We’ve left the unsettled weather of Fanjeaux (just as it is due to brighten up, of course) and headed for Marseillan. Actually, we’re staying on the Camping Municipal at the charming little village of Loupian just a few kilometres northeast. Apart from this being one of our favourite haunts in southern France, being an area that supplies wonderful white wines like Picpoul de Pinet and Viognier, we had a specific reason for coming here. We are renewing our acquaintance with some friends.
I thought we were being adventurous buying a holiday home in Spain. What Gwenn and Ian have done leaves me, well, not exactly speechless but certainly feeling like a wimp. Gwenn and Ian have a very pleasant holiday home in the middle of Marseillan. The catch is that they live in Australia. No, not Austria, Australia. A holiday home 12,000 miles away is a commitment to flying for 24 hours in both directions on a regular/frequent basis. All I can say is that they must be built of stronger stuff than me.
We actually met Gwenn and Ian only last October on their home turf when we were visiting Francine’s brother in Australia, before embarking on our November campervan tour of New Zealand. That’s when we learned of their holiday home in one of our favourite areas and made a loose arrangement to meet them, their visit tying in quite nicely with ours. We began at their house, where the roof terrace gave us good views of whirling Swifts (Apus apus) being harried by a Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).
Lubrication having been started, we finished the evening at an unpretentious seafood shack on the etang called Chez Titin. Here we enjoyed a surfeit of shellfish. Francine and I began by sharing half a dozen of their raw oysters, followed by another little appetizer of a dozen moules gratinées d’Edith, which were excellent and our favourite. We finished ourselves off, completely (!), with a huge steaming pot of brasucade de moules au feu de bois de Phillipe. This last seemed to be a development of the more classic moules marinière but cooked over a wood fire, the juices being collected as they cook, then tarted up, possibly with turmeric and who knows what else, before being added back to the finished mussels. It was interesting to try but I still don’t think you can beat a classic moules marinière.
Somehow we managed to waddle our way back from the restaurant.