There’s a road near here, heading south from Limoux, that we’ve been singularly remiss about investigating on all of our many visits. We set out to correct our oversight.
The first target en route after Limoux, which was smothered by a very large flea market, was Rennes-les-Bains, an attractive sounding spa town. On our approach, we drove past a fair number of people playing about in the river which flows through town from nearby springs. Being a Sunday, I thought it might be busy and that parking might be difficult but no, we got parked with no difficulty.
Heading straight for the river on our wander about town, our expectations of a well shod spa town soon evaporated. Whilst some of the river front properties, a restaurant, for example, looked well decorated and cared for, a good number of the river front was decidedly run down or, in some cases, just unfinished. Here’s a couple of example shots looking both ways along the river from a bridge. One way doesn’t look too bad, perhaps almost inviting given the colours and sunshine, but just look at the unfinished masonry off the monstrosity in the left of the second shot. Why on earth ..?
We’d have thought so much more could have been made of the place. Frankly, it looked seedy. One possible explanation occurred to us in the form of
dropouts those seeking an alternative lifestyle, a number of which were wandering around in the baggy Kasbah trousers that they seem to favour. Perhaps when such folks move in, markets are affected and investment becomes pointless. Or maybe I’m just cynical.
A beer would have been a pleasant refreshment in a better environment but we decided against it and moved on in search of Arques and some nearby red earth that we’d seen mention of. We found it. Now, here’s a thing. I favour brown-tinted sunglasses as opposed to those nasty smoke-grey-tinted jobs. The former seem to enhance colours whereas grey flattens them and makes the world look a generally duller place. There is a potential problem with the former, however. We rounded a corner to be confronting by gobsmackingly red earth. Pull over and remove sunglasses to take a photo. Wait a minute, where did the gobsmacking red go? Sunglasses back on. Ah, there it is! The brown-tint has a similar effect to putting an 81C/D/E – you pick the strength – warm up filter on your camera. In these days of digital post-processing, such filters are almost a thing of the past, forcing you to do it Photoshop/Lightroom/your chosen digital darkroom. Anyway, here’s a shot from Francine, somewhat post-processed.
We did find a small village called Serres with an appealing river front complete with shady picnic tables for lunch. We skipped the beer, though there was a bar across the road, mainly because we thought it might be more interested in serving Sunday lunch as opposed to just a couple of drinks. As a bonus for yours truly, the river was supporting a decent population of dragonflies, including a couple that we’d not yet seen on this trip, most impressive being the Large Pincertail/Blue-eyed Hooktail (Onychogomphus uncatus), with its fearsome looking claspers. Quite how those help in a passionate embrace is beyond me. 😉