The day we arrived at Llauro in the eastern Pyrenees was, we thought, pretty darn windy. That, it seems, was just the Tramontane flexing it muscles and warming up. For the last two days, the Tramontane has been up to speed and it’s been damn windy, buffeting Guillaume on his corner steadies.
It’s still hot but sitting outside in the constant gale has become so tiresome that we’ve tended to retreat inside Guillaume for some shelter. The knock-on difficulty is that we’d like a lot of fresh air inside Guillaume but can’t really get enough because we can’t open any windows or the roof light on props for fear of something being ripped off by the wind. Opening the door gets us frequent rattles and a caravan full of windblown dust.
There’s second issue with our choice of campsite at Llauro. Getting anywhere, and returning from anywhere, involves a 15-minute drive each way along one of two roads both consisting of a seemingly never ending series of hairpin bends. Being a Sunday, the seemingly never ending series of hairpin bends we chose today was full of a seemingly never ending series of French cyclists often rounding said seemingly never ending series of hairpin bends on the wrong side of the road, or, at least, in the centre of it. A car driver really does not want to hit a cyclist in France because, whatever the cyclist may have done, they cannot be deemed to be at fault; the car driver is automatically at fault, always. It’s a ludicrous law that some would have established in the UK.
We managed to negotiate both the hairpin bends, without colliding with too many of the maniacal cyclists, to get down into the valley for a morning Odo hunting trip with our friend, after which we bit the bullet and visited Argelès-sur-Mer for a beer or two and a spot of tapas for lunch. I say “bit the bullet” because we feared Argelès-sur-Mer would be just beach territory, definitely not us. However, our pal new a pleasant harbour location, Port-Argelès, which was perfectly fine, part of the port being home to some of the area’s delightful traditional fishing boats.
The presence of tapas highlights one of my main education points here. This neck of the woods, albeit France, is classed as Catalan, sharing much in common with the north-eastern part of Spain. Here, the Catalan flag takes precedence over the French tricolour.
So, after three days of being buffeted by the Tramontane and of negotiating 30-minutes worth of hairpins to get off, then back onto our hilltop campsite, the sheep are calling – we’re heading for Fanjeaux and our favourite sheep farm tomorrow. We can’t wait to get out of this bloody wind. One hears about how the Mistral, blowing down the Rhone valley, can drive a man insane but, trust me, this Tramontane has been the worst wind I’ve experienced. I’m sure it’s quite capable of causing similar insanity. The Dutch couple next door appear to have had enough, too; we spotted them thumbing through their (accursed) ACSI campsite book.
Having said all that, we have enjoyed visiting our friend and sharing a little dragonfly hunting trip with him. It’s been good to see his holiday home but we must confess to wondering quite why they chose this location.
I suspect we won’t be back but, if we are, we certainly wouldn’t stay on this hill top again. A valley location would be much more convenient and a little more sheltered should the Tramontane blow up again.