It’s good to have a reason to go and investigate pastures new. I have an e-friend (i.e. met over the Internet), a fellow dragonfly enthusiast, who has a holiday home down at the Eastern end of the Pyrenees. His latest trip to France coincided with ours and here was the perfect excuse for us to explore pastures new. We’ve previously looked at the western end of the Pyrenees, Basque country, and we’ve looked in the central area around several famous Tour de France mountain climbs, but never the eastern end towards Perpignan. So, with an invitation to a BBQ, after four nights at Loupian, near the Bassin de Thau, we headed further south down the main autoroute, for trucks, towards Spain. We hung a quick right before hitting the border to zoom a safe distance inland – safe, that is, from any danger of kiss-me-quick campsites.
I’d been keen to avoid another busy ACSI campsite but, when looking at the books, one campsite sounded too much like us to avoid: rural, good for walks, quiet. Regrettably, it was flying the ACSI banner but that’s where we headed. We’ve ended up at about 300m/1000ft, on what would merely be classed as a hill round here, amidst another swarm of Dutch campers in the foothills of the eastern Pyrenees. The campsite isn’t actually full but it’s certainly busy.
It’s also very windy. The Tramontane is blowing, largely from west to east along the mountains. It’s hot, almost too hot for some, hitting 35°C down in the valley, but the constantly strong wind with occasional violent gusts, makes sitting outside Guillaume a little less than completely comfortable, We do have a view down to the plain below, though. We are reliant upon a conifer tree on our pitch for shade because we’ve been unable to erect our sun canopy which would swiftly have been blown into the Mediterranean 30kms east had we foolishly tried to pitch it.
Shunning sun-worshipper territory to the east, we made an exploratory trip a little way west up the valley of the river Tech, passing through Céret. We’ve been told that Céret has a wonderful though touristy market, which we chose to avoid ‘cos we can get exactly that at our next stop near Mirepoix. Like many places in Europe on gorges, Céret also has yet another example of a Pont du Diable [Devil’s bridge].
Further up the valley from Céret, we passed through Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda, and on to Arles-sur-Tech, finally avoiding the classic tourist trap of Gorges de la Fou. Returning to Amélie-les-Bains, we found a pleasant picnic spot beside the river Tech. The most fascinating thing about the picnic spot was the inventively engineered bridge across the Tech, required to gain access. The bridge appears to have been constructed by laying a series of concrete pipes, through which the river could flow, and covering the tubes with more concrete. The dire warning signs were enough to put off anyone of a faint heart. The bridge felt just about wide enough for a car, but someone had clearly worn the extreme edges a little.