Amelia and I took a short holiday last week-end, and discovered another beautiful corner of France. When I say a corner, I really mean it as it is the southern corner of the Languedoc-Roussillon, bordering the Catalan region of Spain. The weather was poor, but fairly warm, however, we found the Pyrénées-Orientales absolutely beautiful, and at this time of the year the mountains were full of wonderful wild flowers.
We stayed at the beautiful coastal town of Collioure.
On Sunday there was a picturesque street market selling original Catalan goodies.
After a short drive south we approached the town of Cerbère only four kilometres from Spain. The walk along the rocky coast let us see the wild flowers, some quite different from those in our own region.
The hills were truly alive with wild flowers.
The clumps of flowers were quite stunning against the rocky coast line.
The little flowers were very delicate
The area is also called the Rocky Coast and I must admit that looking way down towards the sea it was difficult to get a sense of the size of the rocks, like little islands
I tried to catch a glimpse of the cormorant, spreading its wings..
On our return we could look back at Collioure.
The guidebook we bought from the tourist office proved to be somewhat lacking in clear description, nor were the mountain paths very clearly marked. Nevertheless we had a few wonderful walks in the foothills of the pyrenees. Rocks have always fascinated me; their forms, their colours; their size, all seem to me as interesting as the flowers growing beside them. The contrast often between the rocks, the wild rosemary, the lavender and other wild flowers was impressive.
At the edge of the paths I could often find trees growing out of almost no soil.
This was certainly the area for the Quercus suber, commonly known as the cork oak.
Close up I was almost feeling sorry for the trees with their barks removed. I hoped they did not feel the cold!
I loved seeing the wild almond tree so high up the mountain..
The natural rockery gardens here and there
and the vivid colour of the wild – I don’t know which type of – euphorbia was quite cheerful.
But seeing wild cistus with its crinkled petals was something else.
The mist was beginning to come down rapidly and I was not quite sure if we were actually on the right path. The guidebook referred to various passes like the Col de la Serre, and the Col de Mollo, but in the mountains there are no panels naming the rocky corners and one pass looks like another. Perhaps we were not as well prepared as we should have been and so our three hours walk had taken over five hours.
No, we were definitely on the wrong path, as the only way to cross the river was to take our shoes and socks off and roll up our jeans
Looking up, we could see the farmer bringing the rest of his herd down the mountain.
We were lucky to cross the rushing water as half hour later, on the bank of the river we saw a house. I am sure, however, that if that boulder had rolled a few feet further along the house would no longer have been there. We had reached the little village of Rimbau with its few scattered houses letting us ask for directions.
We got back to our hotel safely, but I did remind Amelia along the way that alternate accommodation could have been found for us in the shepherd’s hut, if all else had failed – she did not look impressed.