On Tuesday night we had more rain, very gusty winds and it was cold so we decided to depart Spain a day earlier than planned. We left around midday after saying our farewells to everyone, (Mark and Penny had left earlier that morning) and we took a leisurely drive over the border into France avoiding the toll roads. There was still quite a lot of snow on the mountains in the Pyrenees that looked quite fresh, it was cold enough.
We stayed overnight on an Aire at a small town called Montagnac, just north of Beziers. The Aire was fine and even though it was situated next to a dual carriageway just outside the town, there was little road noise to disturb us.
On Wednesday we joined the A75 the superb scenic toll free motorway that takes you all the way to Clermont Ferrand. We left the Motorway at Millau to go into the town as we had planned to spend a couple of hours in Millau.
We changed our minds at the last minute and took the scenic route along the Gorges de Tarn to Sainte Enimie. The road is fabulous, extremely scenic and in places you have to pass through arches carved out from the mountainside as the road winds along the River Tarn.
We stopped just outside Sainte Enimie, set up the BBQ and had a lovely hot lunch to save us cooking in the evening. Whilst we were stopped, another English couple pulled up behind in their car as they had noticed Tony looking at some birds of prey in the sky above us. They informed us that the birds were ‘Short Toed Eagles’ not found in the UK and not being ‘twitchers’ ourselves, (only curtain twitchers) we believed them. As I was taking a photo they both landed on a rock and started mating (the eagles, not the friendly couple) just like the pigeons do in our garden at home! They also informed us that we might see some vultures as they were very prevalent in the area, but we didn’t, although we may have done from a distance. The only vultures we can be sure we saw were in the restaurants in Sainte Enimie.
Sainte Enimie is a beautiful little town with a cobbled quarter full of restored stone cottages.
We continued our journey from Sainte Enimie following the 996 towards Mende and turning off to take the road to Chanac, then picking up the 88 taking us back to Junction 39 on the A75. It was a rather time consuming detour but one we really enjoyed. The views are spectacular, particularly as you climb out of Sainte Enimie and look back down to the town. The roads at this time of year made the driving a pleasure as they were practically empty but come the summer, I think it would be a totally different story.
We stopped overnight at an Aire, alongside the river in the town of St Amand Montrond on the D2144. In the morning we looked out the window and Tony saw what he thought was a huge water rat swimming along causing a bow wave or maybe it could have been a water vole. Do water voles have long tails like rats because this one did?
We left St Amand Montrond and continued north to Chartres, stopping on our way to do some last minute shopping at the Hypermarket and are now booked in at Camping des bords de l’Eure in Chartres for the next two nights. We will meet up with Liz tomorrow for a tour of Chartres and a taste of the local cuisine.