Tag Archives: living in France

Wednesday Vine Report #10 Languedoc Vinewatch June 5th. Mademoiselle Merlot looking lush.

Walking through the vineyards has been a real pleasure this week. It’s always a pleasure, but this week, the wind has warmed. I’ve been out walking without a long sleeve fleece or sweater. Carrying a bottle of water instead!

Mademoiselle Merlot is looking fantastic. Soon, we’ll have to leave the house earlier to complete our walk, before it grows too hot.

Merlot vine

at last the Languedoc sunshine is feeling warmer

The growers have clipped off the extraneous growth from the tops and bottoms of the vines. There has been some wind damage and I’ve noticed a yellowing of the leaves on some varieties. They tell me this is because of the prolonged wet weather. Perhaps this is also the reason we’ve got similar yellowing on some of our garden plants at home. Himself is investigating.

We’ve walked further and further in our quest to bring you more interesting sights . . . and sounds.

First, the sights.

vineyard track

where does this track lead?

A new adventure awaits in the trees. Another vista. Another photo opportunity? Cut through the gap in the trees, drop into a small valley, climb the other side and hey presto! You’re back in the south of France.

vineyard huts

shelters in the vineyards

We’ve seen growers out with their notepads, drawing up forecasts. Maybe the harvest is going to be late this year.

Further along one of our walks this week, we came across this:

Roses in the vines

sacrificial roses

garrigue heath land

wild flowers in the garrigue

Roses act as an early warning system for pests and diseases. We often see bushes like this planted at the ends of rows of vines. Here’s something else we often see. Hares are everywhere, especially as you climb toward the garrigue – the heathland above the vineyards. It’s virgin land in the garrigue and, after this cool spring, it’s full of colour from great swathes of wild flowers.

hare in the vines

the one that got away . . .

Drop into the hidden valleys where the tree canopy forms a roof above your head and the atmosphere changes. It’s warm and still, but over head there’s birdsong you wouldn’t hear closer to the village.

Here’s a link to the sounds of the vineyards. Red kites are circling overhead, but these little songsters are well-hidden and singing their hearts out. Lovely!

Climb higher and there are more surprises. In a clearing, look who we found.

Camargue mare and foal

white Camargue horses

Camargue foals are dark. They don’t develop their famous colour until they’re four or five years old. This beautiful mare came to say hello and her baby followed.

Camargue mare

mother . . .

What a wonderful place to grow up! Maybe one day this little chap will be the star attraction at one of the many riding schools we have hereabouts.

Camargue foal

and baby

We have three equestrian centres close to our village. Even in the heat of the summer, there’s plenty of business for them.

It remains to be seen whether we shall have a late vendange this year.

I mentioned wild flowers. Just look at these.

grasshopper

if he’d jumped . . .aarrrrgh!

Flowers and insects everywhere. I haven’t photographed the vetches and campions of my childhood days when I kept a wild flower book during my primary schooldays. There are huge drifts of flowers here that I don’t recognise. Great swathes of pink, purple and blue, almost as far as you can see.                                                                 Black honey bees are gigantic. We call them Wellington Bombers. They look so heavy I don’t know how they can get airborne. They can be quite aggressive too – best not get agitated – let them go about their business.                                            After our long walk, it’s back home for a hearty breakfast.

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black bee
DSCN0526See you next week for the next Vinewatch report.

Wednesday Vine Report #8

Vine watching has made me notice things more. By paying particular attention to what’s happening in the vines, it’s as if my eyes have been opened to much more besides. I’m seeing flowers and wildlife I never noticed before. The mountains around us change with the light. Sometimes they completely disappear into a blue haze. At other times, when they are backlit, they seem close enough to touch. The rest of me is becoming more attuned to my surroundings, too. I can feel shifts in the weather; sense changes in pressure. I can tell with my eyes closed when there’s a storm on the way. And, hey, I must be benefitting from all that extra walking I’m doing up hill and down dale.

The weather is peculiar this year. Although we’ve had days warm enough to wear flip flops and a few evenings warm enough to eat outdoors and do a spot of GaryWatching, spring has stayed generally much cooler than usual. Also, we’ve had more rain. As a result, weeds and grasses are growing to monster proportions. There’s more work in the vineyards.

vineyard weeding

clearing between the vines

Weeds love the weather we’ve been having: cooler, damper. They’re not welcome. They have to go. Out come the tractors again, towing their little rotavators. In the picture above, note the air-condtioning unit on top of the cab. When this grower’s grandfather tended the vines, he wouldn’t have had such a luxury on his horse and cart!

cultivator

getting ready for the next row

Drivers have to swing out into the lanes to make their turn for the next row. Where there is no lane to use, the turn is too sharp and the pattern of work shifts to tilling alternate rows. In places where it’s narrower still, they work every third row, backwards and forwards through the vineyard till it’s all done.

Then you get a clear picture of those familiar stripes running through the land.

vineyard rows

working in the vines

Our Mademoiselle Merlot is now quite a lady. Here she is in close up, showing healthy babies on the way.

Merlot grapes

sunshine in the Merlot vineyard

High winds this last week have caused some damage to the vines on the outer rows where the stalks have been snapped clean away from the branch. But our baby is looking fine and has come through the gales in good condition.

Rainstorms always come to this part of France in early spring at the transition between cool weather and the powerful heat of summer, but this year it’s happened later.

There is STILL snow on top of Canigou and until it’s gone we can expect more cool winds. However, the vineyards look good to me.

Merlot vineyard

Merlot vineyard looking toward the coast.

The hill in the far distance is Mont St. Loup which overlooks Cap d’Agde, a popular holiday resort with French families. Every water sport you can think of is there. In July and August Cap d’Agde is as packed with people as our vineyards are full of grapes. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the picture.

As for the Chardonnay vineyard which, you remember is across the lane. Here’s this morning’s photo.

Chardonnay vines

Chardonnay reaching for the sky

Chardonnay vines

Chardonnay vines a few weeks ago

I was standing in my usual spot to take this picture. It’s only a matter of weeks since I said that in a short time you wouldn’t be able to see through the foliage to the earth between the rows. The contrast is remarkable.

I’ll keep watching to see what the growers do about all that whippy growth. My feeling is most of it will be cut back.

vineyards

another view of rolling vineyards

More vines further along this morning’s vineyard walk. There are so many lanes criss-crossing through the vineyards, you can take a different walk every day and catch different views of the countryside. Sometimes, something unexpected happens, like the day I saw the perfect circle drawn in the sky by a fighter jet.

This morning’s surprise was a solitary figure hand-hoeing between the vines. My camera is always ready so I asked him for permission to take his picture. When he learned I was going to put him on the internet, he was happy to oblige.

beans and grapes

pulling up beans

Between each vine, this wine grower is using the space to grow broad beans. I hadn’t seen this before. Whether there is mutual benefit to beans and grapes I couldn’t say. My French isn’t good enough to understand everything he was saying and his French sounded Spanish. Many of the growers in our departement of Herault came from Spain to find work and settled here. They speak French, but with Spanish intonation. It’s lovely, but difficult for me to follow.

He insisted we took some beans. They’ll be fantastic lightly steamed and with a knob of butter on top.

broad beans

they don’t come much fresher than this . . .

I hope you’re enjoying this weekly catch up with what’s happening in the vineyards near my home. I’m certainly enjoying putting it together. I’d like to say thank you for visiting my website. Do please leave a comment if you wish and don’t forget to sign up for news of new posts.

Cheers!

Celia

P.S. Due to computer problems, I’m posting this week’s report early, while my machine is up and running. It keeps turning itself off. The poor old girl is due for retirement.

Wednesday Vine Report #6

I don’t want to miss out anything important from my Vine Reports. Sometimes, there are things happening in the vines that I’d miss if I waited for Wednesday. That’s why on Sunday morning when I heard engines and activity at first light I was up out of bed and rushing out the door camera in hand. This is what was going on:

water pump by the cemetery wall

old-fashioned water pump at the top of the hill

Wine growers spray the crops with a copper sulphate mixture to prevent powdery mildew, a fungus that can affect grapes and decimate harvests. At the brow of the hill, there’s an old-fashioned water pump. Due to our location close to mountains and river gorges, our aquifers can be quite high after heavy spring rain. Water races toward the villages in the foothills. Drainage ditches fill with fresh water, rich in minerals.

The wine growers add water to their tanks of copper sulphate to make the right mixture. It’s like what we common or garden growers would call Bordeaux mixture. Professor of botany Pierre Millardet of the university of Bordeaux discovered in the late 1800s that a mixture of copper sulphate and lime had fungicidal properties.

Chardonnay treatment

early on a wind-free Sunday morning

spraying the grapes

turning for the next row

 

grape spraying

cute little tractor

 

 

 

 

I like these cute little tractors. They remind me of some of the picture books I used to read with my children. Working machines all had sweet little faces and going out to work physically hard looked such jolly good fun children wanted to do it when they grew up.

 

tommytractor

a favourite book

 

 

 

I can still remember some of the words of favourite Ladybird books. Weren’t they wonderful illustrations too? Oh, shouldn’t all children have those to look at when they’re little? And aren’t the originals just the best, or am I just feeling my age?

Who could ever forget . . .Little Tommy, Ginger’s neighbour called for Ginger every day. Took him out in wind and sunshine, out across the fields to play . . .

Ginger's adventures

a favourite Ladybird book

I’d better stop. I’m filling up!

Back to the vineyards. The tractors might be cutesy looking things but they work hard, out in the wind and sunshine, out across the fields to . . . work the vines, clear the rows, protect the grapes from powdery mildew.

Here’s how the Merlot vineyard looked on Sunday morning. I was waiting for this morning for the up to date close-up.

Merlot vines

Mesdames Merlot 7am Sunday 5th May

The sun was in exactly the wrong place for this early morning photograph of our vineyard of Merlot grapes. Our Mademoiselle is in there, front row, doing very nicely.

Spraying takes place every 6 to 10 days, depending on the temperature and humidity etc., but according to one wine grower, you can cease spraying once the grapes are set. I suppose they all have their preferred methods based on what their fathers and grandfathers did before. They probably still argue over which method is best.

Wine growers are always first to gather at the Bar in the village centre. You can see them having their early morning coffee and pastis before they return to work. Their faces are lined by the sun; their hands gnarled by the wind. They look like their own vines.

Merlot vine

Wednesday 8th May

So here she is, our Mademoiselle Merlot. She’s looking perky this morning, wouldn’t you say? The sun is already casting shadows and I’m out here in the vineyards by myself. Soon there’ll be dog walkers and a few serious runners. As summer progresses, they’ll be out earlier before it gets too hot.

And now, Mr de Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.

Merlot flower spikes

I’m ready for my close-up!

Aww! Baby grapes! Oh-la-la, Mademoiselle. You are soooo beautiful. Hold it right there. Don’t flutter a leaf. Let me drink you in.

Not yet, Celia. Don’t get carried away. This is the Vine Report not a cheesy chapter in second rate erotica. Pull yourself together. What’s happening in the Chardonnay vineyard?

Chardonnay vines

Chardonnay week six

Merlot vines

looking toward the coast

A fine sight. I can almost hear corks popping.

Waiting for Gary. Who is he?

My sister called him Gary. We go in for a bit of alliteration where we’re from. He could be a Georgina for all we know, but Gary presented as a good Cinsault-fuelled suggestion one evening last summer and the name stuck as fast as Gary’s suckered feet. (Clue #1)

geckofeet

what Gary’s foot looks like magnified

The way Gary and his ilk are able to hang on to vertical surfaces, not to mention feel comfortable hanging on completely upside down has interested scientists for years. Only recently have they invented a new glue that mimics the properties of our Gary’s feet. Apparently this new glue is so strong you’ll be able to stick a 42 inch screen television straight onto your living room wall.

Last year, Gary became part of our late night entertainment. We’d watch, in awe, as he lassoed his supper. We’d wonder how in hell he could move that fast and jump out from a perpendicular position without falling off the wall. (Clue #2)

If you followed the previous link, you’ll know who Gary is now if you hadn’t worked it out already. You didn’t really need those clues, did you? He’s the type of his species that like hanging around (Ha, Ha) people and houses. Gary made his summer home behind one of our French window shutters. We don’t know where he goes in winter. We had a very strong feeling he would survive those snows we had in January. He’d got big. Very big. He must be reaching his full size. Maybe this summer could be his last.

So, there I was after dinner last night wondering when he’d show up again this year.

The night was warm. Ten pm and still 25 degrees. The signs were good. I saw bats zipping about beyond our garden gate; a Scops owl was hooping in the distance. I call them submarine birds: their call reminds me of WW2 movies set in a sub with that tooting noise going on in the background. Here, have a listen. You’ll see what I mean.

It was time. I got out the special equipment.

coffee and brandy

special equipment for waiting for Gary

I put it in the waiting for Gary area, directly below his favourite roof space where the outdoor lights attract fat moths for his main course and a selection of juicy six-legged appetizers for hors d’oeuvres.

My camera was charged and ready.

I sipped at my special equipment. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement. I looked up at the lights. What was that dark shape?

moth-catching light

Gary’s fave hunting spot

There was movement  all right. From both ends of the terrace. Two small ones, but when I moved they disappeared behind the roof beams. I waited. Gary is not going to like bandits on his patch, I thought. I ran out of special equipment. Took the offered refill from himself who was watching television.

Gary’s not coming, said himself. Not tonight. Why don’t you come indoors and watch the news?

I went indoors to watch the news. I sat. Himself was staring out the window at the light on the wall opposite the one in the photograph.

WTF? Is THAT Gary? Can’t be. It’s GODZILLA!

Too late. My camera isn’t out of its case before he’s disappeared. Probably sorting out the two invaders. Next time I’ll wait longer and double up on the special equipment.

 

 

Wednesday Vine Report #4

sky circle

smart arse pilot made this perfect circle

On the day of vine report number 4, there was one hell of a bang. I’m just getting organized to walk up to visit our chosen vine for the next new photograph, when the almighty bang nearly knocked me off my feet. The house shook. Shutters rattled. My ears popped. Then I heard the distant scream of an aircraft engine. He was high. Very high. He’d come tearing in from the north, broken the sound barrier thingy and now he was playing games. I watched him draw this perfect circle in the sky above us. And I already had my camera to hand.

That was not Ryanair. That was no commercial flight. I don’t know what the pilot was practising for, but he/she had an admirer down here. I bet the boss knew nothing about it. Or, maybe he/she was the boss.

merlot vine

our Merlot has two leaves open!

Mademoiselle Merlot is enjoying the warmth. Here she is today. Two leaves open near the bole and the buds on the leader ready to pop. You’ll notice the ground looks different from previous photos where the land between the rows was filled with weed growth.

Here’s why:

 

tractor in the vines

special narrow tractors work the rows

The tractors are especially narrow so they can fit between the vines. They work the rows alternately to make for an easier turning circle at the end of each row. In some vineyards, the weeds are left to grow to maturity. This will depend on the type of grape and the balance of minerals in the soil. They actually want the weeds to take up some of the goodness from the soil if it’s too rich for the type of vine. You’ll see this particularly on vineyards specializing in organic wines where they use no chemicals at all.

tractor in the vines

preparing to turn at the end of a row

tractor in the vines

working on through the vineyard

 

 

 

 

 

Growth is just beginning steadily in our chosen field of Merlot. You remember that the field of Chardonnay just across the lane was romping on in the April sunshine. Take a look at it now.

Chardonnay in April

vigorous growth on the Chardonnay

grape flower spikes

these flower spikes will develop into bunches of grapes

The flower spikes (a bit blurred – I got too close) are clearly visible. These will develop into bunches of tiny grapes very soon.

Then they’ll soak up the sun and the odd shower till they’re fat and juicy. And himself and I will be filling the ice trays. Oh, yes!

The walk back along the vineyard lanes is a pleasure. The edges (you can’t really call them hedgerows) are full of spring colour.

 

vineyard lane

poppies already in the vineyard lane

wild garlic

white flowers of wild garlic

Wild garlic looks like it’s hiding in the grass. The leaves are good for cooking rather than the bulbs, but I won’t be disturbing them. I like looking at them just as they are.

Great drifts of blue flowers hang from mauve stalks.

wild flowers

huge drifts of blue flowers on mauve stalks

There are lots of other wild flowers I haven’t identified yet, but that’s okay. It’s another pleasant job for me to do.

Mine’s a Merlot! Wednesday Vine Report#3

Well, of course she would have to be a Merlot, wouldn’t she? My all-time favourite red. Sensational perfume. Smooth, satisfying taste. Hits all the right notes. A symphony in a glass. Great legs. She’s a late developer. Bless.

Merlot vine

mine’s a Merlot!

Here’s what she looks like today.

Look above and slightly left of the central bole and there you’ll find the first leaf ready to unfurl. April 17th. You heard it here first. You could be looking at the next gold medallion winner.

Our wines from this region often rate very highly at the French nationals. And it’s not just the reds. The Viognier from Domaine La Baume just down the road from here came in at 13.5% and took gold last year. That was one belter of a white wine. Well, it would be at that strength, n’est-ce pas? Click on the link and take a look at their website (in English). Learn why they harvest at night. Watch the video for a brief introduction to their domaine. We always take all our visitors there for wine-tasting before you buy. Nobody has ever been disappointed.

The history of the Viognier grape is interesting. It was almost extinct in the 1960s. It’s prone to powdery mildew and might not produce high yields. Picking at exactly the right time is essential to achieve the best perfumes and strength. Here in Languedoc, Viognier tastes different from that produced further north. The vines like our heat retaining soil and dry summer. Here’s the current state of play with the whites in the next field to our Merlot.

Chardonnay vines

Chardonnay romping in April sunshine

Look more closely and you can see the tiny clusters of flowers developing.

grape flowers

tiny clusters of flowers

Grape flowers are so small you wonder how they can possibly develop into luscious fruits.

They are so inconspicuous you have to really look hard to find them.

But there they are, hiding underneath the leaves, quietly getting on with the business of growing beauties like these.

 

Viogniergrapes

Viognier grapes on the vine

Mmmm. I can taste it already. Nicely chilled. Make-your-mouth-water-juicy-fruity.

That reminds me. It’s time himself dragged out the barbecue and gave it a good clean. In fact, the sun is warm enough for sun loungers. Better make that my task while himself is occupied. When he gets back from his bike ride. (Trying to shift some weight)

Himself

himself

 

Cycling through the lanes is a great way to see the countryside. From the top of the hill there’s a sea view. Just. And the Pyrenees with Pic du Canigou the highest peak visible from here.

village cemetery

main gates

victim of WW2

never forgotten . . .

After taking this morning’s photo of my Merlot, I wandered through the gates into the cemetery. Birds were singing. There was a comfortable calm about the place. It’s always well-tended. Villagers visit their family mausoleums regularly to leave fresh flowers and messages. Everything is clean swept. Some of the mausoleums are very grand.

village cemetery

well-tended burial places

 

 

Outside the cemetery, Languedoc is bursting into life.Under cobalt skies, the land explodes into spring colour.

wild flowers

wild flowers

 

 

Between the vineyards, some fields are left uncultivated.

uncultivated fields

spring fields

 

 

 

 

 

And, looking over village houses, cemetery and vineyards, our unusual water tower.

water tower

painted water tower

Famous with Ryanair pilots. They often point it out to passengers about to land in Beziers.

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Market singers

oranges and singers

singers at the French market

Our local French market offers good prices on staple foods. One euro per kilo of juicy oranges. Don’t mention the suck word, though. We’ll start thinking about sexy food again.

So, we turn up to buy our fresh greens and crusty bread as usual and there’s music on the air. What could be nicer on a sunny April morning? Standing outside the town hall there’s a man with an old-fashioned, hand operated barrel organ. His tunes are jolly, toe-tapping melodies. Locals are joining in. Somebody has handed out plastic folders with the words and everybody seems to know the songs. Here’s a snatch.

http://youtu.be/wNwz9ZGdy7s

wood pigeon

wood pigeon – was he listening or waiting for it to stop?

The bird on the wire was not mightily impressed. Maybe he’d been stood up. Maybe his lady love had wandered off to inspect what some other guy was offering. Or maybe he was just waiting for the music to stop so he could begin his calling again.

We listened to the singers for a while, then took our purchases home and had another coffee. We bought some small spring onions. Would you like to see?

Such a shame we couldn’t find any big ones.

French market spring onions

we couldn’t find any large ones?

As I said already – the joys of living in France!

 

The Wednesday Vine Report #2

Last Wednesday we looked for progress in the vineyard behind our house and you’ll recall there was little to report. We chose one particular vine to photograph and share with you whatever we discovered.

It’s a red. Our neighbour told us. He walks that way all the time and says these are definitely reds growing there. But, we still don’t know which variety it is. As soon as I get to the bottom of this small mystery, I shall give it a name. You know the way women name their cars? That sort of thing.

In my time, I’ve driven Vera VW, Benny Benz, Harrison Ford (that was a white Granada and I loved it to pieces), Brian Orion and Veronica Vectra, to name but a few. Now, we have Pierre Peugeot. But I digress.

One week has passed. Come with me on a walk along the lanes.

chateau and vines

vines near the old chateau

The chateau below the village is near the river. It’s now a convalescent home and is the inspiration for one of my short stories. The weather has turned today. Those cold blasts from the mountains have stopped.There’s still a breeze, but it feels much warmer. It’s time to swap woollens for cottons.

vine

our chosen vine week one

vine

week two

There’s no visible difference in our vine. Maybe she’ll be happier when she gets a name. Marilyn Merlot? Sharon Shiraz?

But have a look at what’s happening in the vineyard next to our chosen vine. They are on the move and they’re sprouting fast.

vines

fresh green leaves on white grape vines

Whites always develop fastest, apparently. Sometimes, the white harvest is weeks before they bring in the reds, depending on the weather. When the summer is long and dry, the whites are in danger of shrivelling into sultanas while they’re still on the plant.

white grapes

April sunshine bringing on the whites

Soon these support wires will be completely hidden and you’ll hardly be able to see between the rows.Partridge nest there and hide under vine leaves so red kites, circling above, can’t see them.

Let’s continue our walk. Follow the road beside the chateau as it turns toward the village. Here’s the other side. It’s a beautiful building.

Chateua domaine

the convalescent home becomes Chateau de Quatre Tours in my novel Trobairitz

mairie

our village town hall

When these trees are in full leaf, I wouldn’t be able to take this picture; the facade of the building would be obscured. Keep walking, up through the village centre and back toward home. Pass the Mairie (town hall) on the way up the hill, back toward the vines at the top of the village and out into open country beyond.

We love living here. We love tasting the fruits of the vines each year and finding new favourites.

Next week on the Wednesday Vine Report, I’ll show you more of the village. And more of the vines. Signing off from Languedoc.

montblanc

aerial view of our village

The Wednesday Vine Report

Himself and I like to keep an eye on what’s happening in the vines. In an earlier post, I posted a photo of next year’s grapes under inches of snow in January, an unusual event here in Languedoc.

We’re surrounded by vineyards. This is a working village. There are twenty growers supplying the co-operative and three self-sufficient Domaines. Needless to say, ALL the produce is first rate. We know. We try them all. Every year. Without fail.

vines

vines surround the village

It’s warming up nicely now. There’s real strength in the sun. We’ve had plenty of rain, too, so everything in the garden is growing fast. Himself and I always watch for that first glimmer of green in the vines. It hasn’t happened yet. It will soon.

vine

waiting for the first sign of life

It happens before your eyes. One minute there’s nothing to see; the vine looks almost dead. It’s just bare wood, all gnarled and knobbly. Blink, and the thing’s spreading along the wires.

I don’t actually know what variety this particular vineyard grows. I will make it my business to find out. This is the vine we have chosen to watch carefully and report upon its progress. It’s third vine in from the end of the first row opposite the first cypress tree after the cemetery gates. Yes, really! (I do enjoy a complex narrative arc)

For wine lovers like himself and I, progress of the vines is vital information. They don’t call it vit – iculture for nothing. We may even give this vine a name. Suggestions are welcome. Please click the Twitter button at the bottom of the page to re-tweet this post.

Easter motorway in France. Where is everybody?

France motorway

where is everybody?

This is Easter Monday. This is a motorway. This is a Bank Holiday. In France. Where is everybody?

Not on this road, that’s for sure. Himself was driving on the way home from his brother’s place in Poitou Charente and loving every minute of it. It’s a great feeling having the road to yourself, he says. By the time we’d travelled further south, back towards home, there was more traffic, but mostly heading north.

We played the what’s the percentage of foreign cars in France? game. Himself counts French makes as we overtake or are overtaken and I count everything else. It always goes something like this: Peugeot, Peugeot, Renault, VW, Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, VW, BMW, Peugeot, Peugeot, Mercedes, Citroen, Renault, Peugeot, Nissan. Anyway, it works out at well over 75% of cars on French roads are French made. Not a rigorous survey in a scientific way, I know, but what can’t speak can’t lie, as mother used to say.

Travelling is a joy on roads like these. France is a big country compared with the UK, so you always feel as if you have more space and this photo speaks for itself. I can’t imagine any major road back in dear old Blighty looking like this on Easter Monday.

Our route home

We like to come the slightly longer way back just to take in the scenery – and to have another chance to see the Millau viaduct. We love it.

Millau viaduct France

lovin’ this road home!

When we cross, we know we’re nearly home.