All in all it’s been a good week. We have continued our unpacking, and although the order of books in the bookcases definitely be improved, largely speaking there is now only one room that needs to be sorted out. The good progress is just as well because it’s only four weeks so before we head back up to Courmettes.
It was also a week of minor linguistic achievements. There was a successful appointment at the dentist, a lock tightened on the car by the Skoda garage, a bike went in to have its gears adjusted, and we had various other purchases and conversations in French and no one laughed. (Well, not publicly.)
Chris has sent off a flurry of emails, mostly to Cyprus trying to line up people to meet on his trip there in April, and has begun to get some really promising links.
Anyway after a busy week we decided that we needed a good day out on Saturday. One reason we bought a house at Taradeau was its central location, not just for A Rocha work but for everything. In particular both mountains and coast are within relatively easy reach. In fact there are two obvious circular routes from where we are: one to the north into the mountains and gorges, and the other south beyond the rugged and spectacular Maures Massif to the coast. We all have mental maps of places – sometimes bearing very little resemblance to published maps – and we wanted to fill in the blank that existed for us about most of this stretch of coastline.
So we left Taradeau (the blue dot at the top of the map) and headed south-west on the very quiet A57 autoroute into the sprawling conurbation at the edge of Toulon and then swung eastwards beyond Hyères. Gradually the industries and superstores fade away and you are out onto spectacular coastal scenery with steep hills, sheer cliffs, lots of woodland, some fun roads and some gorgeous bays. (Mind you we suspect that both roads and beaches will be very crowded in summer.)
The sea was very blue, the sun shone and the temperature edged up to the point where, although you still needed your jacket, it was very pleasant. Just beyond Cavalaire-sur-Mer we had a long walk out along the wooded rocky coast and a picnic in the sun.
We headed on to the edges of St Tropez via a beach that gave us spectacular views to the north and north-east of snowclad mountains. Then to Sainte-Maxime and back over the rugged terrain of the Maures. A fine trip.
There is a definite sense that spring is in the air. Around Taradeau lots of places are doing heavy discounts on stoves and fires, and gardening equipment is starting to appear in supermarkets. Along the much warmer coast you could see people doing preparatory work for the summer on boats and villas and the yellow mimosa was beginning to come out. Mind you, winter is not yet over: we have snow showers scheduled for Taradeau on Tuesday.