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To Gruissan and Narbonne

Home -> Europe -> France -> Travelogue France -> 17 & 18 June 2006

Saturday 17 June, to Gruissan and Narbonne

Our tent on rocky soilIn our haste to put up the tent in the rain quickly, we have chosen a wrong place: the earth is too hard (on the picture you can see that the peg barely got into the ground) and no electricity or water nearby . It is clammy and warm and we sweat a lot when we break down the tent to move to a completely different part of the campsite. By the way, it rained a lot during the night, but luckily not too hard, otherwise the tent would have been blown away.
Castle of Gruissan, Barbarossa towerThere is a lot of clouds today and it is stuffy. After a short beach walk we decide to explore the area, the beach isn't that nice. We drive first to the village of Gruissan, which is built around a rock on which the tower of Barberousse is located, the only remnant of a 13th century castle.
Canal in Narbonne Canal in NarbonneThen we drive to Narbonne, where in the 7th century BC a Gallic settlement was already located. In 118 BC, the first Roman colony was founded outside Italy. There is not much left from that time and when we cross a bridge over the Canal de la Robine with flowers we think it looks more like Amsterdam with its canals. But here palm trees grow and there not!
Until the 14th century Narbonne was a prosperous port city, but a major flood changed the course of the river Aude so that the port of Narbonne silted up and the coast moved away from the town. Now Narbonne is a flourishing tourist town and there are vast wine regions around it.
Town-hall of Narbonne Narbonne, gate between palacesIn the old city center the city hall (the new palace) stands next to the archbishop's palace (the old palace). They are separated by the Passage de l'Ancre on the photo on the right. Saturday is apparently a favourite day to marry, because one party after another arrives, disappears in the town hall and appears a little later in the passage again while a new procession arrives. From our place on the terrace we can all follow it nicely and in an hour we see at least 4 wedding parties pass by.
Artists, Narbonne Square before the town-hallIn addition, a lot of music is made in the city and a few street theater bands pass by. it looks a bit like a mini-Barcelona, and it is as lively and fun as it is, even if only in a small way. A striking detail is that the companies do not beg for money, they just seem to enjoy to make their music.
Gargoyle Palace, NarbonneBehind the two palaces is an old cathedral and a monastery. The cathedral was never completed because a part of the protective city walls would have to be demolished and the government in the Middle Ages would not have that.
Bull used in paradesWe also come across these dolls and they also remind us of the parades with giant dolls we had with La Merce in Barcelona. When we are a bit later at a cafeteria along the canal that runs through the city, we see more theater groups. Narbonne is definitely a nice city to spend a day.
NarbonneIn the meantime it has become very hot, but it remains cloudy and therefore very stuffy. We dive for another hour into a cool internet café in order to read our mail and at the end of the afternoon we go back to the campsite on the coast. The entire coastal area is called Narbon-Plage, but also called the Rose Coast (Côte des Roses), which is also the name of our campsite. This used to be a swamp area and it was full of mosquitoes but in the 60s plans were made to make it an attractive plcae for tourists and now there are dozens of holiday villages and campsites along the beach. And (almost) no more mosquito to see.

Sunday 18 June 2006, a day on the beach, Narbonne-Plage

Our tentIt rained a little bit last night, but the air is much brighter than yesterday. A nice day to go to the beach, because that is what we actually came to do here. We are taking it a bit quieter this vacation than usual (we also become a bit older ...) because we have been very busy lately and what could be better than relaxing for a few days at the beach? Not too long, of course, because our curiousity to see things in the neighborhood will prevail again.
Bay at Narbonne-plage Bay at Narbonne-plageAt the campsite we first have to walk along a small inland sea and on the advice of a fellow camper (75% Dutch!) we will not search for a place there, but walk a few hundred meters to the real sea where it is not really crowded. There are many French people who enjoy their day off, but the beach is very long and the crowd is quite scattered. The seawater is delicious, absolutely not cold and we are nicely baked in the sun.
There is also a lot of wind and then you do not realize that it is so hot. Teije burns his ankles (they hurt for a few more days!), but after a few hours we know we have had enough rest and sunshine we go back to the campsite, have a bite at the restaurant (where of course a large television screen has been set up again for the World Cup) and then relax at the tent. We have quite a few books with us, but on resting days like today we go very quickly through our pile!


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