September 27th, 2019

27 September 

It’s lovely to sit down to write this, already 6.30pm - it’s been a busy day! Over 14,000 steps - well - guesstimate of my phone app!

We made the rash decision to go for a walk this morning, as Tintin had seen on Google maps that there was a lake nearby, so thought we might see pink flamingoes. However, we waited until 9.30am - hoping mossies would have got over their being up a dawn thing. 

After applying copious amounts of mossie deterrent, we followed a trail within the Paul Ricard area. One of the highlights was seeing a coypu - it’s like a rat on steroids! It’s not native to France, was introduced from South America in the 19th century for its fur. It slipped into the water with a big plop, but at least we both saw it, or possibly them. We did see lots of pink flamingoes, but they were too far away for my camera to zoom in, so we’ve relied once again on Tintin’s camera. Apparently they are very shy creatures. We also didn’t hang around and stand still for long. Walking alongside stagnant water, and having to push past lots of reed like bushes, and seeing so many flying things, mayflies, damselflies, dragonflies, ordinary flies and possibly midges and mossies - we didn’t wait to see what fancied us for breakfast! Either our repellent is good, or maybe we haven’t had time to notice any bites yet - but I think we escaped! 

I briefly thought about going for a horse ride - but an hour - just seeing what we’d already seen in foot seemed like not worth the effort - and the horses are constantly surrounded by flies. 

Me driving today - quite a few hours in the end! First drove for about an hour to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, to a free day park for mohos. As luck would have it, the market was in town, so walked in to have a look. 

I still don’t get why the markets are so popular, fruit and veg certainly seems expensive. We bought two nectarines, and one stalk of cherry tomatoes on the vine - and it was €5! There were tat stalls, everything for €1!, along with the usual clothes, leather belts, handbags, jewellery etc. Couldn’t quite bring ourselves to buy any sausage meat, or even bread due to the number of flies everywhere. Also, why is it that produce from the region seems more expensive than when it’s been exported and we buy it at home - thinking of the carmague rice!

Found an actual boulangerie, and bought a baguette for later!

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer has around 30km of fine sand beaches, but the main attraction is the 12th century church, that’s home to the statue of Sara-la-Kali, or black Sara. The crypt houses her alleged remains. Sara is the patron saint of the Roma people, and in May each year thousands of people come to pay their respects  and party hard! Both of us heathens failed to find anything really noteworthy! 

We wandered around the streets, loads of restaurants waiting for tourists - lots of places cooking paella, and offering sangria - are we in Spain?!

Gary, how do you fancy a Porsche in baby blue?!

There was a little Intermarché, so stopped off for some fruit, veg, milk and snacky treats!

Lovely different tasting baguette for lunch. Decided we needed to go for a swim, as the loose plan was to head inland after today. 

Once again, it felt cool to get in - but after a swim and coming back to the shore - it felt like bath water temperature. Sand was a grey colour, but the sea was clean, and not busy!

It was lovely that the town provided free moho parking (until 9pm tonight) - doesn’t often happen - so thank you to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. 

Me driving again, for about an hour to Arles (gateway of the Camargue region). En route, pulled off the road as we’d spotted some black bulls!

Managed to park in Arles using a park4night recommendation. Dave just about fitted into a gap, good job we were here today and not tomorrow, as parking would have been banned then. 

We’re really thankful for the park4night app, most of the towns we want to stop off and see don’t have any approved moho parking, and virtually all car parking spaces are ‘payant’. 

It’s a good job I have a Tintin around with his good sense of direction (and map reading skills!). Walked into the town, found the tourist information - and picked up a map and a few other leaflets. 

Arles (population 53,000) is popular because Van Gogh painted 200 odd works around the town, and because of it’s Roman remains. 

We didn’t really want to pay €9 each to see the arena and amphitheater - one - it was too hot - over 30° walking around in the heat - and two, we visited a brilliant amphitheater when we were in Verona, Italy. 

We could see a lot of the ruins of the Roman theatre without paying anyway. It was built at the behest of the unofficial first Roman Emperor, Augustus in the 1st century BC. It still stages summertime concerts and plays.

The amphitheater is still largely intact (having been preserved) it’s 136m long, 107m wide and 21m tall, it was built around AD 90, the oval shaped space would have held 21,000 spectators. 

Walked around to a view point - could just about see Mont Ventoux. My husband thinks we should ride up it (obviously missing Tour de France!) - what do you think? 1,617 m - would take about 2 hours. There are 3 different routes, with average gradients of between 4.4% and 7.4%. Would be a good test for our batteries - and of course our fitness levels! But that’s a few days away yet!

Popped into the church, and got scowled at by some women in there - who knows why!

After leaving Arles, stopped off at another Intermarché to top up with diesel. Whilst there, went in to buy some water and coke (which we couldn’t have carried when walking this morning). The supermarkets always seem to be busy, especially the checkouts, with long queues - and everyone waiting patiently...

Between co-pilot and us, managed to go the wrong way at a few turnings on the last hour drive of the day - but have eventually arrived at our free spot for the night. It’s at Vallabrègues and beautiful - right next to the Rhône, the sun is setting and turning the sky a lovely pinky colour. 

As I was still typing, Tintin cooked tea - good job I’d made the chilli con carne at home and frozen it - so just had to cook rice and reheat the chilli - but nice for me not to have to bother - he’s also done the dishes! Result 😊

Update - just had a woman say that fishermen will be launching their boats at 0500 and they will bang on our door to get out the way.  She told us to go to the free aire just up the road, trouble is, I’ve read a report from today in Park4Night that the place has Roma there and the site is awash with rubbish. So we’ve moved to an area just off the banks of the Rhône and hope we aren’t in the way in the morning, we’ll find out.

A few more photos from today -

Arles Hôtel de la Ville
Arles Hôtel de la Ville
The Rhône
The Rhône
We’re driving in the sea!
We’re driving in the sea!
People inside
People inside
Rice growing in the fields
Rice growing in the fields
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Martin and Kay Dumont from Guernsey, first time motorhomers and ready to travel. ‘Dave’ is our Mobilvetta K Yacht 85, purchased in 2017 and travelled all the way from Italy. After following Jason and Julie Buckley’s blog 'Ourtour' for years I just couldn’t get the name ‘Dave’ out of my head. So the Mobilvetta had to be another 'Dave’. More...

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