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The South … The Mediterranean Sea … (Photo above: Sérignan Plage)
Last year, end of December my better half and me started a long trip into the South i. e. Southern France and Northern Spain. We had shut down our house (a rented spot) and packed everything in a big container to chill in a storage facility (of course after having cleaned up the spot where we lived for more than 20 years – try to imagine what had piled up … when having space and a big basement). Our car was packed with luggage, lots of bags and boxes & our internet/social media equipment – all we imagined we’d need during the next months ahead of us during our trip.
Our first stop was Dijon. It was a stopover of 2 days on our way southbound.
It was rather cold and somewhat rainy, but we enjoyed this lovely town with its Old Town quarter filled with timbered houses and the adjacent quarters filled with houses with elaborate decors from a later era. We walked the streets and alleyways for some hours – because of the weather (and maybe the season!) not so many people populated the streets.
In the evening we were rather tired and a cold seemed to have a grip on us … but a test confirmed Covid. What now? We wore masks, stocked up on cold medicine and stayed in our room … Next morning we didn’t feel so brilliant, but nevertheless we resumed our trip.
Next stopover was Montpellier.
Although it is far more in the South the weather wasn’t better – it was also cold and rainy … so for New Year’s Eve we stayed in our hotel room having cold cuts and cheese.
The next day turned out to be much better: the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Our Covid symptoms had almost vanished when we started in our day … We walked for some time – not too long – and had a nice strong coffee sitting outside in the warming sun on Place de la Comédie (photo above).
(So … Montpellier … we came back some months later for a day trip to explore the city.)
Finally late afternoon on New Year’ Day we arrived at Carcassonne, where we stayed for about 4 months.
We had a flat just outside of La Cité, the medieval city. Often we walked around La Cité’s fortifications to end up for a coffee or a glass of wine inside the defensive walls or we walked into La Bastide, the more modern part of Carcassonne (with impressive buildings from a later era!). We loved doing some shopping and afterwards relaxing on Place Carnot (see photo above).
During our stay in Carcassonne we made lots of excursions to nearby cities and villages, to churches and abbeys, into the mountains, to the sea … Well, the Mediterranean Sea was rather far away (more than 1 hour driving!). However, Toulouse was only 40 min by train and to Narbonne we made it in 30 min. You may read about our trips in quite a lot of posts I created then.
In Carcassonne when staying for months we got to know some restaurants – in general all were fine. Our favourite spot: La Marquière, 13 rue Saint Jean, in La Cité.
During our stay in Carcassonne we had to do a quick trip back to Germany … and this time we made stopovers in Lyon.
Of course we only stayed for 3 days, but it’s fine for walking the region between Le Rhône and La Saône (before they merge!) – this fabulous quarter filled with exquisite buildings from the last centuries (see photo above: Place des Terreaux and Hôtel de Ville). We also strolled along the alleyways in Old Town Lyon and made it to the cathedral on top of the hill.
While we had some cold days and even some snow flakes in Carcassonne in January and February the weather suddenly improved and it became spring. In May we moved on to Sérignan, somewhat more in the East and near to the Mediterranean Sea.
Sérignan is a quiet village sprawling around Place du 14 Juillet (see photo above) where we always found a place to watch the world go round with a coffee or glass of wine. We also made some trips to near cities and villages etc. – it was almost summer now. So the beaches of Sérignan and Valras-Plage and … became centers of attraction for us, especially because at this time of the year they were almost empty and lovely quiet.
Last, but not least: our favourite restaurant – Le Patio d’Oc, 65 Allées de la République.
After almost half a year in France we went southbound into Spain. For a month we stayed in Fenals aka Playa de Fenals (most western part of Lloret de Mar i. e. far away from the party zone).
In July we experienced really hot days … so our enthusiasm for exploring the region was rather low. A highlight was of course Girona where we went twice (always starting early in the morning and returning about noon …). In short: we loved the beach, the gardens and our corporate pool.
Not far from our flat was a nice restaurant: Solivins, Avinguda de Santa Clotilde, 22, becoming a preferred spot for breakfast i. e. extended breakfast on their terrace in the morning, and dinner early or late in the evening.
The last 2 months we lived in Castelldefels which is the best spot when looking for an elongated, sandy beach, a quiet spot for relaxing, as well as trying to explore Barcelona which is only about 30 min away with the regional train.
Castelldefels is a lively city with a busy center, however, also offering pedestrian zones filled with outdoor sitting spaces from adjacent cafés, bistros, restaurants … (see photo above). During hot summer days all is full in the early morning and later in the night. In between – let’s define from about late morning to late afternoon – it’s empty. Also many shops and service centers simply close for 3 or 4 or up to 5 hours …
Our main target for exploration was Barcelona – of course. Sitges, Tarragona … were also on our agenda. Due to the hot days in August we made our visits mainly in September.
In October we returned … and stayed for 3 days in Avignon on our way back.
The vast area in front of the Palais de Papes and the cathedral (see photo above) is filled with people and outdoor living. We enjoyed exploring the walled city – and the extended relics of the reign of the popes. The famous Pont d’Avignon … I’d imagined it somewhat larger, but I learnt that the centuries had done their work diminishing the bridge step by step.
Now we are back in Germany … near Bonn …
A new home is waiting for us in January – and we are looking forward to unpack our container …
A last photo from Barcelona – the Columbus Monument!