French Riviera (cont).

The French Riviera (cont)
3rd. August 2009

We leave Monaco this morning with many happy memories.
We motor sail further west about fifteen n.miles to Antibes. This is a charming old walled town and we are sorry to find the Picasso exhibition just closing when we arrive. We plan to come back but it is closed tomorrow, being a Monday.
We are warned how expensive it is here and find it to be true. Just having a drink each is €10- (one beer and one mineral water). We decide dinner on the boat is an excellent idea.
We anchor offshore as the forecast is for a calm night.
The forecast is for strong winds from the S.W., 6 to 7 kts., gusting up to 8. We are protected from all winds here except the east, so we stay here for a quiet day. It is a good opportunity to catch up with odd jobs. We enjoy a long swim, and a walk along the coast road.

Sail school

There is a very enthusiastic sail school here and we are keen to watch the tiny yachts being towed along one after the other, with their colourful sails. It is marvelous the see the children are learning the principles of sailing so young. They are lucky. The winds from the S.E. are gusting up to 20kts.( and much later to 30 kts. )so they are having excellent experience out there.
We have just decided to go to bed, when the wind comes around to the east, blowing up to force 4 then force 5.(20 kts.) Ross announces we have to move the yacht. I am very unenthusiastic until I go out to the cock pit and see how the boat has swung around with the onshore wind and we are very close to the shore and some nasty rocks, so there is no choice. The waves rolling in are 3 m. and I feel much happier when Ross has his life jacket on. It is a very rolly and rough trip out of the bay, but it only takes 1.5 hours to re-anchor in a protected bay off St. Juan les Pins.

4th. August 2009
We have a lovely long sleep until 6.30am and are woken by a slight swell coming in as a result of last night´s winds. There are many boats in this cove this morning. They obviously came in for protection too. It´s not very relaxing lying in bed as even this slight 2ft. swell is enough to set off knockings and bangings on the boat. We decide to up anchor and move on.
This morning we have a lovely 5 hour track, with both sails up, some of the way without the engine, averaging 6kts. along the coast, passing Cannes and St. Tropez to moor at Cavalarie. The marina is full except for one berth but for a much larger boat, and so is very expensive, so with a forecast of variable winds of only 1-3 kts. we are happy to moor on a buoy outside the marina. We are meeting up with Amps and Geoff this afternoon. They are having a family holiday staying at a beautiful property near the small village of La Croix Valmer just west of St.Tropez.
We have the most lovely and fun few days here. The old and renovated farmhouse, full of charm, is set on 35 acres. The surrounding gardens and pool setting are very attractive and the rest of the land is natural bushland, including cork trees and gums, rising high up behind the property. The views from up the top over the coastline and sea below are stunning.
We all have a day out sailing . It is great fun with 10 of us on board, and George who is two and a half years old. He is the model child, especially as it is an eight hour day. Imogen is a lovely mother. Also on board are Jono Mackie and Richard Robson who are staying with Mick, and we happen to know both their parents in Melbourne.

Richard, Jono and Mick

Amps and Geoff

It is the perfect day out on the water today, with many other boats about of all different shapes and sizes. We drop the anchor at Baie de Briande. We plan to swim off the boat here and have lunch. Unfortunatey there are some unpleasant looking jellyfish in the water and Jono is stung by one. It is obviously very painful and flares up into welts quickly. We treat it with a vinegar dousing, icing and then an anti-inflammatory cream. Our pilot book describes them as Medusa jelly fish. We move the yacht to another anchorage but they are still about. We spend time here over lunch and some people go ashore. Others have a quick dip when the water appears to be clear of the jelly fish. We are all disappointed about the jellyfish episode because we think that one of the advantages of being in the Mediterranean is being free of these creatures.

The icecream boat!

We then motor sail round Cape Camarat to the Baie de Pampellone where we can see the famous four kms stretch of Pampellone beach. We then track out to sea for some way so we can sail back with one tack to Cavalarie. The wooded coast line here is lovely.

Geoff concentrating at the wheel

Tonight we play a game of "in the bag", organized by Tamsen and Rori. This is challenging and produces lots of laughter. Our hosts family team won!
This morning Amps and Tamsen take Ross and me into St. Tropaz. We enjoy this major tourist place with is bustling people and amazing super yachts along the seafront; the quiet and shaded walk up to the citadel; the stunning views down over the town, boats and across the sea; the charming, narrow back streets with their many galleries; and people watching over a cup of coffee. Some of the clothes are so outlandish, and some are obviously very expensive and tasteful. The fish market here is very impressive.

View from the Citadel

Walk along the waterfront at StTropaz

A back street in St Tropaz

Pampellone Beach

We all meet on the beach in time for a swim (unfortunately there are a few Medusa stingers here too) before our lunch booking at the Beach Club for three o´clock. The first sitting is booked out early, so this is the second sitting. Is is worth waiting for. The cuisine is delicious and the ambience couldn´t be better. The colours in the decor just seem to blend in with the sea.There are mist sprays floating over us for a cooling effect.

Lunch at the Beach Club

Geoff walks with us along the beach to Club 55, the famous beach club here, just so we can see what it is like. This is supposed to be the most famous and where the high society are most likely to be seen. It is very attractive but the restaurant is actually back from the beach and set down lower so you are not able to see the beach and the sea, so we far preferred where we were. All along Pampellone beach there are boats anchored, from the smallest yachts and run-abouts to the the largest and most expensive super-yachts. The crews come in by dinghy for lunch and swim off the boats.

The bar at Club 55

We call in to see Mick, Richard and Jono at Nicky´s Bar. Apparently there are eight of these establishments in the world. It has to be seen to be believed. You may enter for free, but we are told the mark up on the drinks is unbelievable. Imogen takes us to where the boys are settled. They arrived early to find a perfect spot to view the action.
We have never seen such decadence. People are literally pouring bottles of the best and most expensive champagne over each other´s heads.! A very tanned girl with very few clothes on is dancing to loud music around the pool. There are obviously people on drugs here, and many have had large amounts to drink. Amazingly everyone just seems to be part of the scene and no-one appears out of control. They all seem to be absorbed in the mood here and enjoying a real "time out". The bar closes at 9pm. which is probably a very smart idea.
This evening we are invited to dinner with the Hones to their friend´s holiday home here. It is a renovated railway station, with lovely surrounds and a view of the small village up on the hill, Gasson.

7th. August 2009
We leave Amps and Geoff this morning after a wonderful view days with their family. They have given us such a wonderful time, with so much fun, and a much better knowledge of this area than we could ever have found on our own.

Amps and Geoff´s holiday house

Saying good-bye

Geoff takes us back to the dinghy and comes out to have a cup of coffee with us. It is a shame he isn´t able to have another sail, but he has other commitments.

We do some provisioning and visit an internet cafe before heading out to Iles d´ Hyeres. These are written up in the book "Fifty places to sail before you die" and have been recommended by several people.
We anchor at Port -Man , recommended as a safe anchorage, on Ile de . Late afternoon we venture ashore to walk along the a coastal walk but soon realize we are in a Naturalistic area, which we are not very comfortable about. This anchorage is lovely, especially when the softly golden full moon creeps up over the hill behind us later tonight.

8th. August 2009
We have a swim in these beautiful waters, and both do some sketches and painting. At lunch time we go the short distance across to Ile de Cros. This is an idylic place to come in a yacht, with its magnificent blue/turquoise waters, and a National Park to walk around the coast track with all its stunning views. It doesn´t seem to matter there are many other boats here as it is so quiet and peaceful.
We are fortunate our friends from Rome coming on board tomorrow have a car so plan to come to Cavalaire to meet us. Otherwise we would have had to take the boat into St. Tropaz which woud be more difficult. The transport from St Tropaz to here is difficut.
We come back from the islands late afternoon and are fortunate to get a berth here. The weather is so calm, and it is the weekend so boats are more likely to stay out overnight. We really need to wash down the boat (we haven´t been in a marina for sometime) and need to provision, fill the gas tanks and the dinghy fuel tank.

Hyeres Iles

8th. August 2009
This morning we track the short distance across to Ile de Port Cros to the Port de Man. We enjoy swimming in the sensation water here, and a lovely shaded walk.

View from walking track

In the evening we track back to Port Cavalarie to prepare for our friends arriving tomorrow.
The internet cafe near the marina has the best connection we have had so far so I stay until 1am. to get everything up to date. It will be some time before we find another one. The atmosphere here is very vibrant as most of the people are watching a football match on the big screen. I feel quite safe walking back to the boat by myself.

9th. August, 2009
This morning we are up early to provision the boat, buy dinghy fuel and try to fill the gas tanks. We are unable to do the latter and hope we have enough gas to last to the next port.
Our friends from Rome, the Albertinis, who we met in Italy last season, arrive at 10am. It is a lovely experience to have Piergiorgio, Mara and their eighteen year old daughter, Sylvia with us. We so enjoy hearing Italian being spoken, and are learning some too. After a wonderful Italian dinner Mara cooked for us at their home last September we are hoping we are able to present some delicious meals - we plan just to serve simple, local fresh produce menus!
We track over to Ile de Port-Cros again. It is a perfect wind for a sail with both sails up. Unfortunately the mainsail cover is drawn in under the spindle and jams it so we are unable to use this sail, so we just use the headsail.

Sorting out the mainsail

Mara learning the knots!

We anchor at Port- Man again, a most beautiful place. It looks like a marina here, there are so many boats anchored in very close proximity to one another. There is nothing here except crystal clear water to swim in, and lovely walks.

Port Man

Ross and Piergiorgio bring the mainsail down and once the cover is sorted, we re-furl it.

10th. August, 2009
Today is a walking day. We are hoping to get to Porquerolles, but there is no certainty of a berth there, and because we need protection from S.W. and west winds , we stay where we are. There isn´t this protection at Porquerolles. The Albertinis enjoy bread so we bake some( there is no corner shop here!)
We set off early to walk across the island through the wooded tracks, which are well shaded, to Port Cros. It is lively here with ferries arriving from the mainland bringing many people to this very small town. They set off to the various beaches for the day.
We walk back along the coastal scenic track, which in many parts reminds us of Wilson´s Promintory with the stunning views across the sparkling sea to the cliff faces. We all enjoy a relaxed day in such a lovely place.

Along the walking track

11th.August, 2009
This is a sailing day. The forecast is excellent to track around to Porquerolles, on the north of the island of Porquerolles. There is just enough wind to sail back towards Hyeres on the coast, and we are pleased the mainsail is operating again. This is the area where they hold famous races and is popular for leisure cruising.
The Porquerolles marina is full so with a calm forecast we anchor just outside.

The icecream "boat"

We take the dinghy ashore and walk to Plage d´Argent. We have never seen such a crowded beach so chose not to swim here but go back to Pte.Prime where the dinghy is tied up. It is a very pretty small isthmus beach with few people here.
There is a lot of swell at the anchorage with all the ferries coming and going but it makes for an easy dinghy ride into the town for a walk and dinner. Once the last ferry has left it is a very calm anchorage. Also there are fewer people about.

12th. August 2009
Today is a cycling day.
We are overwhelmed by the number of people who arrive by the ferries from the mainland for a day trip. There are also hundreds of boats in the marina and anchored outside off the beaches.
We set off early to ride to Plage Notre Dame, which is not as crowded as the beach yesterday. The water is crystal clear and beautiful to swim in.
We ride across the island through vineyards to Calanque de l ´Ousteau. There is no shade here so we have our picnic lunch nearby under trees, some of which are eucalypts. Some of this ride reminds us of Rottnest island off the Western Australian coast, as you unexpectedly come to very scenic coastal views.

Riding across the island

End of bike ride

Porquerolles is very busy this afternoon so we re-stock the provisions, have a refreshing granita, and return to Impulsive - our little haven away from the crowds.
We have a relaxed and quiet sail as we track around to Langoustier Baie on the west coast. We only average 3 kts. but as Piergiorgio is such a keen sailor the skipper decides this is O.K. (Ross usually starts the engine if it is less than 5 kts.) It is just glorious out here with boats with their sails up everywhere.

Mara and Sylvia soaking up the sun
Mara and Sylvia cook us a delicious pasta dish tonight, and we have great fun in the galley.

Mara´s pasta dinner

Tonight there is quite a swell in this delightful little bay so Ross puts out a "flopper stopper", hanging it from the spinnaker pole off the beam. This is quite effective, especially as Sylvia suffers from a swell.
The sunset is exquisite tonight, throwing pink and soft orange tinges over the nearby fort and surrounding the water.

13th. August 2009
Mara is particularly fit so we have been swimming and walking a lot which suits us, especially in these idyllic conditions.

Flying the spinnaker

Today we have a spinnaker run from Langoustier cove across to Rade d ´Hyeres to Preque Ile de Giens, on the mainland. This is a tiny cove, idyllic for lunch on Impulsive, and swimming.
The distances to all these places are relatively short so it is easy to find appropriate protection for the night. With the given forecast, which is very calm, Ross decides we should return to Porquerolles to anchor for the night.

Tonight we make sushi and eat with chopsticks. This is great fun as the Albertinis have only had sushi once, as a take away meal in Rome. It was very expensive and they have never used chopsticks.
We need the flopper stopper again tonight. They are a wonderful asset even though we don´t use them often.

14th. August 2009

Checking the weather

This morning we have a lovely sail with both sails up , averaging 6 kts., to anchor off Port Capte, on the mainland. We go ashore looking for flamingos which inhabit the large salt lake here.
We have much advice where to look for them and walk a long way in search of these elusive birds. We have just about given up when Pierogeorgio spots a large flock of them in flight. What a magnificent sight.
After lunch we take the Albertinis into Hyeres port. There is no room in the marina to berth Impulsive so we just nudge her bow up to an arm of the marina between two other yachts and let them hop off. This is a very hasty farewell but a better option than doing a dinghy run with five of us and all their luggage.
We have had such a great time with them despite the language barrier. Also we have learned a lot more about Italian culture, and cooking.
Sylvia was planning to come to Australia for the experience and to improve her English. We had spent some time looking into this for her but her plans have changed. She did extremely well in her final school exams with the maximum marks possible so has been accepted to the American college in Rome on a scholarship. To enter this institution she has to pass an english exam in early January, so now plans to go to Malta to do a three month intensive english course there. if she passes this she will be accepted for the course she wants, involving economics and politics to go into a diplomatic course. They still hope to travel to Australia some time so hopefully we will meet up again in the not too distant future.
Again we anchor outside which we prefer to do in calm weather.

Hyeres, with its main streets lined with palm trees, is the southern most municipality of Provence. The old town is set back some distance from the waterfront but we have run out of walking legs. Also we have a more pressing problem. Having tried to fill the gas tanks again (we were so lucky they lasted with the Albertinis on board) we discover that you cannot simply fill gas tanks anymore in France because of safety guidelines. Ross considers buying new tanks containing gas but the fittings are too different. Plumbers are restricted in what they can do with these tanks.
Also, tomorrow is a national holiday , and it is a long weekend. The capitainaire are very supportive here and one of the young men drives us to a gas station they feel can solve the problem, but with no luck.
We have friends arriving from U.K. on Sunday night so the cooking arrangements are looking dicey. Ross is considering buying a camp stove, and we have the microwave.
Not being able to do any more about it tonight we have a scrumptious dinner by the water front , and later walk past the many street stores set up in the cool of the evening.
We speak to Andrew and Jill when we return to the yacht and are very disappointed to hear they have unavoidable problems at home and are unable to come. Fortunately we saw them earlier this year, and hopefully they can join us next season.

Favourite recipes this leg
Sea Bass with wild rice (sea bass is said to be the best local fish here)
1 Sea bass per person
Sea bass is cleaned and stuffed with fennel stalks and flowers, and wrapped in foil
Barb-e-que for about 20mins. and check it´s cooked through

Serve with wild rice, asparagus and salad.

Mara´s pasta dish
Heat good olive oil in pan with 3 whole cloves of garlic - to flavour the oil, then remove the garlic
Add a lge. punnet of cherry tomatoes - heat through and mash with a fork.
Add a jar of chopped anchovies. Put aside.

In the meantime cook the Trofie pasta (Lee and I bought this in Porto Venero). This is very small (about 25 cms. long), thin, loose spirals made with wheat and flour. Drain and spoon through the above mixture.

Serve with a green salad.

15th. August 2009
After leaving Hyeres, and rounding Cape de l ´Ă‰sterel, and then passing Presqu´ile de Grens, we have a spinnaker run towards Toulon. This is always our favourite mode of sailing and we have been pleased to have these recent opportunities to fly it.
We pass by the flat salt lake (always looking for flamingoes) which make Cap prequ´ile headland look like an island from the sea.
It is very attractive coming into Toulon as it is surrounded by wooded hills and some mountains with bare rock faces.
The capitainerie are very helpful here and we can have a berth. We have been at anchor for 11 nights within the last fortnight (Impulsive was tied up in the marina when we stayed at Amps and Geoff´s). We really need to give her a thorough wash down and try to find a solution to the gas issue.
It must be our lucky day. Ross puts the gas tanks on the marina-arm where we are tied up, ready to search for assistance with it after lunch. One of our neighbours realizes our problem and offers Ross his attachment to fill our tanks. He also knows where to buy a cylinder of gas to do this. It will be best to refil the tanks in the evening as the empty tanks must be as cold as possible, and the other tank as warm as possible to ensure a steady flow of gas. We have the big tank hanging out in the sun to warm the gas.We provision at another well stocked Carre-fours supermarket because everything is closed tomorrow with the public holiday.
We enjoy dinner in one of the many waterside restaurants. It is a fun place to people watch. Later there is a fantastic display of fireworks to celebrate the National Day.

16th. August 2009
Today is spent organizing the boat, eg. five loads of washing and washing down Impulsive etc. Ross has great success with the gas after talking with our neighbour, Max again.
We are in the Old Port at Toulon, Darse Vieille. The waterfront buildings are nothing special but their are older ones in behind here. Looking for the cathedral we happen upon the Provencial market. This is spread through the streetsunder the shade of plane trees, with stall after stall of the freshest looking fruit and vegetables we have seen. I eat the most exquisite peach with such a delicious flavour.
This afternoon we are entertained by an amazing air-show. It really makes my tummy churn to watch how closely and how fast they fly together. We have dinner on the yacht looking over to the waterside restaurnts with all their lights reflecting on the water.
This is the end of our time in the Cote d´Azur.

Languedoc - Roullisson

23rd. August 2009

We know nothing about this coastline from the Rhone delta to the Pyrenees, and it is apparently not very well known. It has been developed with five huge marinas. From the sea some of the vast new modern buildings and apartments are in the shape of pyramids. It all looks very artificial, and such a contrast to where we have been recently with old cities and walled towns.
We pass Aigues mortes, a walled town near port Carmague, where Louis 1x set off for the crusades.
Today we have time to read. Ross is reading The Boat by Nam Le, and I am finishing The book Thief by Markus Zusak.
We come into the marina at Palavas des Flots, where we are welcomed by a very friendly and helpful capitainerie into this newly developed marina. We tie up at Port des Flotes at 5pm. after 10 hours tracking. We are pleased there is room in this large marina which has 1,000 berths, but with only 50 visitor´s berths. It is choppy outside and a bit rolly for a good night´s sleep. It is quite a difficult tie up here between two large poles and a slight cross wind (it reminds us of the n.east coast of Australia).

Swimming Carnival

There is a swimming carnival in full swing when we go ashore. This is held in the River Lez which divides the town in two as it flows out to the sea. The participants are swimming down the river, enjoying the current, and around the small headland back to the beach. There is a great atmosphere with all the supporters cheering. Later there are live bands.
The walk along the sides of the river is colourful with many small fishing boats tied up, and numerous cafes and restaurants, and souvenir shops This was once a tuna fishing town but is now focusing on tourism, more for people from Montpelier than foreigners.

Palavas des Flots

This used to be a major tuna fishing town but is now more involved with tourism. The town is buzzing tonight with a great holiday mode about it. We decide having dinner on the boat is the best option so buy some fresh fish and Ross is pleased to find a wine shop selling wine from a huge wooden cask. It is Vin de pays de l´Herault Rouge ou Rose´, which is very favourably priced at €i.20 a litre. It went well with the dorado fish!

Wine Cave

24th. August 2009
The wine last night was so good we walk back into town this morning to buy two more containers of it. This is partly because the owners are so lovely, and they manage such an attractive shop.


Ross spoils me with some new bathers and a summer dress!
Marseille is described as a dirty and busy town, amongst its other attributes. The point of this comment is I can´t believe how dusty the interior of the boat is. It keeps me busy for sometime this morning trying to clean her.
We refuel here as there is no wind and it is an easy dock to approach.
With a good forecast for the next two days we are just tracking 12n.miles today to Sete. It is so calm we motor with no sails up. It is a good day to spend time lying out on the foredeck soaking in some sun. We don´t do this very often but it is very pleasant when we do. We are very conscious of being out in the sun too much.
For some reason we both felt a bit homesick today. I guess it is three months since we left. I guess you adjust mentally to time frames and so now we are looking forward to being home in a few weeks. But first we have more exploring to do and Ross particularly will be pleased to finish the passage across the Golfe du Lyon.
We are snapped back into the reality of our trip when we go ashore at the old port. At first we comment on how the holiday season has suddenly dropped away, but as we walk further into the old town we find crowds of people are lining the bridges of the canal, and its sides, to join in the celebrations for St. Louis, their Patron Saint here. I can´t believe I haven´t brought the camera with me to capture this spectacular scene. There are giant video screens set up each end of part of the canal which is closed off for what looks like a jousting competition between two teams at a time, on large row boats. Each boat is rowed by ten people and has a man at the stern with a wooden shield and a pole. Each team is dressed smartly in their uniforms. As the boats approach one another from opposite directions the men try to push each other off, with great encouragement from their supporters.
This is still a working fishing town. The harbour and canals are lined with various sized fishing trawlers from small to huge. There are fishing nets drying everywhere.

Fishing boat returning tinto the port

From this port, which is the second largest along the french mediterranean coast, the herault wine and oil are exported. Before we approached the entrance to Sete harbour we could see the large tanks on-shore.
We walk up to the Musee´Valery. It is closed for renovations, but the view back down to the canal and sea give a good overview of the houses in the old town with their colourful shutters.
The place actually looks a little seedy and in parts smells of a fisherman´s port, as we look for somewhere for dinner. We find a cafe alongside the canal out of the way of the traffic, and beside some of the large fishing trawlers. The people who run it look a bit questionable but we have the best paella here. As the night settles in and the lights come on around about, this area develops quite a character and comes to life.
When we go to bed there is a slight wind and we can hear the rigging of other´s boats slapping on their masts. Most of these boats are local so their crews aren´t sleeping on them. It doesn´t keep us awake though.
During the night we are woken by live bands swinging into louder action. The young woman in the marina office tells Ross she was up celebrating until 5am. She was at work by 7am! Unfortunately we won´t be here for the fireworks tommorow night.

Leaving Sete

25th. August 2009
Today we set off to track 56n.miles in a s.west direction to Collioure. We are able to sail for a while until the wind drops out, so we motor-sail with the mainsail up, and then we have to bring that in too. We are not disappointed though as the important thing is to have a calm crossing here.
The wind picks up again and for the last few hours we motor -sail with the headsail up and average 7-8 kts, arriving at Collioure an hour before scheduled. This small town looks very attractive tucked into the mountains, all covered in cloud. This has been our first overcast day for as long as we can remember.


Collioure a is a gem. It is built around its small port where we are able to tie onto a mooring just off the main beach near the old church, in front of the walled town. This is lucky as you are not permitted to anchor here and there are only nine visitors moorings. Two years ago, in many of the Costa Brava ports, the regulation was brought in that you are not permitted to anchor, but only to use the provided moorings, which limits the availablility to stay in thee different places. It helps to arrive at these places sooner rather than later to increase the chances of securing a mooring for the night.
We can see why impressionist artists were attracted here, and still are. We have a drink at the Hotel les Templiers. The owner here used to accept paintings from artists for rent and the hotel now has a permanent exhibition of 20th. century art. We follow the path around the port which displays works of Matisse and De´rain. We enjoy these very much, especially their use of colour.

Painting by Matisse

Hotel des Templiers

Typical boat in the small port here

Buying bread at the market here

Cooking a barb-e-que on board

26th. August 2009
We track 4 n.miles around to Port Vendres. This is another charming small port but is still a working fishing village. It has exceptionally good protection here. There are strong winds forecast over the next few days so we secure the boat well and hire a car to go exploring.
Reading the pilot book Ross is concerned we may have a problem because we didn´t check into immigration when we came into France. We assumed it is the same as entering the E.U. by plane ie. once you have entered the E.U. (as we did in Greece) you may enter other countries without checking in. After checking with the Customs officer it is clear all is well.
Now we are free to set off in the car, with no fixed plans. We drive north up the coast to Perpignan and then westwards to Quillan.The contrast of the scenery entering the area of the eastern Pyrenees is fantastic. Driving through the glacial valley with its high, rugged and barren peaks each side is spectacular. Many of the slopes are covered with vineyards. Later we are driving by he Aude river, lined with wooded areas. This is the site of international canoeing and rafting.

Views of the Pyrenees

Rock overhang enroute

We stay in a hotel which serves delicious traditional french cuisine.

Breakfast on the terrace

27th. August 2009
This morning we take the "Sentier des Oliviers et Roc de Capio". It is three and a half hour walk, and eleven ks. We don´t see many olives at all, in fact only one stand high up just out of Ginoles. It is said it is unusual to grow them at this altitude, so when they were grown here in ancient times it was very special.
When we climb to the top of the mountain ridge there are wonderful panoramic views down into the valleys of farmland below and across to other nearby mountain peaks. Fortunately there is a lot of shade along the wooded parts of the track. The landscape changes a lot as we walk up and then descend again. This walk gives us a better feel for he area.
We have a late lunch in the town square at Limoux in the Haute vallee´de l´Aude, a well known wine region.
Late afternoon we arrive in Carcassonne, a UNESCO world heritage site. This is a medieval walled town, set up high. It is interesting trying to imagine what it was like to live here all those years ago. We enjoy our stay here very much including walking around the town through the cobbled and narrow streets, and some fine dining. Cars are not allowed access here which is sensible as it is not a large town and is crowded anyway.

View looking up to Carccissonne

L´Aude river below Carcissonne

28th. August 2009
From Carcassonne we drive via Tribes, a delightful town, out into more open countryside where general farming is happening. In the towns and by the canals we pass along many attractive avenues of trees (they look like a variety of plane trees). Through this area are many fields of sunflowers which look ready to harvest.
Chalabre is a lovely town but everything is shut down for lunch.
Now we drive through a wide river valley where there are signs for deer everywhere. We don´t actually see any but we enjoy knowing they are here.
We venture up to Chateau de Puivert , which is very old and is being renovated. It has an interesting history from C11.

Chateau de Puivert and view of the farmlands below

Tapestry in the chapel at the top of this chateau

We return to the steeper Pyrenees country now as we travel west via Quillan towards Axat to a Band B up in the mountains at Cailla. This is one of the smallest towns we have ever seen. It is another great area for walking with wonderful views.



Ross is really stretched with his french with our host and hostess, and the other five guests at the B and B, Les Terraces du Cailla. The dinner here is excellent, with all the fruit and vegetables out of their garden.

Serving cheese after dinner

29th. August 2009
Rafting is the excitement this morning. We have two hours rafting on l´Aude river , including Les Gorges St. Georges, with a guide. It really is a great activity and such a wonderful way to see this beautiful scenery. There is fun in the air too as several of the rafts are filled with guys making up a buck´s party.Rafting on the L´Aude river through Axat

We are actually very cold at the finish. It is amazing how quickly the season is coming to a close. It is actually the last weekend of the rafting season here because the dams to this river are being closed off from the power stations on Monday. We notice the early mornings and nights are cooler now.

Driving back down to the Pyrenees foothills

We have a hot drink and wickedly rich french pastry at Axat, another attractive town (which we rafted through) and a picnic lunch at Argeles.

Picnic lunch on the beach at Argeles

After a taste of the Pyrenees we would both like to see more of this area. We are interested to learn more about the Pilgrim´s walks.
It is always a relief to come back and find Impulsive safe and sound. There are signs of the strong winds forecast ( to gust up to force 11 on Saturday). Many of the fenders have been rubbed up hard on the jetty arm and are black in places. A tramontane was predicted which was to last about three days, and then typically there are about ten days of calm. This is great news as Jenny and John arrive tomorrow only for a few days so it would be disappointing if we couldn´t take the boat out.

30th. August 2009
John and Jenny are on their way, driving from Barcelona. It is so wonderful to see them and hear all their travel news too.
They also bring with them the perfect weather for their few days with us. We have our best sail for a long time with a beautiful n.easterly of 15 - 20kts. for the three and a half hour sail to Cadaques. John and Jenny had emailed their friends who live in Barcelona who wrote back to say they wouldn´t be there because they would be at their holiday summer house in Cadaques. Incredibly this afternoon we get the right wind to sail there. Jenny hasn´t been able to call them on their mobile number but when she tries again it is successful. Ramon is amazed to hear her voice and happens to be out on their boat too. Apparently he thinks Jenny is joking! He kindly organizes a mooring for us next to theirs and he and Marie Angeles, and their crew of three come on board for a drink and rendez-vous. What fun! They have a very attractive boat which seems unique to the area. It hasn´t got a sail but when the fisherman used them years ago, they did.

Ramon and Marie-Angeles´ boat moored next to Impulsive

We are treated later to drinks in their magnificent home, which they built. Then we all walk into town to dinner at a local restaurant they recommend. It is a magical, still night with reflections of the moon and village lights over the water.
Marie Angeles is Catalan which is fascinating to learn more about. She speaks the language (one of five) and still enjoys being involved with the culture and dance.The catalan language is spoken in eastern and north - eastern Spain, and in the Roussillon region of France. Catalonia is an autonomous community.


31st. August 2009
Today we have a SSE wind gusting up to 35kts. It is what we need to take us back in the direction of Port Vendres where Jenny and John have left their hire car. It is so difficult to drop cars off and hire another one this seems the best solution. All this coast is lovely so it works out well.
We can sail the whole way. We start out with the mainsail up and then the spinnaker.

Sailing with the spinnaker flying

Unfortunately the wind gets up a bit and is a little variable so we have to bring it down, with some difficulty. It is good we have John´s extra strength on board. Then we sail with the headsail and mainsail up, and as the wind gets stronger we "come home" with just the mainsail up. We have a lovely four hour sail back to Collioure. Ross and I are pleased to return to this village to share it with Jenny and John.

Walking out to the Chapel

Looking to the the far side of Collioure

We have a rolly night here with the swell, especially when the wind drops out. Dinner on board is quite a fun affair, including dancing.

Dinner on board

1st. September 2009
We track the four n.miles back to Port Vendres in time for a farewell brunch with Jenny and John at the fishermen´s co-op. on the wharf. This is a great experience we discovered when we were provisioning a few days ago. There are two market - type shops selling fresh fish, and one of these offers different platters of seafood with a glass of beer or wine. What a marvelous way to start the day and a suitable way to end our time with Jenny and John.

What a delicious platter!

Oysters and beer (or wine) for brunch

Favourite recipe this leg:
Paella for 4 persons
Use a large heavy frying pan or saute pan. The traditional pan has two lug, or loop handles and is made of earthenware, iron or heavy metal.
For four people 10-12" in diameter and 2" deep is a good size.

12 large prawns
(chicken - if desired)
2 teacups of arborio rice
2 tomatoes
seasonings of saffron (I used "epices paella which contains saffron from a jar we bought at the fish co-op)
pimento (spanish paprika)
pepper to taste

fry the chopped and peeled tomatoes in the same oil
stir in 1 teaspn. paprika
add the rice and the prawns (shelled if preferred)
cook steadily for 15 mins.
add .5 teaspn. of saffron
rice should be cooked in 5-7 mins. add more water if necessary or cook more quickly if too moist.
Serve in pan it is cooked in