11 April 2018

Winter in the South of France - Empty Beaches and Bare Vineyards

Friends Ron and Fiona sent this of their boat "The Swan" this winter.
I LOVE the way the canal looks in winter! 

This is the top of "The Swan" - a beautiful old Dutch tjalk.
Ron and Fiona have a snuggly free-standing stove that keeps everything cozy and warm inside the boat, despite the layers of snow outside. 
(Okay, it only snowed a bit - and didn't stay very long.)


Nothing moving on the water. 
No bicyclists in fancy day-glo clothing. 
No rental boats. 


The nearby beaches - empty. 



Luckily, a few restaurants are still open.

This is from our bedroom cabin window. Cool - even in winter.
Of course, some days look like this - so it's probably understandable.

To us, from dry New Mexico, rain is pretty wonderful. 
It's a bit - exciting - to hear the rain pounding on the boat while we're safe and dry inside. 

(Rain FILLED a bucket I had on the aft deck - several times over.
-That's way more than we get in a YEAR in New Mexico.)


New Mexico Christmas decorations. Candles in sand-filled paper bags. Wouldn't work if it rained. 

But: people from New Mexico aren't good at knowing how to deal with rain. 
Our shoes were soaked right away. 
Puddles! I forgot about puddles. 

My boat crocs have HOLES in them. 
So my socks got drenched! 
Well, of course. 

Our dinky little umbrellas - the wind laughed at them and blew them inside out. Pfft. 
Our backpacks and clothes got soaked. 

Rain is a good excuse to visit museums, so - we headed south, toward the Spanish border.

Found a rainy castle to stay in. 
Between the mountains and the Mediterranean.
The nearby Pyrenees are spectacularly snow-covered - so much snow! 
- When they appeared between the clouds.

View from the castle window. There ARE mountains there. Big ones. Somewhere.
The winding mountain roads, filled with camper vans in summer - are now empty.
It just feels so darn - atmospheric. 


There's something about being in a place - most any place - out of season. 
It reminds me that out of season is the best time to travel. 
Towns are empty, parking is easy. People have time. 

"Boat People of Poilhes". We don't have to reserve a table in advance.
And the winter vineyards-!
They're just gnarled and bare stumps!
Hard to believe they'll be bursting full - very soon.

No, not snow. Rocky soil, apparently good for holding in heat.
(Some vineyards in Languedoc seem to be pure rocks.
Other vineyards are filled with wildflowers between the rows of grapes.
I think it's planned but - I don't really know.)


Soon, it'll be busy.
It's a popular place in summer.
And we'll enjoy that, too.

But - there's something special about right now.


And: there's always time for a small glass of rosé.
And one of Stan's famous salads on the aft deck.








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