Well then, there I was, with my family – two kids, the youngest 2, the eldest 7, and my wife – at a gorgeous camp site in a really beautiful area of southern France. It was pretty much at the bottom of a canyon, but the ages had turned the area into many canyons so that one may very easily confuse the area with mountainous.
I’d travelled 1000+ kilometres to the south, from The Netherlands. Anticipating warmer weather, we had packed shorts and T-shirts, swim-clothes and whatnot. The only warm clothes we had were the jeans and pull-overs we wore on the journey down there. And the next morning disappointment hit big time: clouds, some rainstorms, fairly heavy winds, and only 9 degrees Celsius as a maximum temperature during the day. Farking cold!
After a shivering breakfast with a hot cuppa tea, we decided to get back in the car and drive down to Montpellier – down to the beach. There it was a lot warmer – 23 degrees Celsius – but also more windy. So the beautiful view and the nice sea to swim in was disturbed by unending complaints from my eldest: dry sand swept along the beach and it hurt his legs. Stretching this to an hour and a half was absolutely the limit of anyone’s tolerance. We got back in the car and drove into Montpellier, to get a glimpse of the historical city centre.
That was – surprisingly – a good idea. Montpellier is an old town, and its history has made its city centre quite a sight to see. A huge church with no church-square to speak of in front of it drew my attention. My family were more amazed by the view from the top of the mountain with the royal square – and the ancient Roman aqueduct that no longer functions but still stands.
Leaving Montpellier at 16:00 that day was less of a good idea. This day was July 13th, with the next day being a French public holiday (I know, but had never thought of it…). Also, the Tour the France would visit Montpellier on the 13th and 14th of July. This combination caused traffic to back up into people’s garages – and the 5 odd kilometres to get out of town took us over 2 hours. So instead of cooking a nice camping dinner, we had something fast so that the kids could get into their relatively warm sleeping bags before catching a cold. Because at the camp site, it was still well below comfortably warm.
Also the next day it was this cold. Scared of more traffic jams, we decided to walk up the canyon wall behind the camp site. This was a good idea in two ways: first, we stayed warm for the better part of the 9 degrees Celsius day, secondly the views from the trail were really nice. And to my great surprise, my eldest actually had fun walking up… He walked the 8 kilometres (4 each way) without complaining.
We did decide to walk back and forth, and not full circle though, because as we got near the top of the plateau, rain came. And I can tell you – in shorts, a T-shirt and 9 degrees and heavy wind… rain isn’t a pleasure. And all that waited was a warm shower, a camp site dinner and a mildly warm sleeping bag. And a big question mark as to what tomorrow would bring.
The camp site did advertise a wifi network – but it wasn’t free. And even when we decided to pay for it, it was so slow that a weather forecast couldn’t be downloaded, nor could we send any messages across different social media…
While writing this blog, the blog was called “Moron on holiday”