An Eccentric Frenchman at Narbonne Plage

Gruissan’s Quatre Vents aire was pleasant enough. It had a fully equipped service point with two motorhome bays, potable water, a grey water drain and a couple of chemical toilet disposal points. We had an open view of the Étang du Grazel on one side and a harbour filled with sailing boats on the other. A big plus was the surprising lack of motorhomes. It’s a big site which can hold two hundred and fifty vehicles if they’re packed in like sardines. We shared the space with one hundred and fifty of them last Christmas. We counted just thirty this time.

The real problem was that ever-energetic Abbie had nowhere to burn off her energy. With no open spaces, any dog walking needed doing with a lead. Bassets and leads aren’t happy companions. Hounds are stubborn. They like to sniff and snuffle in their own time. Walking them on a lead is a very frustrating affair.

We decided to move to an aire at nearby Narbonne Plage. We stayed there on two or three occasions last year. The aire had acres of space next to miles of golden sand. We discovered to our dismay that stopping there during the week was free, but a night spent over a weekend cost €10 (£8.82). We hoped Sunday night would be fee free. We were right.

The aire was deserted, which was good. It was deserted because it was inaccessible, which was bad. The entrance was blocked by immovable boulders. The aire was clearly closed for the season.

Everything was closed nearby including Ecole de Kitesurf, a windsurf and jet ski hire business adjacent to the aire. We parked in a bay in front of their closed gates with an open sea view.

We had the beach to ourselves apart from an odd Frenchman. The pot-bellied middle-aged man waded through the knee-high surf, naked apart from a pair of navy blue thermal leggings. The wet bottoms clung to him in all the wrong places. He stopped every few seconds to run the fingers of one hand through his shoulder-length grey hair and take a selfie.  France is a strange place.

Roadside parking with a sea view

Roadside parking with a sea view

This aire is definitely closed for the winter

This aire is definitely closed for the winter

A deserted lifeguard station on Narbonne Plage

A deserted lifeguard station on Narbonne Plage

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