Finding Shangra-la…..Heaven can Wait!

Our recent landing in the southern French village of Esperaza has provided many benefits.  It’s a bit like the pebble-in-the-proverbial-pond syndrome.  The wonderful ripple effect.

I mentioned in my last post that we had met a nice gentleman, Gary Granville, whilst we were using the facility at the aire there in Esperaza a week ago Sunday.  Since that meeting we have exchanged some emails, and Gary has given us some wonderful suggestions of places we might enjoy visiting in the area.

One of these is Rennes les Chateau, only 8 km from the Esperaza aire, where we set off to last Tuesday morning after breakfast.  I was happy Paul hadn’t looked at the twisting, winding barely-a-road-more-like-a-trail route there on our Michelin map guide.  I think he would have been put off and not made the attempt.

The hairpin turns were a bit daunting, but as usual, he was up to the task and we arrived at the motorhome parking lot in good fashion and with every one and everything intact.  The white knuckles on both of our hands soon returned to their normal color.  And of course, the girls’ couldn’t have cared less!  Traveling is just traveling to them.

Soon after we settled into our space and we set up the folding chairs outside and dragged the girls’ beds out so we could all enjoy the sun and warmth the afternoon provided.  The views are sweeping—and the famous mountain (Google this one–it has a very intriguing history!)–Bugarach looms in the distance and was often wrapped in misty clouds.  Farthest away are several snowcapped peaks and the remaining views are of the surrounding hills and valleys, and tucked into the valley just west of us is Esperaza.  I felt as though I were in my beloved Swiss alps.

It didn’t take us long to realise this was the best place we have yet stayed—no encroaching motorhomes, no people, and very few disturbing noises, except the occasional passing car on its way to or from the village above us.

After a rest in the sun we decided to make our way to the village and do a bit of exploring.  There are several restaurants there, but all are closed for the season unfortunately.  There is one shop that carries a myriad of gifts, postcards and a lot of religious oriented goods.  The shopkeeper there was quite kind and the postcards were the cheapest I have yet found.  We wandered around taking in the beautiful architecture of the various buildings, and then sat on a bench to further take advantage of the warm sun before descending back to the Hymer to tuck in for the evening.

The next day we put on our hiking gear and took off down through the fields to explore. Unfortunately we got a bit of a late start and had to return to the motorhome, as the sun had set and the temperature was dropping rapidly.  We vowed we would continue the trail exploration the following day.

We got an earlier start the next day and decided we wanted to find out if we could find a trail that would allow us to navigate around the village without backtracking.  And we found a great path which did just that!  Many good photo ops along the way made the trail even that much more interesting.

We found a nice spot somewhat out of the wind where we could rest and read and eat our homemade granola.  What a lovely time we had!  While traversing the trail, Paul asked me where I would most like to spend Christmas this year, and I suggested this might be the best spot.

With the sweeping views of the surrounding undulating countryside, and the snowcapped Pyrenees in the distance, it would be a grand setting.  However, that said, I think we want to see what the coast might hold as well, as we both love being by the water.  So the jury is still out on that one!

I know that we will meet other people as we work our way through the winter and the area.  And no matter where we travel or where we land for a night or two or three there are always delightful adventures at our doorstep.

I will close with this quote from Chris Stewart who wrote among other books, “Driving Over Lemons”–

“I don’t think there’s anything better you can do in the middle of your life than to pick it up and shake it around a bit.  Do something different, live somewhere different, talk another language.  All that keeps your destiny on the move and keeps your brain from becoming addled.”

Thanks Chris–you are So Correct!

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Cynthia Smith

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Richard - December 13, 2016

Reading Paul’s notes makes me think you are traveling with Mr. Bean! Perhaps you should be considered for the Nobel prize for patience! Happy travels 🙂

Andy - December 13, 2016

Love the Chris Stewart quote, so true.

Ian Carrington - December 13, 2016

I love reading of your adventures, best of luck to you

Brigitte Del Grosso - December 13, 2016

Your stories sound more relaxing and calmer. Adventure is an adventure and life is like a box of Chocolate you never know what you get. But that IS what it makes fun. Not knowing what is around the corner. And there is always beauty to be found.
I enjoyed my trip to New England in Sept and again in Oct. to VT. The foliage was great and spectacular. Last year I drove down in Feb to FL, but it was still a bit chilly. I still enjoy a little adventure and go where the wind takes me or the road. much love Cynthia.


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