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CHICCHANTAL
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Wagon?

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Get up bright and early to go to the market in search of soap. Provencal markets usually have stalls with 97 flavours of soap, and every year I stock up. Unf. Hyeres' market hasn't, possibly because the tourist season is over. Instead I sat outside a cafe and have my breakfast usual, cafe allonge and a croissant.



Cafe allonge is a bit like an Americano, a shot of coffee with extra hot water. I go round the market and the specialist shops taking pictures of all the gorgeous food for sale:

shellfish

fish

'shrooms, various

peppers, dried

vinegar in various flavours

the French version of take-home food, much nicer than the stuff you get in supermarkets


I can never resist a melon.

Feeling hungry, anyone?
Walked around the mediaeval town centre, looking at the covered streets



I read somewhere once that Hyeres was the first riviera resort. It has loads of gorgeous Belle Epoque buildings as well as the older ones. Queen Victoria was fond of Hyeres, and Edith Wharton lived here:



as did various other famous people. There's a strong historical connection with the British - Queen Victoria was I think the person who made Hyeres a fashionable resort and they've got an exhibition on at the moment. I suppose if it keeps raining and I get really desperate for something to do . . . nope. Will never be that bored!

Walk around for about an hour (counting exercise minutes here) and choose a place for lunch. Madame irritates me by looking at me and assuming that after the pasta with goat cheese sauce



I want the cafe gourmand (this translates as greedy coffee) which is usually an espresso with three 'tasters' of different desserts. The fact that I DO want the cafe gourmand just rubs salt in the would. Anyway it isn't very gourmand, a sliver of apple tart and a small scoop of raspberry sorbet with cream.

Buy six cans of peach flavoured iced tea and carry these back with me. Get indoors just as the heavens open. In French, it doesn't rain like cats and dogs, it rains like cows peeing. No kidding! And it does. Spark a bit, snooze a bit, look out of the window and it is brilliant blue sky.

Decide to walk up to the castle. This means climbing up through the mediaeval streets of the town





past the tour des templiers (which I take to be the Knights Templar) and which has a birdcage belfry on top of it, typical of this area


and the church of St Paul



stopping briefly to admire the view



and up to the Parc St Bernard.




Short rest here, for photos and to look at the view



continue up to the Villa Noailles. This is a modernist building that looks like a cereal box to me but it is apparently a Big Deal.



Look at the view again


Keep walking up past the ruined castle



Keep walking up and get to the belvederes at the top.



Pause for stunning view. Nothing at all to do with being completely winded, sweating buckets and out of breath. The place where I am standing is 204 metres above sea level and although I didn't start at actual sea level I wasn't much higher, so I've climbed a long long way up.

The remarkable thing is I'm not nearly as tired as usual after this climb, and I get my breath back in about three minutes.

All this exercise really works, doesn't it?

Anyway, the view. The view from here is my favourite of anywhere, ever. You can see the hills in front of St Tropez. And



the Hyeres/Toulon airport (on the left of this), the salt pans (where they have flamingoes), the end of the Giens peninsula and beyond it the island of Porquerolles to which I'll be taking us in a couple of days' time if you're good.

You can also see that the weather has got dodgy again. The view is much nicer on a sunny day but it's still impressive. The hills/mountains behind and looking particularly threatening. If you told me there really were dragons in them there hills, I'd believe you. These hills were created by volcanic action and it shows.



Walk back down, and get back indoors just as it starts to rain again.

I really hate to say this but this evening I went out and had more pasta, this time with seafood which is good but also with a lot of olive oil which is not. I had another quarter litre of wine and another cafe gourmand.

What wagon?

Oh THAT wagon. I'll catch it tomorrow.
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