I did not sleep very well last night. I had thought we had quite a peaceful location but I woke at 04:30 and was quite surprised by the amount of traffic noise. It turned out that the wind had changed in the night and now we were getting the noise from the motorway that I had not realised was quite as close as it was! Otherwise we had a peaceful night despite effectively being in a supermarket car park. There was no hassle from security, no lads in noisy cars wearing out their tyres or playing loud music nothing at all really.

Bertie parked in hypermarket car park

Once the supermarket opened we went and bought some fresh bread. It was still warm. I also walked the entire length of the mall carpark around the corner from us but did not spot another motorhome. We were all alone! That is unusual and I think it is the first time this trip that we have been only motorhome parked in a recognised location. We are normally the only Brit.

Today is a driving day. No particular visits planned but some scenic roads I hope. We want to go Sète about 60 miles away. This is quite an interesting town that grew up as a result of the Canal du Midi which connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean as this is the point where the canal joins the Mediterranean. It is still a significant port and ferries leave here to various ports including North African ones.

Much of our route today takes us along the narrow strips of land that divide the sea from the huge coastal lagoons (called ètangs). Sadly stopping points were quite limited and the roads were quite busy so photo opportunities were not good. Thus you will have to take my word for the large numbers of flamingos we saw. I knew there were flamingos in the ètangs but I had not expected to see quite so many. Every ètang had at least one flock and many had numerous groups of these impressive birds, some quite close to the road.

Coffee stop by an étang

We did find one pull-in on a minor road right beside an ètang and stopped for coffee. A large group of flamingos could seen but so far away I needed the binoculars to be sure. What we did notice was just how shallow the water was and how clear. Apparently this suits shellfish really well and there are some huge oyster and mussel farms in some ètangs.

Bertie parked on the top Mount St Clair

Our stopover tonight is small car park on the very top of Mount St Clair 175m above the little town of Sète. I had rather misjudged just how high this hill was. Bertie and huffed and puffed all the way up, mainly in first gear, and my thoughts of wandering down to explore the old town were clearly not going to realised! However the views are amazing. It is short walk from the car park to the main viewpoint. As soon as we parked up we went back to take in the view back over the old town and along the littoral that we had followed for about half today’s journey.

View over Sète from the viewpoint

The sun was shining brightly and the view was stunning but the Mistral was still blowing and the wind chill was significant. Not too bad whilst you are walking but stop still to look at the view and it really feels cold. We did discuss staying here an extra night and getting the bus down to the old town and back tomorrow but sadly the forecast is for rain tomorrow so we will move on again instead.

After another yummy lunch washed down with last of that bottle of red wine from Uzés and followed by another slice of the chocolate and pear tart we bought yesterday, I was keen for another walk. Eileen finds the wind tough on her eyes so I set out alone to see the views from the other end of the little hill. We will be driving out that way tomorrow but it will probably be raining by then so it is today or not at all. On the map it looked an easy two mile stroll.

What I had not realised was the approx 40m height difference. Nice walk and good views just as the sun set but a bit of climb back up here on the way back. Undaunted I collected Eileen from Bertie and we went back to the first view point to enjoy the same views but now with lights coming on as it gets dark. I tried to get some photos but nothing was good enough to put on here.

Sunset over the saltpans

Much discussion about the plans from here on. I had wanted to explore the area between here and the Spanish border but on balance we think that we need to keep pushing south. We hear that Spain is cheaper that France and a good bit warmer. Another trip to this whole area at a better time of year is definitely called for!