20th August 2018
South of Grignols, Southwest France
Yesterday’s venue turned out to be a bit of an odd one and the reason behind it not fully understood by yours truly until this morning’s walk.
The day passed peacefully enough, very peacefully really and come early evening there were just a couple of odd souls knocking about, plus Amy and I. We had supper and got the Jeep into ‘night mode’ after which I started to read a downloaded book whilst Amy was snoozing. Gradually, I became aware the place was getting strangely busy for so late in the day - several cars had entered the carpark area but even they did not explain the disproportionate number of people generally walking about.
By 10pm it was quite dark and we were well settled down for some serious kip but the cars kept coming and going and the walkers kept walking about by now all clutching flashlights. Eventually everything did settle down and by about 11pm it was mostly peaceful until suddenly in the silence BANG, BANG, CRASH, WHIZZ, BANKG, BANG - bloody fireworks being set off very nearby to us and the din was like what the battle of the Somme must have sounded like. Poor Amy was not amused and I had to grab her, hold her very tight and cover her eyes and ears for it’s lengthy duration.
Finally it stopped and the torches emerged from wherever they had been hiding and headed back in the direction of the carpark. The cars left shortly after but surely not enough cars to carry so many people?
The main road, in the distance became like the M25 of a Friday afternoon for a time - and this is the road which I drove for many km’s earlier in the day and saw about three cars!
By midnight it was total silence, peace and tranquility were resumed and we finally had the place to ourselves.
Up at the usual time and walking at daybreak we headed out to explore the lake which we had noted, but avoided yesterday in the strong afternoon sunshine and high temps. Turns out its not one lake but several, all interconnected and we were parked at the extremity of the least significant lake - but the main lake was a bloody tourist resort place!
Suddenly, everything that happened last night made some kind of sense. All the people on foot with torches had come from this area, complete with it’s formal ‘activity centre’ building, extensive beach area and campsite to see the ‘Sunday night firework extravaganza’! I imagine such a display happens every Sunday night during the holiday season. The cars on the main road were the crowds toing and froing to the main entrance of the lake and only a very few cars came directly to where we were as it’s rather obscure to find and deliberately (it seems) not signposted in any way. Where we were was in nearby proximity to a rather large and affluent chateau (I think that is where the fireworks were ignited) and perhaps they like to keep the hoypoloi as far away from their gaze as possible?
The good word is the lakes, the beach, the activity centre, et al were all completely deserted when Amy and I walked them this morning so she had a super long run through lakes and forests unimpeded.
I wasn't very happy during the firework display last night but, overall, our stay there could have been a lot worse. That said, I probably wouldn’t ever go back there during the holiday season.
So, on the road again after our walk we crossed the wide river Garonne at La Reole where we also visited a really piss poor Lidl store and a staggeringly good InterMarche directly opposite.
Due south from La Reole on the D9 and then the D10 Grignols where we struck off south through a vast forested area on very obscure minor roads. We haven’t come too far into the forest because we quickly found an unmade road I think we can legally drive with no habitation along it anywhere. I don’t know the names of any places nearby but the GPS coordinates are:
Latitude : 44.34104 (44° 20′ 27.76″ N)
Longitude : -0.08425 (0° 5′ 3.31″ W)
accuracy of signal : 5 m
The tranquility here is magnificent, or was until the French airforce started to practice an extended session of roaring round the heavens in their hugely powerful jet fighter planes just after lunch. Sadly, its something the French do quite a lot over really rural areas and is a real pain in the arse. It must cost the French taxpayer an unbelievable amount of money to keep up and I can only hope they ‘enjoy’ it about as much as I do.
Mind you they are probably so busy banging off their hunting rifles and shotguns that they don’t hear it for, yes, we are in yet another major hunting zone - notices proclaiming it so everywhere. I am sincerely hoping the large hunt we ran into last Saturday was some kind of one-off and hunting has not started here yet but I’ll keep my eyes and ears very much open just in case.
An ‘interesting’ fellow, the average Frenchman - very much a worthy target for those sisters I was trying to rally yesterday, I reckon!
Sisters to arms Sweet dreams are made of this?