Pyrenees Rally 2019
In various stages prior to the 15th May, 10 of us set off across and under the `Channel‘ for our second International outing this time to the Haute Pyrenees for a 4 day Rally.
The next morning we were totally blown away with the view from the front of the van up the Estaing valley. The view became the main topic of conversation, and how our vans turned into Mountain Climbing goats to arrive on site, all without major incident.
Wendy and I arrived via the Cest is Bon sites at the Somme and Verdoyer and found Auch closed off for a twinning ceremony complete with high flag throwing on the Sunday evening. Those who attended may recall the site was opened up a week early in their season to accommodate us, however, Wendy and I found ourselves as the only occupants on a Saturday, apart from the owners Virginie and Herve. After our 370 mile drive, the peace and quiet and wonderful clean air 1168 m up in the mountains was very welcome.
By 7 pm on the 15th all 10 vans had arrived and we were treated to our Welcome dinner, complete with aperitif and a surprise glass of bubbles at the end of the meal.
A Trip had been arranged on the Thursday to a Honey producer. Slight adjustment to the brain was needed when it transpired that they had one hive of their own , but did collect honey from all round the area , including our own Campsite . One interesting fact was that in normal conditions a bee will live for 5years, 3months and 3 days. Then for some free time look round the local area and back in time to try some local produce .
Friday took us to Lourdes for the day , via a funicular railway to some mountain top caves ,in the rain and just on the cloud base. There are not many places in the world you can be sat taking a picnic in the clouds and when they did break you were accompanied by Eagles, well compared to the size of our buzzards and hawks they were eagles. The afternoon was about 90 minutes free & time at the Lourdes Grotte and Cathedral . At this time (yes still in the rain) there was the annual Military Reconciliation Ceremony weekend going on with all of Europe’s and afar Service
Personnel being represented. Many different uniforms and some mascots including a German soldier with an eagle nearly as big as himself.
Taking refuge in a Cafe with Canadians, Germans, Austrians and French the local patisseries had to be sampled, and something worked as the rain eased off as we went to the Lourdes Castle for a spot of Pyrenean History and Culture,
Saturday turned out to be fine as Pierre collected us for our final trip and this was to a wine producer.
Now remember this is France , where the grape rules the crops, imagine our surprise when we pull up very sedately outside a very modern factory unit na an equally new trading estate. Two friends from school have set i-their own company collecting the grapes ( occasionally helping pick as well ) from around the region and manufacturing @ 8 varieties . The sampling was assisted by Virginie’s pate and baguette which made for a very successful time, so much so we were presented with three bottles of wine to help our Farewell dinner go down that evening.
A very fine meal that ruined out to be as well, with the main course being Duck , out of this world lyonaisse potatoes and Lemon Tart which turned out to be a very fine lemon meringue.
And so to the farewell speeches etc and our Rally was nearly over. Thank you all who attended for your company and Wendy and I hope you were able to make some new friends and share some special memories , particularly of those Mountains.
It was then on to Andorra (briefly, twice) and Barcelona, Bay of Roses and back up through France for us via the Millau Bridge and others dispersed for their own tours.
Meanwhile some very loose plans are being drawn up with a Dutch Campsite for a bulb field type trip with a difference in 2021.. Nothing specific for 2020 other than a possible location meet up on the way down to , or home from Isny.
Chris & Wendy