Saturday 24 March Port la Nouvelle

What a lovely, bright and sunny day! We decided to go off and explore. So far our exploration has happened along the beaches and around the ‘etang’ (pond – more like an inland sea), including the Ile de Ste Lucie, along one side. Today our travels took us to Port Mahon, which comprised a car park, a wood with picnic tables and a tiny sailing school with Dart 16 catamarans, dinghies and RIBs……. Oh and they appeared closed.



Beautiful views across the etang, with wild flamingoes all over the place. Barbara tells me that the pink colour comes from the shellfish they live on.

flamingoes (I wish I had brought the telephoto lens)

A short drive later took us to Peyriac de Mer, a truly beautiful and quiet little village. We walked a few km around the banks of the etang from here and wandered through the sunny sidestreets among the beautiful Mediterranean houses.

wall art

some with interesting decoration,

cool places to sit

so pretty


et un peu étrange n'est pas?








As with all French places there is evidence of canine occupation, which one has to navigate around. Some bright spark in this village has taken to planting a little paper ‘tricolor’ on each deposit;

le petit poo!!

this makes them easier to avoid and, hopefully, helps to convince the owners des chiens to clean up after themselves.





The rest of the afternoon was spent at a place called Terra Vinea, a wine centre at a place called Portel des Corbieres. This is the place where they have a cave 1km in size, with different legs in different directions. The main gallery is the size of a cathedral and has a beautiful light show.

the 'cathedral' changing colours

in purple

store 1500 barrels (220 litres up to 2000 litres in size) for 6 months to a year, depending on the wine. The cave is also a museum to the history of wine making and is some 80 metres below the surface. It is very well laid out and well worth the visit. Oh yes: and because it is so early in the season, Ba and I had the guide all to ourselves. With his limited French and our limited English (or was it the other way round?) we got round quite successfully.

Us, descending into the cave

A note on the caves: this area is rich in gypsum, as evinced by the huge Lafarge factory at Port la Nouvelle.

Mining for gypsum

The guide informed us that these caves were actually gypsum mines run by Lafarge, and when they moved on to pastures new they gave 1km of the system to Terra Vinea. What most people don’t know is that behind certain wall sections (4 metres thick) there is a large-ish gap, and then another 4 metre wall. Behind these are a further 33 KILOMETRES of tunnels, locked off forever. It would cost far too much to maintain such an enormous system. It seems to me that this tunnel system is of a size comparable with the tunnels under Gibraltar, and all for commercial reasons.

Back to the apartement for baguettes and salad, some music, reading, a game of $h1thead and off to bed.


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