Day 10 — July 10, 1996 (Wednesday)
10.07.1996 - 11.07.1996
[I didn't take any photos on this day since it was mostly a moving day. We drove from one campground to another. I'm putting in two photos taken on the same road but these were taken in 2010.]
We broke camp, breakfasted in our lovely little Auberge and bid “au revoir” to Madame Casanave. Retraced our steps on the tiny back roads to Castelnaudry and got on N113 going to Narbonne. The closer we got to Narbonne the more Spanish the buildings looked.
No trouble finding Narbonne, and we headed to Centre Ville to get some francs. This morning at checkout Madame would take a credit card for our food but she returned our reservation check and asked for francs for the campground. “Camping and Caravanning” didn’t mention that little detail. What did people do before ATM machines? Traveler's checks, I suppose . . . and there is always cash.
Left Narbonne heading for the next campground and did our now-famous getting lost act. There were two roads on our map labeled D32 — one went to the beach and we couldn’t find the other that was the one we needed. We finally gave up and paid the A9 toll to follow the Michelin directions. It didn’t work well, but we finally found our campground and checked in. We hadn’t eaten; the restaurant and store were both closed, so we drove back into town and ate at Buffalo Grill listening to bad American country music, and yes, you can get a lousy meal in France — try Buffalo Grill! At least it was food. Better music would have helped . . .
Wound our way back to camp and set up the tent in a pretty strong wind. Ed is doing our first laundry in France (no dryers) while I write this perched on two air mattresses (no tables or chairs in campgrounds) in a tent that is trying to become airborne. Wish we had our portable picnic table, our camping rugs, a broom and dustpan. Air travel does not contribute to good campership!
The campground store actually sold clothes pins, so we hooked all our shock cords to nearby trees and hung up clothes! That done, we set off down the road to see if there was another D32 that connected the campground to Gruissan. We found ourselves driving along the Canal du Robine under a row of plane trees. It was like driving in a dream. Next, we crossed the canal and drove through rice fields and a nature reserve and found ourselves in Gruissan. The road wasn’t marked until after you left town . . . typical French road signs.
Back to camp! We decided we weren’t very hungry and didn’t want to order the usual French “menu” for dinner and picked out a pizza. The camp auberge lady seated us (along with two other couples), but when she discovered we only wanted pizza, she informed us it was only emporter (takeout). We asked if we could use a table on the absolutely deserted patio and were told that would not be possible. We ordered our pizza and left the nearly empty restaurant, with no doubt in our minds why it was empty, and had a picnic on the floor of our tent — mediocre pizza — mediocre wine. Humph.
We’ve noticed French campers seem to rent tents at the camp site and they are huge several-room affairs with a kitchen that includes a refrigerator. There are no barbecues or picnic tables because the tent kitchen also has table and chairs. Many people also seem to carry table and chairs in their cars. We’re suspicious that the large tents also have a bathroom of some kind because we seldom see French campers at the restrooms and the gentlemen are seen carrying buckets up to the restrooms early in the morning. I think we have a lot to learn. [The next trip in 1998 we found a few more picnic tables in various spots by the roadside and today, campgrounds in France are nothing short of luxurious and there are picnic areas all over the place. Progress.]