Saturday, October 4, 2014

Roquebrun--Le Petit Nice

We have two weeks in our apartment on the Mediterannean at Canet-Plage.  So each day we look for a new adventure that is within driving distance and promises some discovery.  Not difficult, but always a challenge simply to decide which direction to take.

In an effort to cover a swath of diverse countryside, we started in Narbonne Plage (the beach of Narbonne).  The coast from Canet-Plage north is a series of strips of land bordered on one side with the sea and on the other with marshes or inland lakes.  Narbonne lies inland from the sea though in Roman times, it was a seaport.   The Aude River changed course and the port silted up making the port useless. Nonetheless, it was on the Via Domitia and  was an important Roman city between Rome and Spain.  The coast of Narbonne is now much like the rest of the seaside resorts in this area.  What we discovered was a town with an older village and stretches of newer and some much newer houses and apartments for holiday makers like us.

Climbing up from the sea, we headed into higher countryside  with vineyards and scrubby pines.
Vineyards and pines
View to the Mediterranean
At a vista point, we stopped to look at an orientation table that was atop what looked like a WW II bunker.

Moving on, we passed through Colombier which sits along the Canal du Midi. The lock was just in the process of shepherding a boat from one level to another in time for the next boat to arrive for the same treatment.

Moving on, we passed Capestang where the 9th century tower pushed high up into the sky.

Our destination was Roquebrun sitting over the River Orb.  The town is known for its Nice-like microclimate where wine grapes are grown in great profusions.  The town hosts several caves where wine is available for tasting and for sale.  Its major sites are the cactus garden (We took a pass on that coming from cactus-laden California.) and the Carolingian tower from the 10th century.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant perched on the hillside overlooking the river and bridge.
Overlooking the bridge and Orb River

Kitchen garden
Called "Le Petit Nice" like the town's nickname, it was a perfect place to enjoy the river.  Below the balcony where we sat was a kitchen garden with a profusion of tomato plants and recently-harvested butternut squash sitting along the stone wall near the river and others not yet harvested along the inner wall.  Down the river from the bridge were the remains of an old mill, which in its heyday must have produced flour for the town.
Former mill

Lunch started for me with a kir--white wine with a bit of cassis.
This was followed with an extraordinary salad of honey-drenched goat cheese toasts over fresh and crispy lettuce and serrano ham.
Salade de miel de chevre
Every morsel was uimaginably delicious.  Phil's plebian pizza was much to his liking along with his crispy beer.  Lunch was followed by coffee and a search for what I thought would be a Roman bridge but which turned out to be nothing of the sort.

Across from the restaurant was a monument honoring the war dead from World Wars I and II and the Algerian conflict.  As always, attention was taken to the floral embellishments.

War monument

Honoring those from conflict with Algeria

We returned to our nest satisfied with our exploration into a present-day world of long ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment