(29) Paul’s Visit 23 September – 8 October 2011.

The main male pastimes during Paul’s visit were boules and fishing; in Agde, on the adjacent bouledrome and in the River Herault; and in Villeneuve-les-Beziers at the local boules terrain and in the canal. Meanwhile I passed the time walking, cycling to a couple of beaches, visiting the market, reading and writing.

The Herault at Agde, boules, BBQ, wine and fishing…things could be worse !

 One of the many fine carp during Paul’s stay.

Later the same night and Paul lands another cracker.

 Whilst in Agde we also explored the area, making the most of Paul’s car. One day we drove to Le Grau d’Agde before heading east to the more modern Cap d’Agde with its large port. There we explored the Plage du Mole and volcanic cliff ‘Belvedere’ and black beach below. At the Mole Plage, we enjoyed a drink in a beachside bar and I went for a refreshing swim in the sea.

 A trip to some of the many beaches nearby in Paul’s car.

 Volcanic and very pretty but too far from a bar !

 Ah..thats better. Nicci rehydrates before popping in for a swim.

 Back at the barge we were surprised to see a digger at work excavating a hole near our mooring. Over the next few days the hole got longer and deeper eventually reaching the water table. We learnt that it was an archaeological dig and that they hoped to find Roman artefacts there. The archaeologists were certainly busy and took several soil samples, but when we returned a few weeks later the site was filled in and deserted.

Another day we drove across the narrow strip of land between the Etang de Thau and Mediterranean to Sete which dominates the opposite end of the Etang (20km from Agde). We had only seen Sete from the distance as we crossed the Etang last year and it was much larger than we’d thought.

On arrival we went straight up to the view point at ‘Mont St Clair’ which gave us a superb panoramic view to the north and east. There was a huge white cross at the top which could be illuminated (at a cost) by anyone wishing to celebrate something special. A nice idea I thought. There was also a small church dedicated to ‘Notre Dame’ beautifully decorated inside with frescoes depicting all sorts of scenes, particularly fishing ones.

 The Etang and Oyster beds from Mont St. Clair.

 Pay as you go cross.

 A short drive took us to the other end of the hilly town to ‘Les Pierres Blanches’ which afforded us an excellent view of the Etang itself and its oyster beds.

 Another view over the Etang, bet there’s some good fish down there !

 With hunger setting in we made our way down to the port with its several canals and many fish restaurants all offering more or less identical food. It was still bustling with tourists and we were spoilt for choice, eventually choosing one adjacent to a large fishing boat. I had Moules Gratinees, Paul the Huitres Gratinees and Peter the Soupe des Poissons- all of which were delicious. I followed on with Sardines Grillees, salade and frites, Paul with Moules Mariniere and Peter Moules a la Crème. Well what else would you choose in a town renowned for its freshly caught fish?

 A good choice of restaurant in Sete.

 Oysters, moules and fish soup.

 The best fish soup ?…I think so.

 Suitably replete, we had a short walk around the canal before heading back to barge.

 Suitably replete, a walk round Sete.

 Having driven past Mont St Loup (another example of volcanic activity in the region) I was keen to go there and admire the view from the top. After driving to the base we had a fifteen minute walk up, but unfortunately our view was limited owing to the heat haze. The old lighthouse was derelict and we wondered why more effort hadn’t been made to develop the spot.

We left Agde on Saturday 1st October in glorious sunshine and cruised to Villeneuve-les-Beziers while Paul drove the car and met us there. As he parked he noticed a tap which was used by builders renovating a canal-side building and we were able to use it to acquire some free water later that week.

 Breakfast at Villeneuve Les Beziers.

 Followed later on by more fishing !

 The hot weather continued and we drove to Serignan Plage for a swim, amazed at how warm the water still was- even Peter joined me for a swim! We also drove to Valras Plage for a look around and returned there another time so I could swim and the chaps play boules.  Our final trip out was to show Paul the flight of locks at Fonserannes, which we would be going up again at the end of the month.

Paul left for the comparativly short drive to friends in Carcassone and Peter and I pottered around tidying up and preparing for our next round of guests- Dad and Laura who were due in a couple of days.

We spent a pleasant evening with Irene and David who we had seen on a couple of occasions during the summer but not had the chance to get to know.

After losing our Carte Bleue in an ATM in the town- it literally fell inside before I’d even pushed any buttons (!!); we cruised to Beziers and moored up in Port Neuf from where it was a short walk to the station and airport shuttle bus to meet Dad and Laura.

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