Getting to our target Mediterranean aire Palavas Les Flots, like its namesake it all ended up being a bit of a palaver.
Firstly, the motorways (which we’re avoiding) especially the A9 south of Montpellier. This is a completely mad 12 lane wide affair with the six middle (paying) dual three-lane carriageways, separated by a barrier from a triple (free) carriageway in either direction on the outside….
All very fantastic, however if you happen to go wrong (which of course we never do) and find yourself on the wrong bit, by the time you realise your mistake you have to carry on to Bournemouth before you can turn around.
The new A9 is actually amazing and cost € 800,000,000 to build and carries the through traffic to Spain which in summer peaks at 170,000 cars a day.
When we finally make it to the location of the aire there’s nowt there except a dusty disused car park with a low barrier.
However we eventually find another spot by the sea at Le Grau-du-Roi and everyone’s happy. Well not quite (this is a recurring theme). It says on the very confusing parking meter up to 35€ for 16 hours! mmmmm that’s not good. If that’s the price we’re off!
Lesley eventually figures out with 2 free hours and only staying till 9am and as it was Monday and it is the low season so it’s only 9.50 €.
La Grande-Motte nearby was far too, far too much for us…. even out of season
And seeing all that water reminded us it was time to do our washing.
Yes, one of the joys of touring in a motorhome is you have to wash your smalls. As we’d be passing by a big city where a laverie or laundry should be easy to find. Lesley took Charlie to the centre of Montpellier, but not before a final wrestle with the outer lanes of the A9. That accomplished, negotiating the city was an easy task and our luck was in as we found a laundry with the aid of Google maps near the centre of town and a bonus – we were able to park Charlie very conveniently outside!
Where next? Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is another spot counted among the Plus Beaux Villages (most beautiful villages) of France. Here in 806 Saint Guilhem established the monastery of Gellone. It is now home to numerous artists, many of whom may be found in their studios around the square that is dominated by a huge and ancient plane tree.
As parking is limited, in the high season to cater for the visitors there’s a huge car park 9 kms away where a bus service operates to shuttle visitors along the road and up the gorge to the town. In February, with no bus service running we were able to park Charlie on his own in the small coach turning area directly at the foot of the village.
After a long day we ended up in a free aire in quiet part of the small town of Aniane. There were no facilities just a designated patch of land, but we were very comfortable and had two other vans for company.