Sunday, October 01, 2017

October in Sorede

Every trip I ever took to Sorede had been in June. I felt it was a perfect month here: the beaches were empty. (The French vacation extends over July and August. That's it.) The air moved from pleasantly cool to nicely warm, without ever being hot. There was the anticipation in the air of vacation, but without the madness of France on vacation. Perfect!

No, no -- the people who lived here said to me. It is more perfect in early Fall. Not hot, empty, and the sea waters are delicious!

But how does this region change in the autumn months? Is the lushness diminished? Are the Mediterranean forests dry and parched? Does anything bloom now?

I'm beginning to have some answers.

I wake up to a beautiful October day in the Languedoc region of southern France.

We are a foursome here. I surely want to give my friends a chance to discover this region on their own terms and so I offer several possibilities on how to approach this day. But let's deal with breakfast first: we decide to go to my preferred bakery for bread product (this one is worth the three mile drive; besides, you get to pass this wonderful view onto Pic Canigou - the mythical and magical summit that attracts the more ambitious climbers)...


The bakery itself (Fournil des Alberes) is without fault. It does everything perfectly. (I'm thinking that the giant eclairs are to be shared at the family Sunday lunch...)


(I'd eat the whole brioche easily, but I settle for a pain au chocolat...)


But of course, it's the bread (baguette for us) which is the standout. I haven't found any anywhere that I like as much. Ed shared my view on this so I am going needle him with this photo. Very chewy, Ed... Very chewy!!


Back in Sorede, I pick up some (local!) strawberries from the new green grocer -- run by a lovely woman who tells me that they now have local strawberries year round!


We eat our breakfast on Sorede's main square (meaning we take our breads and berries to Sorede's cafe and eat them there -- an acceptable custom).


Oh, and I ask Shmuel to take a picture of the awesome threesome:


That wonderful cafe, spilling out toward the huge linden tree could swallow me up for a long long while. Ed and I would often linger all the way until lunch service and only then did we guiltily clear ourselves out, so that they could set the tables for the big eaters. But today time is precious. One last photo...


Well, no -- I have to include this picture of the owner/cook and local friends...


And after, the married couple takes off on a long hike up the mountain just behind our house and Diane and I do our own hike -- one that I enjoy so much at the beginning of any stay here, one that is modest perhaps (just over two hours going up, a little less coming down), but so very beautiful. (Groves, pines, Mediterranean scrub)...



It's a hike that school children do here on a fairly regular basis and it shows off the great Roussillon plane (with the Corbières Massif to the north)...


... as well as the Pyrenee Mountains to the west (le Canigou again!)...


... and the sea to the east (note the fall colors here: they're not typical yet, but they sure are lovely!).


Oh, how happy I am to be looking out on this stretch of land! I just cannot believe my luck that I should be smelling that scent of a Mediterranean forest again (and no, it's not dry at all! Verdant and full, stubbornly clinging to its voluptuous bounty)!

At the end of the first trail, there is the small church - a pleasant endpoint, except I want to go just a bit further: climb up that rocky narrow path to get this view:


I left Diane behind for this, so my summit photo has to be a selfie...


I think to myself that I should call Ed from here, but there is no cell service and so I cannot activate my hotspot. Just as well -- it's only 5 a.m.  back home.

(Some fall color again... Dad and son picking chestnuts...)


We take the long but wide path back to Sorede. As Ed always says -- even on the same trail or road, the views are always different on the return. (It's Sunday time for men to express their inner and outer selves; we pass the occasional mountain biker or well muscled runner...)


It's all so familiar it hurts, but in a pleasant sort of way!


Back in Sorede, we walk dangerously close to where Ed and I used to stay. Memorable were the cats then, and they still draw my attention, if only to recall with a smile all times Ed would stop and pet each and every one of them...


And now Diane and I are so ready to sit down, this time at the lesser cafe on the lower square for a coffee break.


The owner -- the same one who mixes up a hell of a great paella on the Catalan June holiday of San Jean -- is hoisting a Catalan flag in solidarity with the (tumultuous) Catalan election in Spain.


In the late late afternoon, back home now, we put out bread, cheeses and a chestnut spread for a lunch. The rose bottle comes out, just because it's light, inexpensive and delightful in its label (Les Petites Desmoiselles -- the little damsels; I mean, charming, no?).


I had wanted to hit the beach today (do it all!), but as the evening temps come down and the clouds roll in for the night, I change my mind. Back we are for dinner on the square. But not at the Cafe Bar. I only pause before it because the kids are playing football and the parents are drinking un petit blanc (a small glass of white wine) and don't you want to be reminded of such nice moments, even if they are in the lives of families far removed from your everyday?


We eat instead at Ma Maison, a step up from the Bar, but still a bargain at 20 Euros for a three course meal, tax and service included. And the bream fish is excellent and the company superb and the evening has the rosy glow of a day well spent.


Ah Sorede, you are indeed all that I remember you to be!