Saturday, June 23, 2012


So give a hefty yawn, or a smile of indulgence, or, maybe like me, savor every last bit of the last day:

Friday. Late in the morning, we walk to town. Have I emphasized here, on Ocean, how vibrant and lovely the flowers are along the way?


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And I know I’ve talked plenty about cats, but the truth is that Sorede (and France in general) is really a dog’s place. The cats, skittish, mostly scampering off if you get too close, are ignored. Background noise. Whereas the dogs? Ah the dogs!

In the bakery:

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At the café:


And speaking of bakeries, yes, we’re at our local one, but too late for pain au chocolat! This is what it is at our local one: come early or you miss out. Ed takes an apple tart and I take a croissant and up we go to the café bar on the main square.


Last breakfast here. Sniff...

Note we did not pick up a baguette. Here’s the plan: we’ll eat lunch at Le Fournil. I mean, we have to try this just once. We owe it to... someone, them, us, whatever! Oh and as long as we’re driving up for lunch (and with it, the delicious bread), may as well show off here (finally) the clunker. Parked beneath the (American like) billboard announcing the bakery. How appropriate.

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At the bakery-café, we both order salads with warm goat cheese. And we linger. Strange that we should like it (sigh, we’ve changed...), but we do. It’s a modern, rather “could be anywhere” setting, but the people watching is still splendid.

For example, we note that the owner/baker extraordinaire, M. Castro, is out helping serve tables, sell breads, exchanging friendly greetings with this person and another. His wife, Mme. Castro works behind the counter and they’re both busy (best guess: the regular crew is on their own lunch break).

He puts out a salad and a rosé for himself, but it’s a long while before he actually sits down. She joins him. Proud owners eat lunch.


Hike: there must be a hike. Can’t be much of one, but we pick something new, from neighboring LaRocque. Drive to LaRocque, leave car, walk the old streets of that village, not our village, but a sister of sorts. Except I can’t help but think -- Sorede is nicer! Busier somehow. With a heart, a place where you know where to go if you want to be among people. Still, LaRocque is pretty. Quite charming actually.

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The trail head is easy to find, but we miss the turn off very early on and well, you know the story: we do not know where we are. Not at all. Except it doesn’t really matter because we have no ambition, no goal today. Hike in a new place. Period. (Ah, the Roussillon plain, the Corbieres in the distance!)


We continue through a dense forest, hoping for some insight as to where we went wrong.


But in fact, it is a wonderful thing that we get lost because had we stayed on course, we would have missed the place where the beautiful damsels and dragonflies come to.




We’re by a gushing brook and we scale the boulders to get a better view of the small cascading falls...


... and you know the routine here as well: I get stuck on some slippery rock and can’t get down because I imagine myself sliding down into the boulder-filled waters below, but it all comes together in the end and there is no trip to the ER, Ocean continues, my dramatic imagined mishaps tabled for another time, another hike.

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And then – you’ve guessed it, right? A last trip to the close Le Racou beach. It’s a beautiful, absolutely beautiful evening (it’s six, so it’s evening, no?).


The waters aren’t as warm as they were at La Franqui, but they are superb for swimming. There’s a little bounce in the sea, but not too large, not too large, near perfect!


Goodbye, sea. Maybe we’ll see you in the next couple of days, on the Spanish side, maybe not. We have two days of Catalonia rambling before giving up the car on Monday. Who knows, who knows...


As we drive back the scant handful of miles to Sorede, I think – Oh! I haven’t emphasized the olives that grow at the base of the Alberes mountains! We feast on Sorede olive oil the weeks we’re here!


And one last look at the vineyards – so dense now!  -- stretching toward the Corbieres hills. We hiked those last week! And chased down wines that are made there!


And speaking of hikes, did I mention that as you drive into Sorede (from the sea side), you get this splendid portrait – poignant for us because the front is the hill we climbed the first day here and the second mountain, seemingly behind it, shows off our great climb up to its peak – Pic du Neoulous.


We leave the car at home and walk down to town again. It’s after 9, but the little vineyard that we pass each day is still glowing in the last rays of sunlight.


Dinner’s on the square. Of course it is.


The waiter  warns us – it’ll be slow. He has a table of 18 French men, women and children to serve first. Fine, fine, we’re fine with waiting, but we do move our table this way and that because here’s a trait of French people that actually troubles us not a small bit: they smoke to high heaven. Finding a smoke free outdoor space often requires adjustments (smoking is, thankfully, illegal indoors).

Still, they’re all a genial lot, at least until the game on the big TV screen positioned for all to see the World Cup (tonight: Germany v. Greece) draws some cheers from the German guest at the café bar. The French take on the cheer for the (rare) Greek goals. I’m thinking we’re witnessing some larger issues here that go beyond soccer. There she is, on the screen, Angela Merkel cheering for Germany, there they are, Frenchmen around a table, cheering for troubled Greece. 

Our pizzas are here (vegetable, so that I can have those chunks of artichoke again), the sangria is poured, chunks of citrus fruits crowd the little glass, the evening is starlit, beautiful.



No fuss, no big goodbyes. We’re just small fry, passing through, remembered most likely for my dangling camera and Ed’s large frame. And his love of cats, squash-faced, stub tailed, black and white...

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