I'm a spur of the moment sort of person so I announce that we are taking a trip to the Mediterranean a mere hop from Carcassonne. 'When'? His Lordship enquires. 'Immediately' I reply and 'Mummy's little helpers' jump to attention falling over themselves with glee at the prospect of running the show. I'm bundled out of the front door with indecent haste trailing sarongs, flip flops and clutching a tube of toothpaste. 'You'll be fine then' ? I detect a slight uncertainty in my voice. The sound of the door closing resolutely leaves me standing on the driveway.
Heading South through the Corbieres the sky looks a promising clear blue with the sweet fragrance of Mediterranean cyprus's wafting through the windows. I find the perfect spot (naturally) in which to decamp. Situated next to the lagoons of the Narbonne coast, Rome's first colony in Gaul, a silvery path of soft sand winds its way to the shoreline where waves are making a pleasing swooshing sound. The season has barely started down here and ends abruptly on August 30th as the French don't seem to have twigged that the rest of the world holidays all year round.
We drove through the beautiful Le Massif de la Clape, an area of outstanding natural beauty and famous for its wine to the tiny village of Bages. We admire the inlet where Philippe le Longue galleys were built for his crusade which never took place. A wonderful sundial presented by Louis XIV in gratitude to the people of Bages for their care of his exhausted troops on their return from his Spanish campaign adourns the Medieval arch to this fortified village. Houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries for the wine growers cluster together. At this point I would love to continue with my languid and seductive description as I toil with my paintbrush to bring you this picture of rural France but as with most picture postcard scenes brutish and insensitive renovation abounds.
I am however blessed by the sighting of two oyster catchers, well lovebirds anyway in the early morning light of the utterly still and silent lagoon. On one side is the full moon throwing its shadows on the water, to the other side the morning suns begins to show its first rays. The rest of the coastline is barely stirring as we saunter along to the sea. I take my first tentative paddle but then I'm in embracing the salty sea joined only by the solitary fisherman on the rocks in the distance. A breakfast of fresh baguette and Bonne Maman Cassis Gelée brings the invigorating experience to a pleasurable close.
On our return home however I know why I fell in love with the Languedoc.