It was thanks to a non-refundable hotel booking that got my DB and me to patch things up the next day and agree to enjoy the rest of the weekend together. I had indulged in a mega lie-in until 10am (I'm normally up no later than 8.30 even at the weekend, 9 grand max), so had to get my skates on to shower, pack an overnight bag (which hadn't really been unpacked since the weekend before...) and whip up a picnic.
I picked him up at 11am, and we drove off towards Mont Aigoual. Just outside Le Vigan, we took a road we've never been on before, not even on the bike. It was a teeny road - single-car narrow - and bumpy, the D329, and although not 'green' (on the Michelin map), it went through some lovely fragrant woods and scenery. (I note that it joins up at Mandagout with the D170 which is similar, but green. Must try that one next time!) We stopped at a shady spot amongst delicious-smelling pines for our picnic, and enjoyed the excellent 'Tradition' bread with good ol' cheddar, Branston pickle and spring onions, and dipped cucumber and green pepper into the rest of the hummus.
Thus fortified, we drove on and arrived at L'Esperou via the Col de la Lusette which was open (natch). There were very many bikers about, several of whom were sprawled on the sledging slopes having a snooze. Otherwise, it was pretty calm and very different from the frenetic atmosphere of the ski season.
We drove up to the tourist office at the Col de la Serreyrède and had a look at the maps and books of walks, but decided not to buy anything, which of course turned out to be a mistake. The girl at the desk suggested we do an easy walk at Mont Aigoual called the Chemin des Botanistes, and told us where it was and what to look out for.
At the top of Mont Aigoual is an imposing castle that was built in the 19th century as a meteorological observatory. It still serves this purpose, and today, has the addition of a free meteorological exhibition and museum. We had a quick look at the shop because we like to do things the wrong way round, and I bought a book on local edible salad plants because you never know when times could be hard... The exhibition was extremely interesting. It's not at all hands-on, so my boys would whizz round it in 5 minutes to be found in the snack bar later scoffing chips (probably), but I enjoyed reading the panels about clouds, the weather, and watching videos. There is also a museum of old machines used to gather information and make forecasts, and panels describing how the castle was built. We found it very interesting.
|Mont Aigoual Observatory|
|Dead tree of many stumps|
|Forked tree (many looked like this)|
|View from bedroom balcony of Meyrueis main street and stream|
|Narrow streets in Meyrueis|
We slept with a cool breeze floating in through the open window, and the sound of the stream which penetrated even through my ear plugs!