My eldest graduated from the local lycée last year which is exactly a seven-minute drive from my house. Having made the trip countless times I know every last blip in the bitume and reference point along the way. One of these is the entrance to the Domaine de Saint-Sauveur, a protected forest of roughly one hundred hectares.
Students at the lycée don't look out onto graffiti'd walls of decaying inner city buildings, but garrigue and pins d'Alep.
Visitors to the domaine can explore by foot, mountain bike or horse. I was on foot, at a brisk walking pace in the chilly but crisp and sunny 11°C. I set off at the same time as a bloke decked out in black and turquoise blue that harmonised nicely with the colour of the sky. He was keenly jogging...
|Entrance to Domaine de Saint-Sauveur|
The forest is criss-crossed by paths of every type. There is a parcours de santé (health run) which used to have signposts along the way instructing you to carry out some action like wave your arms like a windmill, walk with your knees up, do ten press-ups, etc. That was several years ago and they all seem to have been nicked or vandalised now, so the exercise apparatus is still there but you have to know what to do with it, and for how long. Most people just jog and ignore the monkey bars, parallel bars, press-up bar and so on.
|Follow the yellow stripes|
|Spot the yellow stripe|
|Dead tree amongst the living|
|Garrigue plants: rosemary, thyme, spiky Chène kermès at the back|
I hadn't intended on walking for hours as it was mid-afternoon when I started out, so at some point, when the small track crossed the main path, I took it and headed home.
|Time to head home...|
|...but not before visiting le Yeti's den|
There's a children's educational programme in France called 'C'est pas sorcier' (It's not rocket science), and the panel on the Yeti den I saw near the entrance says that it was used as part of a show in Spanish. I've never seen it before, but I'm sure it'll be a great hit with the kiddies that visit the park. It even has a couple of branches of dried herbs hanging up inside.
Guess who I caught up with on my way out of the park? Le joggeur in bleu ciel. I wonder which route he took and if he had jogged mindfully. He looked knackered, anyway.
I had a brief look at the notice panel in the car park and saw that you can walk 30km from the Domaine to Mas Neuf (where I went earlier this month). It takes eight and a half hours apparently (less if you cycle or ride), but must be lovely in the spring. You'd have to lay on transport back though...
We're lucky to have such a spot close by.