Sunday, February 01, 2015

Close by - Domaine de Saint Sauveur

My DB was busy at a meditation retreat this weekend... sudden thought, is that a contradiction in terms? Busy/meditation/retreat? I'll rephrase: he was not available for a walk in the sun so I went by myself.

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
My DB is always on about doing things mindfully now that he's into meditation and such. I call it 'being in the moment' and it's something I've been aware of for years now. Anyway, in the spirit of joining in, I dug my telephone out of my bag (I'd forgotten my camera), and decided to look at what I saw mindfully.

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
I left the main path and followed one signalled by a yellow stripe. It took me up hill and down dale along a narrow stony track that I hoped would not be the chosen route of a maniac cyclist.

Spot the yellow stripe
The jogger was nowhere in sight, and I met no one else either. There were other cars in the car park so the place was not deserted, but it's so big you can feel pleasantly alone even if you know humanity is not far away.

Dead tree amongst the living
I wondered what had happened to the dead tree, stripped of bark and wood weathered smooth. Maybe it was the victim of a rare typhoon.

Lover trees?
The lover trees that seemed to be leaning over to kiss from one angle just looked liked leaning trees from another, a bit like that Channel 4 moving logo.

Garrigue plants: rosemary, thyme, spiky Chène kermès at the back
My walk was punctuated by bursts of fragrance as I went past bushes of thyme. Strangely, while the sun was strong enough to warm the essential oils of the thyme for the enjoyment of all, it wasn't for the rosemary which had to be crushed to release its fragrance.

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.


  1. Calm and tranquility. You sure do know how to pick them. I do imagine if I look hard enough, places like this exist here in the big city of Berlin, too. You pinched the thyme, right? I know I would've. 😜

    1. I pinched the rosemary, but the thyme was already filling the air in the sun. It smelled gorgeous.

      We live to the north of Montpellier so have easy access to the countryside. I love it here. :)

  2. Another lovely walk. I'm inspired to photograph bits of my local park next time I walk there and blog about it. Not quite the same as your beautiful scenery, but still a mindful experience.

    1. Good idea, WM. We are spoiled here so it's easy to be mindful of the beautiful scenery.

      I remember a park from when I was young and it was basically just a grassy space for kicking a ball about, with a kiddys' playground and scabby bushes round the edge.

  3. You are very lucky to have such a beautiful place to walk. Round here, it's so flat, there is no mystery with regard to what's over the brow of a hill as we have none. Not many trees either. Need to get in the car and find a good walking spot. I promised myself I would do this some weeks ago and still haven't!

    1. Well you have been a bit busy tending to others so exploring has taken a back seat. :)

      It's very flat on the south side of Montpellier with the lagoons and coastal plain. There are no hills to walk up but you can admire the flamingoes instead. :)

  4. It is a great place to walk...Obviously there is nothing like this in London...As for your DB being into meditation, I have to say that I am really surprised. I hadn't realised that meditation was becoming so big in France. Or is it only your DB?

    1. Oh yes, there are several well-attended meditation groups in Montpellier, and regular retreats are held all over the country.

      London has other attractions, but I must admit, I love living near such splendid countryside. It's such a resource of peace and well-being.

  5. It's so good to get out of the car and enjoy the stuff we drive by! It's the same for me living on the coast - to get right down to the water's edge or go further up country and walk among the green. Looks lovely :)

    1. Yes it is lovely, and you also have lots of beautiful places on your doorstep. It's an effort to get out, but well worth it. :)


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