Tuesday, April 06, 2010
It brought into sharp focus the disparity in attractiveness between small French towns in a fairly restricted area, and how the unwitting foreigner could buy a cheap property near a lovely place like Pezenas only to find it's in a former mining village and a real run-down, miserable dump. The Orb river valley seems to have a large number of depressing shit-holes which, in early April were damp, covered in moss and certainly nowhere you'd want to spend more than the time it took to drive through.
The inhabitants were of the stumpy, furry-teeth variety, traits that years of in-breeding had developed. A friend of mine has a husband who used to work in the small town of St André de Sangonis. He is a doctor and she said he was constantly amazed at the ingrained stupidity and mental handicap of many of the inhabitants.
If you are thinking of moving to a French village, this is what you will have as a potential pool of friends. Retired execs enjoying the fat of the land after a brilliant career they ain't.
I had wanted to stop for lunch in Pezenas which had plenty of places open and lots of people mooching about, but it was only just after midday so my TWDB suggested we have lunch in Bedarieux instead. It'd been a long time since I'd been there but the last time I was, I remarked on what a dump it was. You'll be interested to know it hasn't changed. As we drove slowly around looking for somewhere to eat, and failing, I wished we stayed at Pezenas where we'd have been able to choose from any number of cute yummy-looking places.
Eventually we found one restaurant - La Forge - open. It was a surprising place because it was stunningly and authentically attractive. Set in an old forge, the ceilings are vaulted stone, there's a huge open fire place with cast iron tools and stuff decorating it and the food was fantastic. The place has no website; being in the middle of nowhere I suppose it's only the locals who eat there, and as there's no other choice, it was heaving. I remarked to the waiter on the lack of restaurants and he agreed saying that the ones that opened had difficulty succeeding and usually closed after a short time.
Well, I suppose, Bedarieux is such a dump it gets few visitors and the locals eat mostly at home. I could be wrong, of course.
Having stuffed ourselves with a delicious lunch, we were in need of a snooze, and found it off the road in a quiet spot. It was so sunny that my face has turned a delectable shade of red and I can be know for the next few days as Sarah l'Homard.
We contined on to Lodève and then over the plateau to Aniane and home. The weather was fantastic, the little minor roads great fun and amazingly good quality, and we had a lovely drive. It's a very beautiful part of the world and if you're not stuck in a bog in some shabby backwater, a lovely place to live.
Tags : Bedarieux, Bikes, La Forge, Pezenas, Restaurants
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Snap, MG has the same bike as your TWDB, have not been out on it this year, we are only fair weather bikers.ReplyDelete
Why on earth did you not have lunch in Pezenas? I know it quite well as we often stop for lunch there on route to Belle Meres, I love the architecture. Never mind, sounds like you had a great lunch in an attractive restaurant, restaurants round here are crap and the ambience in them could make one lose the will to live. Another favourite stopping off point is Metz for great seafood.
Completely understand about depressing villages, we have a few of those round here, can you imagine how bad the inbreeding would be if the bicycle had not been invented!
Sorry not Metz, I meant Meze.ReplyDelete
We didn't stop cos it was a bit early. Bedarieux was 20 mins away so he suggested eating there. I'll know for next time.ReplyDelete
We had intended just having a light lunch but were obliged to have a full lunch cos there was just nowhere else. Never mind, it was totally yummy and in a beautiful stone dining area.
Totally agree with you re Meze, and Bouzigues has some nice places too. You just can't get fresher oysters and mussels than from the producer's restaurant!
I hadn't thought of the bike angle in diversifying the genetic heritage of French villages. Hilarious!!!
I forgot I knew you. I do like your blog and I must keep better track of what you get up to. You are now duly clamped to my sidebar where I can keep a better eye on you.ReplyDelete
As for inbreeding, my dear - the Bretons must have started the trend. We've still got them with mullets and shell suits here.
Thanks, FF :)ReplyDelete
Do the women of a certain age all have aubergine-coloured hair too? It seems to come with middle age. They all rush to the coiffeur and have a nice vibrant rinse done.
Bouzigues and Mèze are both heavenly. A plateau de fruits-de-mer and a bottle of picpoul de pinet. That's the life!ReplyDelete
It certainly is, expat! Yum!!ReplyDelete
Some areas of France certainly seem to suffer badly from Bereft Village Syndrome.ReplyDelete
When we first started looking for a place in France we were concentrating on the Charente Maritime. Since we were – at the time – looking for rural charm and a holiday home we really didn’t clock how completely empty of any facilities the villages were that we were considering. Most villages had no school, bar, post office or shop. At best they could offer a hair dressers, ambulance taxi and funeral directors, not infrequently run by the same people.
The population consisted for the most part of the halt, the sick & the lame plus small groups of expats prepared for siege with vast stocks of cheap alcohol.
Happily for us, the vendor of the house we settled on decided that not only did we have room temperature IQs but that we could clearly afford to pay more than the asking price.
He kept finding reasons why we “needed” to pay a little more while at the same time hiving off bits of the land to local horsey types and farmers. When we walked away he was incandescent with rage having agreed the sales of the land (leaving the house with about 500 square meters rather than the 6.5 hectares it started with) but not having quite closed with us.
But he did us a favour in that we ended up in the South Vendée, which has the advantage over quite a bit of rural France in that the French are moving into the place rather than beating the well-warn path to the urbs.
Sounds like you ended up with a great day.ReplyDelete
Where I live the phrase NFN. "Normal for Norfolk". is used to describe local people as a result of a similar life style to your part of France.
Doctors have been banned from useing the NFN word on medical records.
I often say to Mrs N Norfolk is like living in France only the locals speak a form of English.
In some villages all the locals look and sound the same.
Jon, you must have been deeply satisfied to walk away from the old bugger knowing he'd shot himself in the foot. 500m² - that's NOTHING!! Stupid greedy old fart.ReplyDelete
JN - I love NFN. Pity the PC brigade have banned it.
JN - You are quite right: France and Norfolk have a great deal in common. I was born and brought up in South Norfolk (I'm bilingual English / Norfolk, though I think that the proper dialect is a rare thing these days) and frankly the major difference is that in Deepest France they drive on the other side of the road.ReplyDelete
Found your blog through Sharon's and her anointing of you with the Beautiful Blog award. A writer? Fabulous. Consider yourself followed!ReplyDelete
Love Bouzigues too, it's so pretty, full of character and has some very enticing seafood restaurants, we have never managed to eat there, as we have always arrived too late to secure a table.ReplyDelete
I thought Aubergine hair was just a local Pyrenean custom, obviously it is endemic in France, bright orange is also de rigueur round here.
I always enjoy your writing! I wanted to email you but can't find a link. If you pop over to my blog there is a surprise for you! Don't worry I'm not selling something
Kerry - welcome and thank you so much for your kind words. :)ReplyDelete
Dash - I don't know what it is with hair colour here. Either you're chic and blond or you're a peasant and along the spectrum of intense red. At a certain age, natch. My ex-mil henna'd her orginally glorious red hair until well into her 60s and it's so dry you fear sharp gust of wind could snap the whole lot off.
Sharon - thank you very much! My email is dslfr at hotmail dot com.
What do other lovers of the delights of the Etang de Thau think of violets? Those amazing univalves that look exactly like a turd on the outside, but on the inside turn out to be orange stuff that tastes exactly like congealed metal polish?ReplyDelete
Here's what I think of them (Mèze) and here's what my wife thinks of them (Grau du Roi).
Mmmm... there are some pretty grotty places around here too, totuting themselves as tourist resorts due to their proximity to the Picos de Europa, and failing to mention that they are, in fact, economically depressed and run down former mining towns.ReplyDelete
Actually, that would be "touting" rather than "totuting", though I like the sound of it.ReplyDelete
Pueblo Girl - they probably believe that if they say it often enough it'll become true!ReplyDelete
Goodness, I remember a cafe in Bedarieux from the 1970s..an oasis of good food in a desert of 'buffet menus'.ReplyDelete
As to the dead village syndrome...well, when everyone on the street looks like a clone...drive on!
Congrats on your award.well deserved!