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France

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-- From 2014/07/21 to 2014/07/28
-- En route to Collioure & the border of Spain

The day of the departure had arrived; after the final preparations on Sunday, July 20 I gave up the Thébaïde Villa in Peical without regrets, happy to take the road again.

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The GPS road tracklog
From Trans to Collioure
From 21/07/2014 to 28/07/2014

Martigues

I arrived at Psi-Azalaï around 9 a.m. The faulty compressor since Friday the 18th /07 during a test of the board to raise the jack, was dismounted. But no possibility for repairing it. It was decided to return it to the supplier, to follow at the end of August. I will make the raid of Transpyrenean without being able to deflate then to reflate the tires when necessary. Other repairs were in particular carried out the installation of two footboards of cabin. I left Martigues around 15:30 to stop at St Mitre- les-remparts on a car park close to the edge of the Pond of Berre. The day was very windy without excessive heat.

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Saint-Mitre-les-Remparts

Saint-Mitre-les-remparts preserved the ramparts of the 15th century. The narrow streets of the Middle Ages paved of new lead to the church Saint-Blaise and capped Saint-Mitre of a bell-tower of the 17th century. Balcony, closed with key, through the grid a splendid view on the pond of Pourra. Under the balcony the fountain of the three guns dating back to 1654 feeds the joint launderette. I walked in this marvelous village of Provence alas spoiled by the anarchistic parking of the native cars. Away from the ramparts a windmill, entirely restored, throne on a small square arranged in car park.

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Windmill

St Blaise

Before the village of Saint-Blaise, the eponymous archeological site accommodates the visitors on a vast car park dominating the pond of Lavalduc, idyllic bivouac. Alas when I presented myself to the entry gate, it was closed. Seeing a car stationed inside, I called to announce my presence. A man came to me and explained me that the sub-prefecture had closed the park due to strong wind for unlimited duration! Outside the enclosure the vault Saint-Blaise dates from the 12th-13th centuries. It is preceded by the foundations of an early Christian church dating from the 5th-8th centuries.

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Map of the site
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Miramas-le-Vieux

Miramas-le-Vieux dominates the pond of Berre, museum city without tourists in this very windy time, it preserved the ruins of a castle of the 13th century and splendid stone-built houses giving it an admirable unit of architecture. Alas there too the autochthones park their vehicles according to their goodwill!

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Stair-well
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False "Modigliani"

Cornillon-Confoux

Cornillon-Confoux, a little further on D 70, has a church of Roman style of Provence with a bell-tower out of comb with modern stained glasses by Fédérique Duran. But since the beginning of this tour, all the buildings have closed door. Outside one of the eleven statues of the pregnant Virgin existing in France. The town hall is installed in a castle of the 12th century.

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St Chamas

Saint-Chamas at the edge of the pond taking a ferry of Berre has a Flavien bridge, 1st century, preceded by two majestic gates with wind mills animated by the unchained wind.

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Then I crossed the Camargue by taking a ferry of Barquarin at Salin of Giraud to join Montpellier where I had appointment at SudCom for installations of my equipment radio ham. I bivouacked close to a retail park on an old section of road. The first part of the day was rich in peaceful visits, I feared the crowd of the tourists. The second part I used the long straight road in Camargue where I will pass again at the return of the Pyrenees.

Montpellier

As of 8 a.m. 30 I was at SudCom. Mr Montariol expected me and greeted me cordially. He undertook at once small work of my list. They were essentially defects related to the materials in particular connections which do not resist the vibrations. I benefitted from it to acquire a powerful WiFi antenna. I left SudCom around eleven hours to make locations in Montpellier which I would visit on my return. I stationed the truck on the car park of Auchan near the stopping of the tram, station Parc Expo; twenty minutes later I was at the St Roch train station at a crow fly from the famous Place of the Comedy. At the Tourist office I took a city plan as well as tram. Then I strolled some time on the city tour proposed by the Green Guide. Indeed the city appeared rich in historical monument, to consume without moderation. I returned to the car park of the station Parc Expo where I arrived around 3 p.m.

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Abbey of Valmagne

The purpose of the end of the afternoon consisted in visiting the Abbey of Valmagne close to Pézenas. I like to visit the old places of the catholic worship impresses plenitude and of clean wisdom at rest and to the meditation in these times without moral reference marks and of loss of the historical values of France. It founded at the 12th century and was built out of pink stone. It is marked by the vicissitudes of the French history, wars of religion, without forgetting the French Revolution. The abbey church is flanked of two imposing square towers giving on the narthex decorated with sculptures in contradiction with the Cistercian rule. I rested in the vast nave on standby to intend to resound of the Gregorian chants. As in all the Cistercian abbeys the Virgin with the Child was in majesty in the apse. The gilded stone cloister is illuminated by the light of end of the afternoon. The chapter house is decorated between the posts with marble vases. But unquestionably of all the abbeys of the south of France the wash-hand basin is the most sumptuous part; it is of octagonal shape capped with posts ribbed with a central key. The bell-tower was restored in the year 2000. I was lucky to be alone during my long visit out the chatter and the squawking of tourists. With the agreement of the den mother appointed at ticketing I bivouacked on the car park.

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Béziers

The 9 locks in Fonséranes

A few kilometers from Béziers in the suburbs the site of UNESCO of the 9 locks attract the tourists. This work of the Channel of the South makes it possible the boats to cross uneven of 25 meters on a distance of 312 meters. Seven are still in work. The Channel of the South is due to the eagerness of Pierre Paul Riquet in 1662. From Toulouse to the pond of Thau it is 240 km lengh with 91 locks. Built for 30 m length boats he lives to pass the last barge in 1989. Since placed at the world heritage of UNESCO he is traversed by river tourism.

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Abbey of Fontcaude

Close to Cazouls the Abbey of Fontcaude was devoted to Sainte Catherine and the order of Prémontré. It was a stage on one of the many straps of the Way of Saint-Jacob de Compostelle. Of course it undergoes the vicissitudes of the history in particular following the heresy of Vaud and of the French Revolution. It remains little of thing of the buildings, the apse of the abbey church arched in half dome, a foundry of bell as well as a oil mill. The museum exhibits fragments of capitals of which one tells the martyr of Holy Catherine.
Still an abbey, with due respect to the faultfinders Catholicism forms integral part of our values. Jack Lang, Minister for the Culture under Mitterrand gave Régis Debray, intellectual of left wind, a request for the introduction of the study of the Religious Facts into the course of the high-school pupils. No panic I have still abbeys to visit before crossing the Spanish border and well of others in Spain.

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Oppidum of Ensérune

Close to Colombiers on a spur dominating the pond of Montady drained in 1247, the tunnel of Malpas and the old Domitian way Oppidum of Ensérune testifies to our ancestors the Gaul people before the Roman conquests. Several civilizations followed one another from 6th to 4th centuries there before our era. Town planning already was very developed with paved streets, sewers, grain silos as well as cisterns and a water tower. The museum gathers objects discovered on the spot, potteries, currencies and sculptures. This visit is highly advisable to understand our civilisationnal values. I bivouacked on a area in the field of the Castle of Lastours.

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Château de Lastours

I was accommodated very courteously at the Castle of Lastours. Jean-Michel, a 4x4 certified instructor, made me a presentation in a classroom of the various techniques of the four-wheel vehicles as well as good use of the differential interlocks central, back and front. His matched teaching with the control of his art taught me all the aspects of off-road driving. The field of the 4x4 tracks is the vastest in Europe; the car makers come to develop their last creation there. Thus this Friday Peugeot was present in a part out of the view of journalists and tourists for clarification of the vehicle taking part in the raid of Dakar in January 2015. It was not without apprehension that I began the driving school but Jean-Michel could put to me in confidence by his enlightened councils. During the day I traversed approximately 25 km during five hours. Of course this training was not without error, the experiment is acquired as a practitioner. I finished the day harassed. I returned to the bivouac of the previous day at the entrance of field around 6 p.m.

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Carcassonne

Not being very long way from Carcassonne I decided to see the famous walls and the Comtal castle restored by Viollet-le-Duc. Without this disputed restoration there would remain nothing. I arrived as of 8:30 to see the morning light on the stained glasses of the Basilica St-Nazaire. They are splendid, but do not show anything in pictures. By waiting of the opening, 10:00 a.m. of the Comtal castle, I strolled in the lanes of the old city. The City of Carcassonne is to the civil and military architecture what the Mount-St-Michel is to the religious architecture, a very profitable trap for tourist. At the opening of the ticketing of the Castle a compacts crowd was massed; the prospect for having to follow it to the queue in the rooms I gave up to seeing it. I become allergic to tourist crowd. After food shopping at the Casino supermarket I took again the road to go to see the last abbey before entering Spain.

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Abbey of Fontfroide

The abbey of Fontfroide close to Narbonne, after the usual mistakes of the history, was saved in extremis in 1908 by the Fayet family who purchased it before an American made it destroy stone by stone then to rebuild it in the USA. The altruistic patronage exists with due respect to the despisers of any hair. Admittedly Fayet were enlightened art lovers. Moreover the restoration testifies with sumptuous stained glasses by Richard Burgstahl little in keeping with the Cistercian rule. I only sauntered during nearly two hours in the buildings dating from 12th and 13th century. To put me in environment I listened while driving the Gregorian chant recorded at the abbey of Fontcaude.

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Collioure

On Sunday, July 27 I discovered Collioure by the road of the cornice; it was 9:30 am. I turned in vain in this coastal village looking for a parking space, nothing for the motor homes. All were complete and moreover they are provided with a horizontal bar with a 2-meter vertical clearance. At the entry a panel gives the direction to a car park of unballasting with a free shuttle; but the car park is not, I paid 15€ for one hour 30 of parking. This time was used to go to Tourist Office and to take two pictures. The city is completely dedicated to tourism of paid vacations. Despite everything I learned that there was a shopping center in Taxo and that a pharmacy was opened in Argeles. Indeed the pharmacy of Trans-in-Provence had not wanted to give me my cocktail of 9 medicines, the deadline of 21 days had not fallen. Alas after a one hour of waiting due to the queue on the pavement of pharmacy the waitress announced to me that it missed four drugs which will be delivered the following day on Monday as from 3 p.m. At the beginning of afternoon I decided to go to a camp-site close to the Intermarket. It was a Sunday… without interest.

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