A couple of years ago I decided to call in at the Olive Moulin situated on a little side road off the road between Bessan and St Thibery.

What a surprise – acres of olive trees and in the centre a large new building where you can see a display of how olive oil is made and an extensive shop with every type of product made from olives that you can think of. It is a great place to sample the different types of olives and the different flavours according to how they are treated. Well worth a visit.

Gorge d’Héric

On our last visit, we headed off to the Gorge d’Héric as we had heard about the spectacular walking trails through the area. Wonderful scenery and a wide range of trails allow you to choose between a full circuit over the top of the adjacent Col de Bartouyre and back through the Gorge (approx 5 hrs), or a more sedate stroll up the Gorge riverside. This trail is well signposted and features a moderate gradient up through the valley with many swimming holes and diversions along the way, as far as the Refuge d’Heric at the head of the river.

This lovely area is just over an hour’s drive from Marseillan and you need to head inland from Beziers, through Roquebrun and on to Mons. There is ample parking at the base of the Gorge, plus a small café.

Driving in France

France is amazingly strict about using mobile phones when travelling. No phone usage at all when travelling, and you can even be fined if you pull in to the side of the road to take a call! If you want to use your phone when travelling you need to be off a public road altogether – try a petrol station or a parking area if you want to avoid a fine.

It is commonly said that the French make more rules than any other country, then totally ignore them. This seems pretty correct when it comes to exceeding the speed limit, especially on motorways – just recently a driver was stopped for travelling at 247 kph! There has been a lot of anger that local roads around France (as against motorways and national roads) are about to have a trial period of being reduced to 80 kph, down from 90 kph. If it reduces the road toll then the change will be made permanent. In some areas, the local bureaucrats are unwilling to change their signage during the trial period, so while the new limit is still enforceable, the signage remains at the old limit – it pays to check before you head out!

Manhole covers

Some clever entrepreneur started a craze in Europe for photographing old manhole covers and printing the designs on T-shirts. There are some great covers in the village – here’s a photo below of an example that I took last year.

Pézenas and the All Blacks

I got a shock when strolling through my favourite town last September – there was a whole shop devoted entirely to selling All Black gear. I took several photos outside the shop, but when I tried to take a photo inside of a whole array of All Black jerserys, I was chased out by a very indignant proprietor – not sure why!
This was around the World Cup time and when I went to Carcassonne a few weeks later, I found another similar shop doing great business. Amazing!

View from the summit of the Col de Bartouyre

One of the many swimming holes along the Heric River

The ancient village of Douch