The stone bridge in Sauveterre de Bearn, one of our 3 day stopovers

Cows at about 1500 metres elevation in the Pyrenees.

You may recall that we started our driving tour in the city of Nice which is situated in the extreme south-eastern corner of France. This put us on on the Mediterranean Sea close to the Italian Border near Cannes and in the area known as the French Riviera. Our plan was to keep within the lower 20% of France whilst driving ever westwards towards the south-western coastline of France near the Spanish on the Atlantic Ocean. It's been bothering Brian that we forgot to explain that in Page 1 of this newsletter but least we've addressed it now.

It has taken us just over two weeks to explore first Provence and then the Languedoc region of France. We are now in the Pyrenees region and roughly two thirds of the way across to the west coast. The idea is to spend three nights each in two different towns in this region and from there take day trips up into the massive Pyrenees mountain range which serves as the border between France and Spain. The photos on this page have all been taken in and around the Pyrenees region.

One of many passes (cols) we negotiated in the Pyrenees.

This goose still had his liver. Nasty personality but liver still intact.

Sleepy cows in the fog, high up in the Pyrenees Mountains

Noisy excited supporters about to board bus to the district Rugby final.

We enjoyed a good lunch in a restaurant perched over this stream

A pretty scene in a town whose name we've forgotten

Rugby Union is the dominant football code in this portion of France and the supporters seem quite fanatical about the game. A few times we have committed the cardinal error of using the generic term "football" and "footballers" as we might in Australia. This has brought a strong response, "non, non, monsieur, we play rugby, not football here....". We've made the Aussie mistake of forgetting that in Europe football is soccer and soccer is football.

One Sunday morning we were strolling around the almost deserted small village of Sauvetairre de Bearn when we heard a huge ruckus in and around a Bar on the edge of the square near the church. A group of about 60 villagers were already mildly inebriated and waiting to board a rented bus to take them to the regional rugby final. Apparently this was the first time the village had made the Final and everyone was hyped up big time. All were dressed in club colours, yelling, singing and waving large appropriate flags whilst they worked themselves up into a frenzy. They also had every manner of noise making device known to man including trumpets, clackers and even an old wind-up World War 2 air raid siren mounted on a portable frame.

High in the Pyrenees. Lynn failed to coax Brian to show off his yodelling

Not exactly tee shirt weather on this mountain pass. A grudging pose.  

We were surprised to see so many snowy mountains in mid June.

We had a lovely stroll around  this village on a brilliantly sunny day

These sheep appeared from nowhere and brought us to a complete stop

Estate of Edmund Rostand,
author of satirical book "Cyrano de Bergerac"

We walked into a small square and bumped into this Basque band

Lynn sampled lots of different dried hams from this Basque jambon van

A very small 12th century church in Audressian

Statue of  St Joan of Arc in adjacent church

We are now well into the "Basque Region" of France where most of the natives locals speak Basque as the first and preferred tongue although they are all equally proficient in French. Although the French Basque people want their own independent status we formed the strong impression that the French Basques are a lot happier and less radical than the Spanish Basque people on the other side of the Pyrenees. Nevertheless they advertise, promote and display their "Basqueness" in every conceivable way.

As for the local French folks without any Basque heritage, they seem to tolerate this over the top "basqueness" but in a mildly snooty way.