There are tortoises in the hills! This enormous one is not a local, however, and was snapped at a wonderful and very educational Tortoise Valley park.
The area is Catalan, which means that the culture and language are almost as much Spanish as they are French. There are many abbeys and other buildings from the religious or military history of the kingdoms which once held sway in Roussillion.Many of the buildings are stone, which is a change for those of us who live on the clay plains around the red brick city of Toulouse!Broken pieces of old tile or brick, possibly even Roman, are used as decoration in the pointing around the stones in some towns.
We camped in Arles sur Tech, which had a major abbey in medieval times.
Metal-rich lands were given to the abbeys, making them very wealthy, and the ironworkers made gifts of their talents to the abbey, such as this 16th century wrought iron cross.
Here is a modern gift to the abbey, made once a year by local villagers. Can you guess what it is made of? The wildlife was varied and beautiful.
On the coastal hills, I found scabious, which is one of my favourite flowers.
In the mountains, Ben spotted this typically Pyrenean pink.
And now to the sea, with the new masks, snorkels and flippers! The boys had a wonderful time: chased fish, saw live sea urchins and swam really well - it's clear that buying the pool has really increased their confidence.
Raja was, sadly, unconvinced by the whole business of sea bathing. When we were on isolated beaches where dogs were allowed, she swam a little but then took up position near (or preferably on) our towels and clothes, and looked slightly resentful.
However, as a whole, she settled well into the holiday and enjoyed lots of attention from the whole family. Her coat is glossy and she put on weight, which she probably needed! It was a great holiday...
Tomorrow I will show you the two gleanings I managed from a troc shop in the valley where we camped. Nothing truly brocante, but a bit of a nice vintage feel, and very French...
Laura over at 52 Flea is having an incredible giveaway, or, as she calls it, a giveback. She is offering to be a personal shopper for the winner, at a fantastic antiques fair - if you know her wonderful taste, you will jump at this offer!