Sun, sea and a little snow

Cycle path

At first sight of the cycle path today, you would never even know what season it is… it looks sunny and warm, right?

Ha, wrong! Don’t let that sunshine fool you, the temperature was somewhere between 0C and 2C (thats 32F and 35F for Americans!) not counting the wind chill factor, and yesterday’s weather was still on the ground. Yes, an extremely unusual sight for two Aussies still fascinated by this lovely white stuff – snow on the beach. The beach!! I’ve spent half my life on beaches but have never seen one looking like this.

Here are our views from today’s ride along the voie vert between Sete and Marseillan Ville & back, past the (now closed for winter) Castella’s campsite right on the beach…


Castellas Camping in winter Snow on the sandhills Sun, Sea, sand and snow snow at the beach 9 Our of the snow, into the sea Bridge over the Canal du Midi Still cold at the port

and finally, I need a balaclava like TCs – my face was frozen!

snow at the beach 10

I’ll have… snow with that!

Today we saw that there was snow forecast in our region. Now this is very unusual. We live in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France, on the coastal plain not far from the sea, where we have an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. And not much snow.

We scrutinised the forecasts carefully all last night and again this morning. The day dawned grey and a little rainy, but the snow was predicted for the afternoon. Well,  being Australian snow-novices and still very excitable at the prospect of ACTUAL snowflakes falling from the sky, we decided to drive to a village in the foothills rather than sit around to see if there would  be snow in our own village at all. You see our village is close to the sea and we know it is rare that it actually falls here.

So off we set for Bédarieux, about 50km from us.

Passing through Roujan, we saw the light raindrops change to snowflakes and our excitement mounted. By the time we were entering Faugères there was snow on the ground and we were mentally calculating how long it would be before we could make snowballs!

Arriving in Bedarieux

Arriving in Bedarieux

But first, we arrived at our destination at about 1.45pm and being France, we knew if we wanted lunch, we’d better find a restaurant quick-smart. For the uninitiated, in France one eats at meal times and not in between. In small towns and villages, and especially in winter we’ve noticed, this means that if you are not seated at a table between 12 noon and 1.30pm – or 2pm if you are lucky – you may not get to have lunch.

Before lunch - not much snow on the ground

Before lunch – not much snow on the ground

We were lucky today, we found a central restaurant, La Rapier, and yes they were still open for dejeuner (lunch).  The restaurant was good, a fairly typical village restaurant with a selection of menus available. TC ordered a fricasee of vollaile which came with a creamy mushroom sauce, while I had entrecote (grilled steak). Both dishes came with a large serving of chips and lovely tasty haricot plat, or flat green beans. I love beans – and these tasted like they had been cooked with butter and a touch of garlic, delicious. TC’s dish was tasty and my steak was tender and cooked perfectly (à point pour moi, s’il vous plait).

Since Faugères is the home of some nice red wines, we also shared some of that. Well, when in Rome as they say.

After completing our repas with tarte tatins, we were out in the snow, making little snowballs and taking pictures of the beautiful transformed scenery around us.

 Bedarieux after lunch

A little Cupcake pretending to be nonchalant amongst REAL snow!!

It had actually been snowing quite a bit while we had lunch so there was a good covering on everything outside – and it was still falling! Now that we’d satisfied our snow cravings, we got back in the car and headed back home to see if there indeed was snow in our own village too. The scenery was gorgeous and white.

Roads out of Bedarieux

While it looks like the sun might have been out – the ‘shadows’ are just the parts where the snow hasn’t fallen under the trees

Oops, what we didn’t count on was how quickly the roads would turn to slush and ice in this weather! We soon found ourselves in a traffic jam, and after about an hour it appeared that the cause was a broken down car. Once the tow truck left, the traffic started moving again. Unfortunately, we discovered what happens when you are stopped on icy roads for an hour while the snow is still falling and the temperature dropping – yes, TC was having trouble keeping the car straight on the slippery road and just to make it worse, our brakes seemed to have iced up, sending the car into a sideways slide every time we tried to stop.


there had been steady snow while we ate lunch

Oh dear! At one point we gently and gracefully slid over to nudge the guard rail (thanking our lucky stars that there WAS as guard rail at that point!). Thankfully our turnoff was right there and we managed to progress on a much less icy and slippery road for the rest of the very slow journey home. We did continue to enjoy the gorgeous countryside though.


Vines under snow, near Faugeres

Once back in our village, we discovered there had indeed been quite a bit of snow. The streets had become mud-slushies, but the trees, cars and rooftops were all still a pretty white.

snowy rooftops

Rooftop view from my window

Tomorrow the sun will be returning to our village so I’m sure the rooftops will no longer be white in the morning, but we have enjoyed our single day of snow (except for the scary driving parts). Its only supposed to reach about 4C or 5C maximum though, so we’ll be tossing up whether cycling is on the agenda!