Archive for August, 2015

Out in Languedoc

The Domaine’s electric steel door drew to the side with the touch of a button fob and we were out into Languedoc, near Beziers. Beaches, predictable destinations, proved unpopular, with complaints about sand and saltwater rashes on Robin. 

The best watery fun was had on a floating, inflatable obstacle course at Cap d’Agde. For an exhausting hour, the kids, clambered, slid and threw themselves into, along and off bouncy obstacles and into the lagoon. The course was very lightly supervised (although we all wore life-jackets) so everyone helped one another out of the water and back onto the inflatables for another round of charges, leaps and slides. 

We also swam in the fresh water of the River Herault, from the shore at the far side of a lake from Pont de Diable where devil-may-care youngsters plunged 30m from the bridge. Our youngsters liked the thrill of the current that pulled them out of the lake and down the shallow river. 

We did a high trees adventure, again lightly supervised in French style, climbing, balancing and sliding along zip-wires. We knew we had to stay clipped on to the wires, but were left to manage the obstacles at our own pace, without warnings or encouragement. 

With so much to enjoy at our domaine, we stayed within an hour or so of Beziers. Two exceptions were: to visit the Curries’ Proven├žal holiday home and a trip to Carcassonne, the return from which was long and arduous as it coincided with a storm that threw so much water on the road that the lines marking the lanes were hard to see. 

We visited local towns, but two cathedrals in the first three days of the holiday was held against us by Robin. The best trip to a town was to find ice-cream in Beziers. The destination we chose, a bar on a square, serving many flavours of artisanal ices, was a near perfect fulfilment of an admittedly simple need. 

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At Domaine St Pierre-Le-Vieux

The pool was where the kids excelled: diving into the water, hauling themselves out, joking and challenging each other. Allowing a few minutes to dry, then back awkwardly over the gravel without shoes and a dash across the lawn into the apartment to rejoin games and videos on their tablets and phone. Gabe, flat on his bed, with curtains drawn shut; Eliza and Robin sprawling on the sofas, or wedged against a wall where their device was recharging. 

But there was also tennis – mostly for Gabe, Robin and me. Played in the heat of the day, the twilight or the cool approach of a storm. A rotating game of singles, one service game each and a long tie-break if those games were served. At the start of the holiday, Eliza and Robin hunted lizards around the monastery grounds. Eliza built up an unassailable lead. 

Meals also absorbed the hours. Sometimes on the terrace, until we became perhaps complacent about outdoor eating or intolerant of ants dropping from the creepers above. After the evening meal, we played scrabble and more often cards: Liar, Black Two. Gabe could sometimes be persuaded to put down his phone and join us. Robin sometimes had to be persuaded to go to bed to stop his tired incompetence messing up the game. 

It wasn’t holiday euphoria, but a real measure of its worth, that had us all conclude St Pierre-Le-Vieux was our favourite holiday home.