Friday, 20 November 2015

A new home near Castries - Camping Le Fondespierre

The peace at Camping Le Fondespierre is pretty much only broken by the
Castries aqueduct 
dropping of nuts! Oaks, pines and olive trees are here in abundance, and we are glad that we have learned not to pitch up directly under them! No one needs to be woken by the midnight clatter of acorns! The olive trees especially are reminding me of our first winter away two years ago and visiting Rudy and Annick's campsite at Beira Marvao, Portugal. I saw on Facebook recently that they have brought in their olive harvest.

Stone cross outside Camping Le Fondespierre 
Pitches here vary widely in size and shape. Ours is nicely sheltered, but I am not sure we have room to put up the awning. There's a good range of facilities - outdoor gym, table tennis, kids play area and a bouledrome. Most of the shower block is closed off for the winter, however the small room where the winter showers are located has a fantastically efficient heater. I saw mention of a library on the website, but haven't spotted it yet. The bar-pizza area also looked closed up yesterday and I guess any books would be in there. Perhaps an influx of campers for Le Weekend will open the doors? Camping Le Fondespierre is one of the pricier ones at €17.10 per night with our ACSI card and wifi is €10 for three days. I saw this stone cross outside the campsite entrance and we assumed it must be a war memorial. However the base isn't engraved with any names so now we aren't sure quite why it is there.

Yesterday afternoon we took advantage of a quiet back road into the nearest town, Castries, and cycled there for a quick shopping trip. It's a little hilly, but we managed! The supermarket is a Casino which has an odd range of products. I am hoping to visit the large greengrocers next door on our next trip as well as making use of the local butcher and bakers. I wonder when the weekly market is ... ?

Camping Le Fondespierre is located within woodlands that are laced with
walking and mountain biking tracks. Our two hour wander today was reminiscent of Spanish walks again with dusty, stony paths, but also unmistakably French sights such as this avenue of trees. We also found a short section of the incredible aqueduct pictured at the top of this post and below. It was designed by Pierre-Paul Riquet - the same engineer who created the Canal Du Midi - and built between 1670 and 1676, although we have seen a couple of online sources claiming it to be Roman. At almost 7km long, the Castries aqueduct is the largest such structure in France to have been built for an individual person, rather than a municipality. It's only function was to transport water to Castries Chateau! Entirely built from local stone, its arches reach up to twenty metres high in places. There is also a short section underground, and the entire aqueduct has a slope of just three metres over the 7km. It certainly was a delightful surprise to suddenly find ourselves beneath a section and then baffling that it vanished, completely obscured by trees, within just a few minutes of walking away.

Castries aqueduct 

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