20240401 – Palavas le Flots



A lovely sunny day.

A real treat for Wendy as we go to biggest supermarket we’ve ever seen. It sold every thing from washing machines, mops to melons and freshly made paella. Well not quite everything, no fresh figs, American Cream Soda or Aix en Provence red wine. Soon get lost as I wander off to explore the wines.

In the afternoon we drive over to Lunel to watch the bullfight.

Try finding our seat at the arena. Assistants are useless, they don’t know where R3_1195 is. It bears no relation to the letters A to P on the entrances. There’s pictures of flags galore around the arena but no seat numbers. Just another excess of stupidity. You really couldn’t make this shit up.

Really enjoyed the Course Camarguaise, I think for Wendy it fell into the same category as a Rodeo, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.

Then it’s home, Pork meatballs for tea. Alas no wine.

trivia header


From spring through to autumn, on the golden sand of Arles’ arena and in each Camargue village, an impassioned and knowledgeable crowd is gathered. Razeteurs (Camargue bullfighters) come head-to-head with Camargue bulls in this chivalrous game that requires such values as loyalty and valour from both Man and beast.

Skill and agility, along with a mutual re-spect, are key to the Camargue bullfight.

Unlike with corridas (Spanish bullfights) which show the matador’s name in big letters, post-ers publicising the course Camarguaise puts the bull’s name before that of the razeteur.

The name of the manade (farm) from which the bull comes is also given. The true star of the show is really the bull! From fight to fight, his qualities bring him glory and make him a sought-after animal, guaranteeing some very action-packed afternoons!

As for the razeteurs, they are just support acts, their fame being based on the reputation of the bull that they are facing. No blood is spilled in the Camargue bullfight; the Camargue bull does not come to kill, unlike his Spanish cousin! When this bull kills, which unfortunately can happen, his name is scratched from all lists!

It is around the age of three that a bull is at the peak of his “training” and knows his “profession” well. This is the one that that breeder saves for the end of the show, allowing the younger and less experienced bulls to go first so as to learn how to avoid the traps set by the razeteurs. It is this which gives the fight its crescendo intensity and helps to recognise future “hopefuls”, be they bulls or razeteurs.

The clash of Man and beast in the ring requires much cunning from both parties. The organis-ers coordinate six bulls for one afternoon. The bulls take turns to enter the ring for a few minutes; just enough time to contend with several skilled and energetic razeteurs.

The razeteurs compete against one another to remove, as quickly as possible, the objects placed between the bull’s horns. These are strings, tassels and a cockade which each earn the razeteur a cash prize upon removing it.

But, before cutting and removing each of the objects with his four-bladed hook, he must first tire the bull, which, with good strong legs, often chases the razeteurs right up to the barrier. This results in the razeteurs throwing themselves several feet in the air over the barriers in order to escape the sharp and powerful horns. Sometimes, the particularly agile bulls will also jump over the barriers, making the event even more dramatic and emotional, especially for those lucky specta-tors in the first row!

At the end of each round to signify the end of combat, the famous aria from the opera Car-men is played.

Every year, the “golden rosette” in the Arles arena gathers the elite of the course Camar-guaise. At the end of this prestigious after-noon, the highly coveted rosette is awarded, honouring the work of the breeder and recog-nising the bravery of the best razeteur of the year. This razeteur, in addition to receiving the praise of the tradition’s professionals and the people of Arles, is allowed to kiss the always beautiful Queen of Arles.


Today’s jaunt is a bull fight in the Camargue (Courses Camarguaises) unlike the gratuitous cruelty, bloodshed and violence of a Spanish bull fight, not a drop of the bulls blood is spilt. More likely that the guys in white bleeds. Quite spectacular.



Ban the burka




Sadly another French Airbnb with parking designed to try the patience of a saint, not something I’m known for, and the need for a car the size of a Bubble Car. Sadly we have the misfortune to have an internal garage. The problem is reversing into it is a nightmare. It doesn’t have to be but they have some stupid barriers in place that serve absolutely no purpose other than making it inch by inch impossible to easily reverse in. No chance to drive in. Yet another example of sublime French stupidity. There really is no sense to it.


Another sunny day in the mid 60’s. Very lazy morning.

Enjoy the sun on the balcony then after lunch and a small glass of wine we have a stroll around Palavas. Stop for a drink, I finally get a Pastiche while Wendy has a very nice Cognac.

Paella for tea and some more wine.


Sat on the balcony watching the seagull gracefully glide on the air currents, not a wing flap needed.




Islamist dickhead


A corkscrew.

If the French still insist upon their silly corks you would think that in the hundreds of years bottling wine they could at least create a corkscrew that works with ease. Alas not so, the corkscrew in this apartment doesn’t work. Stupidity rules yet again.


Lovely sunny and warmish start to the day. We could have breakfast on the balcony it’s that warm and best of all no breeze.

Have a drive over to Le Grande Motte for a stroll around and a spot of lunch. They have Scallops (Coquille Saint-Jacques) on the menu so even I am tempted for lunch. They’re not bad, not as big as the American ones and have an orange bit to them. If I wake up dead tomorrow everyone will know why. Wendy settles for a chicken burger and chips, it was a croc of shit.

Then it’s a trip to that awesome, cavernous supermarket. We pass on the fridges and washing machines and just settle for wine, fish and steaks. I try a Teille for tonight’s tea. As it’s our wedding anniversary we treat ourselves to a bottle of Cognac to sip on our sunny balcony – cheaper than in a bar.

trivia header

Great scallop (Coquille Saint-Jacques) or Pecten maximus, common names the great scallop, king scallop, St James shell or escallop, is a northeast Atlantic species of scallop, an edible saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Pectinidae. This is the type species of the genus. This species may be conspecific with Pecten jacobaeus, the pilgrim’s scallop, which has a much more restricted distribution.

Saint-Jacques Shells (last letters “t” and “s” are not pronounced), or the great scallop, is a first choice dish in France. It is nutritionally interesting (proteins, vitamins, trace elements) without a lot of calories: only 50 Kcal/100g (not counting any sauce you might add).

Tips for Eating Saint-Jacques Shells:

Our kitchen.

Here are the main tips you should utilise to choose and cook the right Saint-Jacques and enjoy the taste!
All scallops are not real Saint-Jacques! To enjoy the real Saint-Jacques Shells or great scallops, you have to choose them carefully.
– Firstly, the period of the year if you want to buy them fresh is from October to mid-May.
– Secondly, the species: the real one is Pecten maximus caught mostly in Normandy (Protected Geographical Indication: Coquille Saint-Jacques des Côtes d’Armor) and Brittany in France. You’ll find also Pecten jacobaeus in the Mediterranean area and Pecten fumatus in Australia.
– Be careful! The label of Saint-Jacques can be also be given to other products of the pectinidae family from Canada, Chili, Chine, etc. But it is not the same seafood: the shells are different and they don’t belong to the same genus.
-It’s common to say that the tastier is the Pecten maximus and I agree more than never!

our bedroom.

How to choose them fresh? Take care of the aspect and the smell (iodine only). The shell should be closed or should close itself quickly if you touch it. Sometimes the fishmonger will sell them already without the shell. The white part should be pearly, the coral should be shiny and bulging. No part should touch the ice, it spoils the flesh.

It’s just question of presentation. In France one of the best recipes with great scallops is Saint-Jacques gratinées: great scallop with other seafood or mushroom, a sauce, and breadcrumbs presented in their shells after a quick moment in the oven.

Modern art in the apartment!

Raw or cooked? It can easily be eaten raw: tartare, carpaccio are very simple to do and flavourful. Scallops should be very fresh and not served to pregnant women. If you cook them, the cooking of the scallop has to be short. Otherwise you will lose consistency and taste.

With or without coral? The coral is the orange part of the scallop, it’s the female sexual organ and gets bigger with the development of the eggs. You can cook it with the white part of the scallop and present them together which gives the best visual effect to your dish. Some people doesn’t find any interest in the coral, they don’t like the consistency and the taste is less strong than the white part of the scallop. So they separate them and use the coral to make a tasty orange sauce or chantilly.
And what to drink? As with other seafood, it is recommended to choose a mineral white wine. But you can also enjoy champagne when preparing them raw or a fruity dry white wine for rich sauces, and a light red wine for seafood/meat combinations.

Recognisable at first glance: meaty, pearly white, almost translucent, with lovely orange coral the ideal size and above all the unique glow of vitality.

The presence of the roe or “coral” is guaranteed  and enhances the dish with a lovely touch of orange. Its taste is also highly prized.

Pecten maximus frequently creates a slight hollow in the substrate for its shell to lie in by opening and closing the valve to eject water from the mantle cavity, which raises the shell at an angle to the substrate so that subsequent water jets into the sediment and create a recess. Once settled, sand, mud, gravel or living organisms coat the upper valve, and the margin of the shell, with the tentacles and eyes, is all that is visible. They are filter feeders which extract particles from the surrounding water via a feeding current which is drawn by cilia across the gills where the food particles are trapped, then taken to the mouth in a stream of mucous.

Pecten maximus swims but this is generally limited to escape reactions. The main predators which cause this reaction when detected are the mollusc eating starfish Asterias rubens and Astropecten irregularis, although starfish which do not feed on molluscs can cause limited jumping or valve-closing reactions. The swimming action is performed by rapidly clapping the valves and expelling jets of water from each side of the hinge so that it moves with the curved edge of the shell at the front. The scallop jumps forwards by gradually relaxing the adductor muscle and then rapidly opening and closing the valves.

The oil company Shell plc derives its highly recognizable logo from this species.[17]

Yes, you can eat scallops raw to enjoy the natural flavors of the sea. However, you should only eat raw scallops at specialty restaurants or if you manage to buy fresh, dry scallops that aren’t harvested in contaminated water. NOW THEY TELL ME.


It’s our wedding anniversary, for the first time ever I forgot, not that we ever buy cards or presents anymore. That’s what 53 years does for you. Quite an achievement in this day and age.






Does France have a national problem with bad eyesight.Judging by the number of Optician shops I think the whole population must have eyesight problems. Perhaps that explains why they drive up my backside, perhaps they can’t see me until they’re 10 centimeters away or they’re try to read my number plate.


Another sunny day so it’s a stroll around Palavas and the beach, followed by a somewhat dubious beer.


A pleasant stroll along the beach reveals some pleasant sites. Topless bathing in France lives on. Hallelujah. I think in this instance we should thank the skill of a plastic surgeon and the benefits of silicon engineering.

At least I did the chivalrest thing and resisted taking a photo.






The second law of Thermodynamics, “Entropy tends towards infinity or put another way – “Eventually everything turns to shit” – explains so much of the daily shit and stupidity we encounter, a lot of it aided by incompetent software. The joys of so much stupidity in the world and living in a kakistocracy.


Another warm sunny day.

Drive to Perols to catch the tram into Montpellier.

Go for coffee at MacDonalds in the Egg but the queue is just too long. Settle for a tad more expensive cafe. Sit enjoying the sun and people watching.

Have a saunter around the shops and then it’s back on the tram to the car. Followed by a treat for Wendy to that ginormous Carrefour supermarket in Perot’s

Another quiet evening in watching more crap on TV and sipping Cognac.


Really have to admire the efficiency of the tram system.






Montpelier has a superb modern tram system that’s great. Problem is try buying a ticket for it. Me and a French geezer tried it. Nothing seemed to work. French geezer gave up and declared it “hours de service”, roughly translated “kaput”. I eventually got it working, a classic example of and utterly crap Human Computer Interface.Button on the touch screen doesn’t work, button below does.

Way back in 2009 we had a similar problem in Montpelier, except this time the sun shone on the screen and made it unreadable.

Who are these 10 year old simpletons that design them and worse still who are the managers that sign off on them. Has no one in France heard of use-ability testing.

Another day in France and the stupidity continues.


Warm and sunny again. A Leisurely morning relaxing on the balcony.

After Wendy’s lunch we take a leisurely stroll around Palavas. What a treat, in honor of Dylan I even stop for a beer, sadly they have no decent German beers or even decent French ones – a bit of a contradiction in terms.

Back home for a Cognac and of course a cup of tea.

Get everything packed ready for departure tomorrow.






Well it’s good to see Blackburn excel at something!

Blackburn has been named the vape capital of the UK, with nearly 22.56 e-cigarette shops per 100,000 people.

The former mill town came just above Bolton and Manchester, which had 20.26 and 19.84 vape shops per 100,000 people respectively.


Up early and ready for a 10:00 departure

Richard, our caretaker comes round to let us out. Yes, the locks, doors and parking is so complicated we cannot escape without help.

It’s a +2 hour drive up to our next stopover in Toulouse. We decided not to bother trying to explore the city centre so opted for an Ibis on the outskirts. What a mistake. Another underground rathole to park in. This time they are tight even one of those street scooters would struggle. The single slots are just 10cm wider than my car. How to scrape the paint off your car. You really need to have the roof down to climb in without opening a door. More French stupidity. Bugger that for a game of marbles, find a double slot and occupy both of them.

The room is similar to the parking, not enough room to swing a rat around in. Cancel our future Ibis stay in Rennes, cross them off our approved list.

There’s hardly anywhere open around the hotel apart from a bakers. Get some sandwiches and cake for tonights tea.

Later I discover a cafe that’s open about 15 minutes away. Wander round and treat myself to a beer. It was disgusting.


Today’s delight was Richard. He’s our caretaker and has let us in, looked after any problems during our stay and today let us out. He doesn’t speak a word of English but seems to be able to cope with my awful French words thrown together with not a moments consideration of grammar, word sex or verb conjugation. He’s a lovely chap so amiable. Started our stay with a bottle of Red Wine and ended with a fridge magnet for Wendy, showing our penthouse. A real delight and yes he’s French, 76 years old and born in Toulouse.




Free speech is sacred


It’ Toulouse. It’s France. It’s Sunday. And of course it’s closed. The problem is figuring out when they can bother opening.
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