Our last day in Cuxac we drove the back roads nearby, enjoying the Montagne Noir’s dark forest, rushing mountain streams, waterfalls, and a couple of quaint villages tucked into river gorges. It was a lovely afternoon with Christina, who then had to hurry back to Chez Providence to prepare an evening meal for that night’s guests.
The next morning we packed up and headed southeast. The landscape changes quickly when one leaves the mountains and reaches the plain stretching to the Mediterranean. Vineyards become much larger, olive groves appear, and the landscape takes on more delicate hues. We drove the toll road for a time along the sea to make good time into Provence. Once we reached Montpellier we turned onto secondary roads and followed the coastline. This route took us over estuaries and into some small towns.
The estuaries were dotted with flamingos and other sea birds. Most were too far away to photograph easily, but it’s still thrilling to see them in the wild. Aigues Mortes is an intact large fortified city that sits on the edge of the sea. We didn’t stop, but drove around the outside of the walls. The inside is closed to cars.
Our final stop before reaching our new home was a bird sanctuary in the Camargue National Park. This is a large estuary formed by the delta of the Rhone River. Driving into it we passed fields of marsh grass. Often small herds of the Camargue’s wild horses were grazing among the shrubs. We stopped to photograph one herd that was close to the fence along the road. At the sanctuary we stopped to get a map and talk to the informative man at the ticket booth. Visits to the sanctuary require a ticket while the rest of the Camargue is free access. We want to return to hike the sanctuary trails and see the horses and flamingos.