Sunday, 20 June 2010

Last Evening in Aups

Last evening in Aups

 A wander around the old town of Aups with its 14 fountains and washing places, currently used to hang around and chat when the weather allows, which is fortunately this evening  These clean water vessels were built in response to terrible plagues and La Peste.  Consequently water, water everywhere!  Because of this abundance, Aups formerly boasted six tanneries, five potteries, sawmills, silk worm producers, a lavender distillery, turpentine factory, hat and knife manufacturers. Historically not dependent on tourism, and it still has a thriving community which is open to tourism but not totally taken over by it, as I understand some towns are.
Typically French, the recommended restaurant was closed and didn’t open until later in June, so we opted for the Grand Hotel, which far from being “Grand” was informal, friendly and served great food.  Three different menus ranging from 15-25 euros, and although a bit nervous after the tete de veau incident last year, we needn’t have worried.  But what is “brouillard” , a “jarret du porc”, a “pastilla” of lapin. We were no wiser when the pleasant waitress explained!  But the octopus casserole (daube de poulpet), brouillard aux asperges (asparagus scrambled eggs), followed by rabbit with plum jam in filo parcel ( pastille de lapin au confit de pruneaux) and Jarret du porc (pork “shank”) were superb, and the apple pie was “impeccable”!  Never eaten rabbit before, but I’ll be having it again!
We sat under the oldest plane tree I’ve ever seen, 400yrs old and there are 69 plane trees in total, giving shade to the quaint little “place”.
The following day began bright and sunny for a change. I walked into town for milk, baguette and paper.  Beginning to feel at home here, and the campsite’s superbly situated close to the town.   There’s an imposing Poids Publique for weighing harvests.   Definitely coming back here again.
Back to van and off to what will be the first stage of Ian’s cycle from Nice to Geneva.
We make our way towards Nice through the devastated Draguignan.  No, we’re not gawping, but the arterial route runs right through the town, and has to be shepherded by  a myriad of police and aid staff.  We slowly pick our way through piled up cars, remains of trees, piles of mud and silt, and take care around sections of road and bridges washed away by the flood waters.  It really is a mess and it’ll take months to sort out. 
The Var-Matin paper confirms that 25 are dead and another 14 disappeared.  A couple in the 80s in Draguignan were reportedly seen stranded in their allotment, and they held hands and plunged into the river together, when they realised that there was no way out, with powerless neighbours looking on!  How terrible!
 We make our way to the suburb in Nice called Cagne-sur-Mer, to a campsite called La Riviere.  In spite of its more remote location, the campsite is very friendly and helpful, and even more importantly it has a big TV to watch England play Algeria!0-0

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