My birthday started off on a great note: Julien wishing me birthday as soon as I woke up and then going down to fix breakfast for me. After I ate and opened my presents, Julien, Madame la Maman, and I went to Minerve, a village in the, wait for it, Minervois. The area is rather arid, more Mediterranean than the northern side of the Black Mountains where Madame la Maman lives, and is known for some good wine. We stopped to take a photo of the village:
And I found a fig tree not ten paces farther down the road, which set the tone for the rest of the day. In a word, gourmandise!
We walked the streets of the tiny village, harvested two pomegranates (sadly not ripe) on the ancient ramparts, and ate at a restaurant called Chantovent. Very tasty food, even if the duck was a bit overcooked. Note to self: The best-cooked duck breast is the duck you cook yourself. Quit ordering it at restaurants!
With tummies full, we went for a walk through the vineyards and thyme-and-fennel covered hills. The air was rich with the perfume of fig trees and sun-warmed herbs. We gorged on grapes, figs, and blackberries (a bit bland this late in the season), nibbled on fennel flowers and sprigs of thyme, and munched on almonds straight off the trees.
We weren't sure our feet could drag our bellies all the way to the dolmen that was our sort-of goal (the suggested itinerary was 4hrs/12km long, but it was too hot and late in the day to hope to finish it all. We settled for the easier part of 1.75hrs and 8.5km), but make it we did.
On the way back, I found this little critter. Isn't she cool?
We couldn't leave the Minervois without buying some wine, but because all the winegrowers are in the middle of the grape harvest, we had a hard time finding an open cellar. We finally found one outside the village of La Caunette, where I spied these fellas in the fennel plants:
In fact, they were everywhere in the field. The winegrower said they cluster together like that on the plants because of the drought and their need to find any and every drop of moisture they can.
After such strenuous, filling adventures, I was happy to sit in the passenger seat, watching the forest rush by as Julien hurried us back home...
All in all, a very good day, and we have a full fruit basket to show for it. :D