Thursday, 15 December 2016

Thursday 15 December – Toulouse

Where’s Colin? He’s at Camping Le Rupé on the north side of Toulouse (at 43.65604, 1.41607), where (with an ACSI card) it costs €17 per night, plus tourist tax. Last night he was at the Aire at Narbonne (€9, including electric) – another repeat visit from a few weeks back.

Feeling a little under the weather, I couldn’t motivate myself to move to an upright position to pen a blog post last night, so I’ll cover two days in this post.

Winding back to yesterday morning, I greeted the day with a trundle along the seafront at Roses, observing as I went that exercise seems to be quite a normal part of life in Spain. We’ve noted the same in most places that we’ve been: if there’s a walk/cycle way then there will be people out using it, and not just the occasional cyclist and a handful of dog walkers. Yesterday morning the moon had not yet set, the sun was not even giving a hint of orange in the sky to the east, yet non-dog walkers were out in force on the sea-front promenade. When I’m at home, it’s rare to see anyone out on any of my regular routes unless they have dog with them.

The sight of the large moon sinking towards the horizon was far more impressive in reality and this snap makes it look!

The other notable feature of yesterday was prostitutes. Not in Roses, but rather as we drove north out of Spain and into France. We’ve noticed (both on this trip and previously) that whenever you’re driving a non-toll road which runs adjacent to a toll motorway in a rural area, there will be, dotted at regular intervals along it, solo women sitting in chairs (often a plastic garden chair, but sometimes a deckchair, a wooden dining chair or even an armchair) at the roadside, in the middle of nowhere. We’ve only seen it in relatively warm places, but even so, some seem more appropriate dressed for the current temperatures than others. To us, it just seems a bit odd to see such blatant prostitution in broad daylight in such locations.

By the time we got to Narbonne, we had lost the sunny warm weather and accordingly the women sitting on their roadside chairs had dwindled to none. Why back to Narbonne? Only because it broke the journey to Toulouse into two, we liked Narbonne, and we knew the Aire there was okay.

As it happened, we could have been anywhere last night, as aside from a brief foray to the shopping centre across the road, we did nothing after our arrival. I was feeling exhausted and lurgi-ish by then and lying on the sofa with a book was about as much as I wanted to exert myself.

Today’s destination was Toulouse, even though we’ve already been here twice this year. Why? Well, looking at the French ParkRun website a week or so ago, I saw that there are only seven ParkRuns in France, and one of them is in Toulouse, which was reachable with only a 30-40km detour from our route home. So we decided that rather than having a nice leisurely drive back to Calais, we would come here for a couple of nights, bimble around and have lunch out tomorrow, do the ParkRun on Saturday morning, then drive, drive and drive some more to get to Calais for our Chunnel home on Sunday.

Looking at the logistics a bit more closely, we realised that the plan would only work if there was somewhere to park Colin close to the ParkRun, so our first port of call on arriving in Toulouse was to head over to the area of parkland marked on my map as: Base de Loisirs de la Ramée. Happily parking there was no problem (although, arriving a few minutes before noon we only just beat the rush; a quarter of an hour later the car park was filling up rapidly as people headed out for some lunchtime leisure activities), and that gave us the opportunity to recce the course – something which seemed particularly advisable as the average number of participants in this location is just 16 (I guess ParkRun hasn’t caught on here quite yet!), meaning that following others may not be as easy as it has been at the other runs we have attended.

La Ramee proved to be a very pleasant area indeed, so no hardship, under the clear blue sky, to investigate various tracks as we tried to fathom out the course and memorise the turns and junctions (we think we did so successfully, with just two minor backtracks).

Looking left from the ParkRun route, over the large lake

Our chosen campsite (i.e. the cheaper of the two that we know to be open at this time of year) lay a distance away across town and we’ve booked in here for two nights. We’re next to another leisure park area (although nowhere near as nice as La Ramee), where we took our brief pre-sunset stroll this afternoon. Tomorrow we’ll occupy ourselves by heading off into town.

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