Three Weeks Under Canvas: The Tarn Gorge

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After our week in the Dordogne, we drove to the Tarn Gorge for another week’s camping, this time at Camping La Blaquiere. Even more so than at Camping Maisonneuve, we spent a great deal of our time on and around the campsite, particularly swimming in, or jumping into, the Tarn.

This is limestone country, like the area around the Dordogne, but very different scenery; the Tarn cuts deeply into the Cévennes and the steep sides of the gorge are girt with crags and huge towers.

This…

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…is the stretch of the river where we did most of our swimming. It was deep, crystal-clear, fast-flowing and absolutely full of a wide variety of fish: I took to wearing goggles whenever I swam, so that I could dive below the surface to observe them.

This…

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…is the only photo of the camping site I took. It shows the small cafe, where we ate twice, memorably watching a three-piece band segue from The Ram-Jam Band’s ‘Black Betty’ into the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’, an unusual combination.  As the light faded whilst we ate, I watched Alpine Swifts, which are larger than those we see at home, hurtling along beside the cliffs across the river.

I was endlessly fascinated by the way light changed with the time of day and the weather. This photo…

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…was taken relatively early in the morning. Just right of centre, you can see a rock formation poking above the horizon….

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The kids decided that it was a man and a woman. Later in the week we travelled past the campsite in a bus and I’m pretty sure that the driver pointed out the same rocks and said that one was Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’. Presumably the other is one of his wives, or many mistresses.

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Later in the week we had several afternoons which brought dark clouds, rumbles of thunder and sometimes rain.

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Which really added to the drama of the views…

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This stretch of the river…

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…is just downstream from the campsite. It was favourite with the Dangerous Brothers because the rocks on which I was standing to take the photograph had several spots from which to leap into the river, some of them really quite high up. That’s two of the DBs talking on the far bank: DB Senior, our B, and ODB – Old Dangerous Brother, or Andy, who is an honorary member of the team. I think he was quite chuffed to have somebody with him who shared his appetite for reckless self-enganderment. I know our boys certainly enjoyed it. Little S climbed to the highest jumping point numerous times, but in the end, on our final day, it was B who actually jumped.

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The photographs were taken from the far side of…

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…’le champignon’, the mushroom rock, another landmark which the bus driver identified.

Morning walks for bread only went as far as the campsite reception; the villages up and down the valley from the campsite were both a little too far away for a morning croissant and baguette walk.

This is La Malène…

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Which was upriver.

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And which has a bridge over the Tarn, handy for taking photos…

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The village in the other direction was Les Vignes, where we did most of our grocery shopping. It was almost as picturesque as La Malène, but I don’t seem to have taken many photographs, preferring instead to concentrate on being fleeced by a consummate salesman who lured me in with a complimentary glass of peach wine and samples of his wares, before ruining me financially by selling me some of what was surely the World’s most expensive salami. It did taste good though.

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Three Weeks Under Canvas: The Tarn Gorge

17 thoughts on “Three Weeks Under Canvas: The Tarn Gorge

  1. Superb photos and the memories come flooding back. I think, if I was really hard pushed, arm behind my back I just preferred the Tarn to the Dordogne, probably my love of dramatic rocky scenery over more pastoral stuff. It really was a superb stuff and you were absolutely right, I really enjoyed having the DBs for company in the jumping and swimming games. Great times 😀

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes, it was a great trip. The Tarn definitely wins it for photographs. I think I may be in a minority of one, even contemplating the possibility of liking the Dordogne more. Either way, I’m sure we all enjoyed both.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      It seemed like a long way for us, but by comparison I suppose it’s almost local for us – a very, very long way for you!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Four solid days of travelling. It was well worth it, however. We had to come back this time, but in future I’d like to think we could go for a bit longer

      1. Having driven to the Dordogne in the past via Portsmouth and St Malo, that was far enough for me! Your drive was considerably longer.
        Going down you have the excitement and anticipation. The return journey always seemed to take forever and we just wanted to be home

        1. beatingthebounds says:

          To be fair, Andy did tell us that we should go via St.Malo, but the penny-pinchers among us (i.e. us) decided against that idea. Turns out he was right, as usual. (Just don’t tell him I said that!)

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I took some photos quite early and others a little away from the campsite, so the photos might be slightly deceptive, but it wasn’t really ever particularly busy. Highly recommended!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      We have swifts and swallows, as well as both house and sand martins, I’m very glad to say. The Alpine Swifts were a bit of a puzzle: they were obviously swifts from their shape, speed and screams, but I knew something was different about them, although I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. They have a much larger area of white than our own Swifts, they’re also bigger but that didn’t stand out in the same way.

  2. Beautiful, dramatic scenery. Always fancied the Cevennes since I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale about his trip with a donkey (having first read about it in Richard Holmes’ Footsteps:Confessions of a romantic biographer)

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