“On the Lam” to France (again)

Camping les brugues, Fanjeaux One of the highlights of our ambition-realizing first-year-of-retirement 6-week trip to France in spring/early summer, 2006, was our discovery of what we consider to be the finest campsite we know. We found ourselves on a small (25 pitches) camping à la ferme site called Camping les Brugues just outside Fanjeaux, a little south of Carcassonne. The total site may be small but some of the pitches are very large, about 300 m². The site borders a small lake surrounded by farm fields about 1km from the farm house. The lake teems with wildlife.

Luc's dairy ewes The farm is a dairy sheep farm run by a delightful couple, Luc and Nadine Vialaret, who make visitors feel very welcome, often by inviting you to their house for snacks and drinks. In addition to crops, Luc has 320 ewes (apparently 320 is his quota) the milk from which goes to make Roquefort cheese. When it’s milking season, Luc takes groups of interested visitors to demonstrate the milking process. If you’re really lucky, he’ll squirt warm milk straight from a sheep’s udder into your mouth. Yum! Definitely unpasteurized.

We liked the place so much that we revisited in 2007, not once but twice. During one of our stays Luc said that we could go and help with lambing which apparently occurs in November. “But your campsite is closed”, I said. “That’s OK, we have a room – you work, I feed you”, smirked Luc. Yeah, yeah!

We didn’t get that far south in 2008 ‘cos the weather never settled; we headed to the west coast instead to find what little settled weather existed.

This year we visited France in September and had stunning weather. We set out for the southeast and then made our way west along the southern part of France to the Languedoc where, almost inevitably, we ended up once again at Luc and Nadine’s blissful farm near Fanjeaux. After two years, one of the first things Luc said when he greeted us was, “we waited for you to help with the lambing but you didn’t come”. Yeah, yeah! Luc also remembered that we’d been taking photographs around his farm and asked for copies of our pictures. I said I’d send him a disk soon after we returned home.

Once back at home I duly compiled all our photographs from various visits to Luc and Nadine’s farm, made a DVD and mailed it to them together with a covering email. It arrived safely, was well received and back came an email from Luc:

… we have a spare room and if you would like to visit to help during lambing time …
… best time would be between 24th November to 12th December …
… we’d pick you up from Carcassonne airport …
… we’d like you to see our region in the winter…

Foreigners are going to deliver my baby??Gulp! He was serious!

What an experience it would be to help (more like hinder) on a French farm during lambing time. How could we refuse such an offer? It’ll be hard work, I’m sure, but very different. Besides, we’ve been at home too long so we’ll be off to get messy with the ewes and lambs from about 25th November for a week or so. We’ll probably drive ‘cos I can get the ferry with air miles.

Yikes! Excitement!! 🙂

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