On Easter Monday I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time: visit the poplar forest at Cabezac during green-up time. For years and years this forest has held a lot of visual appeal for me. Driving from Carcassonne towards Cabezac you can see the outline from afar, the rows uponrows of trunks with the leaves hovering over them like clouds. To me it looks best at springtime when the leaves are just about coming out and form a green haze above the silvery trunks. Easter Monday was definitely the day for it, bright blue skies and nobody about. Bordered at one end by the D607 and the river Cesse at the other, the forest has been planted following a strict grid pattern (on the Google aerial view you can more or less count each tree).
In some parts you can see how the wind shapes the trees – I did stand up straight and lined the camera up in that shot 🙂 Walking through the forest was magical, the cars were just a distant hum, but there was lots of birdsong. At the river end, the edge was colonized by coronilla bushes, and the river banks were almost cliff like, as if someone had cut the earth with a huge knife. It looked as though there might be some great swimming spots on the opposite bank! At the end of the walk, I thought I would clear what looked like a bit of mud off my shoes. In the end it took a lot of scraping to get the soles cleaned, not from mud but from the husks that shield the buds on the trees. As the leaves unfurl the husks drop to the ground and they are seriously sticky!!
On the way back to St Chinian I stopped at L’Appaloosa restaurant in Bize Minervois (home to Le Figuier and Les Remparts) for lunch. Rachel and Jean-Marc are always very welcoming and friendly and their food is delicious. Lunch was three courses, and we decided to have one each of the day’s specials to share. Starters were a goats cheese salad with a pine nut and basil dressing, and an asian salad with prawns and mango and a sesame dressing.
For main course there was grilled chicken (very tender and juicy) served with vegetables and chunky fries (one of my vices!), and filet of dorade and prawns cooked in banana leaves and served with asian vegetables and sauce. Both were very delicious and very different from one another. I was so pleasantly replete that I could only manage a scoop of lime sorbet!
On the way home to Saint-Chinian there were a few more picture opportunities, including the fairly kitsch cherry blossom, the judas tree and a Banks rose.And for those who have read through all this, here is the picture which spring promised. An amazing waterfall of wisteria!If any of this makes you want to visit St Chinian or the area please get in touch!