May 19-20, 2014  Mont-de-Marsan --> Xaintrailles -->Moissac

Once in France we turned inland, driving secondary roads and truck routes to an pleasant looking fenced municipal campground at Mont-de-Marsan.  There was no registration, only a credit card operated gate where you paid for your stay and optionally purchased time at a central electrical post before the gate would open. The campsite was pleasant with grassy pitches, large shade trees, and a central sanitation centre.  It was nearly empty when we arrived, but before long, motorhomes began to cluster around the power post, one would plug in a multi-outlet power cord and several others would draw from this one. They would take turns paying for the single outlet and sharing the power among the group. Unfortunately, the sanitation centre was closed and the only WCs were just outside the fence. They required walking back out to the main road, along to the park and back along the otherside of the fence to the automated, self-cleaning WC. The next day we drove through mostly forest-land and small vil- lages into the Midi-Pyrénées towards the city of Moissac. Near the Canal de Garonne, on a hill surrounded by rolling forest and rich farmland, stood the village of Xaintrailles. The conical peaked towers of a chateau and the crenulated tower of the chateau's castle keep looked down on the old village with its modest church and cemetery. There were no stores, restaurants, or shops in the village and the streets were empty as we drive through. We parked on the edge of town and walked back towards the chateau. The walled and gated chateau and fortress were beautifully restored.  Painted plaster homes lined the village streets. In places fallen plaster exposed the underlying stone construction, a mix of dressed and undressed stone with ancient hand-hewn timber lintels above doors and windows. Rather than suggesting decay, these buildings emphasized the heritage of the vil- lage, giving it added character and interest. Scattered antique public taps, pumps, and pools, now mostly decorative were reminders of the days before indoor plumbing. Alcoves and wrought iron balconies some supporting grape vines or roses gave an air of gentle homi- ness to the streets. A white haired woman, stooped and bent with age emerged from a home and carried a bouquet of roses towards the church and cemetery. We could hear children in the school and around noon parents began arriving to pick  them up for lunch. The simple, rather humble church and cemetery were a marked contrast to the elaborate churches and mausoleums of Spain and Portugal. The history of the village and the changing times were evident in the family plots marking generations of the same family, and also in the number of plots no longer maintained, either because the family had moved or died, or had simply become indifferent. Many of these were marked as abandoned and available for reallocation. We checked out the canal and then had lunch beside a small cottage winery and public park near Bouzet-sur-Baise before driving through rolling fields of grain and orchards, past more chateaux, and through alleys of tall plane trees lining small lanes into our campsite on the Tarne River just outside Moissac.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Automated campground at Mont-de-Marsan Xaintrailles, France Cemetery, Xaintrailles Chateau de Xaintrailles Xaintrailles, France

May 19-20, 2014  Mont-de-Marsan -->

Xaintrailles -->Moissac

Once in France we turned inland, driving secondary roads and truck routes to an pleasant looking fenced municipal campground at Mont-de-Marsan.  There was no registration, only a credit card operated gate where you paid for your stay and optionally purchased time at a central electrical post before the gate would open. The campsite was pleasant with grassy pitches, large shade trees, and a central sanitation centre.  It was nearly empty when we arrived, but before long, motorhomes began to cluster around the power post, one would plug in a multi-outlet power cord and several others would draw from this one. They would take turns paying for the single outlet and sharing the power among the group. Unfortunately, the sanitation centre was closed and the only WCs were just outside the fence. They required walking back out to the main road, along to the park and back along the otherside of the fence to the automated, self- cleaning WC. The next day we drove through mostly forest- land and small villages into the Midi-Pyrénées towards the city of Moissac. Near the Canal de Garonne, on a hill surrounded by rolling forest and rich farmland, stood the village of Xaint- railles. The conical peaked towers of a chateau and the crenulated tower of the chateau's castle keep looked down on the old village with its modest church and cemetery. There were no stores, res- taurants, or shops in the village and the streets were empty as we drive through. We parked on the edge of town and walked back towards the chateau. The walled and gated chateau and fortress were beautifully restored.  Painted plaster homes lined the village streets. In places fallen plaster exposed the underlying stone construc- tion, a mix of dressed and undressed stone with ancient hand-hewn timber lintels above doors and windows. Rather than suggesting decay, these buildings emphasized the heritage of the village, giving it added character and interest. Scattered antique public taps, pumps, and pools, now mostly decorative were remind- ers of the days before indoor plumbing. Alcoves and wrought iron bal- conies some sup- porting grape vines or roses gave an air of gentle hominess to the streets. A white haired woman, stooped and bent with age emerged from a home and carried a bouquet of roses towards the church and cemetery. We could hear children in the school and around noon parents began arriving to pick  them up for lunch. The simple, rather humble church and cemetery were a marked contrast to the elaborate churches and mausoleums of Spain and Portugal. The history of the village and the changing times were evident in the family plots marking generations of the same family, and also in the number of plots no longer maintained, either because the family had moved or died, or had simply become indifferent. Many of these were marked as abandoned and available for reallocation. We checked out the canal and then had lunch beside a small cottage winery and public park near Bouzet-sur-Baise before driving through rolling fields of grain and orchards, past more chateaux, and through alleys of tall plane trees lining small lanes into our campsite on the Tarne River just outside Moissac.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Automated campground at Mont-de-Marsan. Xaintrailles, France Cemetery, Xaintrailles Chateau de Xaintrailles Xaintrailles, France