It was Sunday and with nothing better to do other than look out of the window wondering whether it was going to rain, I decided to risk it and go for a walk.
I had planned to do it during the week, but with so many unpredictable downpours, as though the entire climatic system of the area had been plumbed into a faulty shower, I kept postponing it.
Until today. When it looked fine (ish).
After a breakfast of fried eggs, sausage, bacon, fried bread, black pudding, coffee, toast, marmalade, honey, coffee, croissant, coffee, I put on my waders, oilskins, corset and asphalt hat and hit the coast heading north towards Andernos-Les-Bains.
It was a nice walk along the sandy shore, looking at the oyster boats in the various ports along the way. Their captains wondering how long this English style weather was going to last, glaring at me as though I had I HATE OYSTERS YOU COCKSUCKING FRENCH CUNTS emblazoned on my back.
I got to Andernos and like all seaside resorts in winter it was pretty dead, except for a few Sunday diners oozing out of the only open restaurant like oysters escaping their shells. Content and dazed on the giant platters of seafood they’d just eaten. Massive plates of lobster, oyster, shrimp, langoustine and scallops, all doused down with bottles of Chateau Fombrauge Bordeaux Blanc at £45 a pop.
I was just about to turn back home when I saw the ruins of a villa next to the church of Saint-Eloi. I remember the name because it’s the same name as a brand of frozen peas I sometimes use.
The tourist plaque told me it was built in the 4th century, but abandoned soon after. This ‘Abandoned soon after,’ line being synonymous with the other 4th century Gallo-Roman villas I’ve come across.
‘The villa at XXXXXX was abandoned soon after,’ reads every 4th century Gallo-Roman villa information board in France.
The Roman empire collapsed when they all buggered back to Italy before the ice cream and pizza ran out. I get that bit. What I don’t get – and this is important. Is why the locals didn’t move in?
NICE GALLO-ROMAN VILLA WITH SEA VIEW AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY. CHOICE OF BEDROOMS, PATIO, IDEAL LOCATION, LOCAL AMENITIES – ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS
But no. They decided to remain in their hovels and rabbit holes, leaving the lovely villa to go to ruin until it was discovered centuries later by pinafored Victorians who had nothing better to do than poke around in the mud looking for old stones. And they say the Victorians were the embodiment of civilisation…
Fact is I’ve seen so many of these ruins now that I couldn’t even be bothered to finish reading. Or even take a photo. So I gave it a huge Gallic shrug and walked home, finding a dogshit bag dispenser far more interesting.
(Picture number 2. Saisissez la dejection – Pick up the shit – particularly tickled me.)
My walk taught me a few things:
- Andernos-les-Bains is pretty boring.
- It’s possible to walk here for more than three hours without getting sodden.
- I’ve lost interest in Gallo-Roman architecture.
- I get amused by public signs telling me what to do if a dog needs a crap.
- My next step in this car crash journey towards old age might be to buy a dog. Or even an umbrella…