Our hostess at Peyrelau, Doris, (how can she possibly be French with a name like that?) had indicated that the boat trip out of La Malene was something worthwhile so, by the time we’d done Point Sublime, purportedly the best view point in Gorges du Tarn, we were open to other possibilities. The panorama, though spectacular, had been a tad disappointing and the light was inappropriate for good photos. On the way up we’d past a partly ruined village that got me excited and we’d also seen troglodyte buildings on high, improbably sited beneath the cliffs.
So we found ourselves, yet again, deep in Gorges du Tarn at La Malene, sipping a cuppa across from the bridge and watching the world go by. I figured the boat trip would probably be too long but I might return sometime in the future so I went over to grab a brochure beside the bridge at the information hut. No sooner had I done this than the office opened after the customary 12pm until 2pm European lunch break that we Aussies find so hard to come to terms with.
I quickly learned that the trip only took an hour and then discovered that one was about to depart in five minutes and that it also had a guide who spoke English, such a rarity in these parts. Obviously, it occurred to me, fate had intervened! We were soon on our way and Lorraine said that if she didn’t enjoy it, then it was my shout. My money was safe after we’d only gone a few hundred metres.
Riding the rapids, watching the towering cliffs go by, seeing how wonderfully clear the water was, drifting by evidence of beavers, seeing caves and a mediaeval ruin; it was all so pleasurable. When we came to the part only accessible by boat, it was even better as we caressed cliff faces and watched dippers catching fish. The boat handler also told us about three hamlets that exist in the Gorges du Tarn, the only ones with boat access alone. Apparently they are all owned by the same family and only used for summer holidays.
Lorraine had smile a mile wide when we’d finished, then someone pointed out more rock climbers just across the road. It was entertainment plus.
We drove on to Sainte Enimie thereafter and wandered the ancient narrow streets before stopping for afternoon tea, then we moved to view the ruins of Castelbouc, a 12th-century pile of rubble and walls on the opposite side of the river before. Yet again we had to zig zag up to the causses and cross to the other side and plunge down into the Jonte gorge where we couldn’t wait to tell Doris how right she had been.