Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Taking the Bus

We flew from home to France, rode in a taxi to the Gare de Lyon in Paris, took a train down to Narbonne and another to Toulouse on a day trip, had a fun auto tour of the countryside with French friends, we took an electric boat down the canal, and have walked over 150 km during our time here in France. Yesterday we used another form of transportation and took a bus down to the seaside to a little town called Gruissan to spend the day. 

Arriving in Gruissan

It took a while to understand the Buses here in Narbonne, and the actual people who run them were not so much help. The Tourist office told us that bus 8 would take us down to Gruissan and back, and we were able to buy tickets for the bus, but finding it was not so easy. We were told that the bus stopped right out in front of the train station, so while Regis checked on times and schedules, I walked down the street to find the stop. There are two types of buses in Narbonne, the local ones that serve the town itself, labeled with letters, and the ones that go to other towns use numbers. I walked up and down both sides of the road and found three bus stops with letters and numbers, but no number 8 was listed. Regis came back with the information that the stop was “Right in front of the Train Station.”, but it was not. We asked some locals who pointed us in both directions where I had already looked. Then I noticed one of the larger inter-city buses turn and go down a side street, and a short walk down there was a stop with the schedule for bus 8 posted. 

Nice to be down by the seaside

A short wait and a big bus with a number 8 on it pulled up and the driver assured us, that yes, he was headed to Gruissan. But just to make it a bit more confusing we seemed to have to get off one bus 8 and then get on another bus with the same number to actually get into the town. Fortunately when the bus from Narbonne pulled into the stop, there was another bus 8 waiting for us.

We weren’t the only confused tourists and when the bus got to the end of his run and no one got off, the driver questioned everyone and found out we were all visiting for the day and he explained where we should have gotten off and looped around and let us off a short way from the old town with instruction on how to get there. 

Great view of the town

Gruissan is a lovely quiet little town on the coast with a ruined castle/fort towering over it. However, it was quiet because it was mostly deserted. Obviously catering to the summer tourist traffic, most of the town was closed and shuttered. We explored empty streets and looked in windows of closed shops. We needed lunch, so the many interesting closed restaurants caused us some concern. We were able to climb up to the ruined castle tower in the centre of town and visit the church at its base. 

Where is everyone?

We did find a couple of restaurants open, but the prices seemed elevated due to their rarity and Regis had found a place she wanted to try that was about a fifteen minute walk away. Google Maps reported it was open so we decided to take the chance. On the walk to the restaurant the helpful bus driver passed and gave us a friendly wave. As it worked out we had a lovely meal with a friendly server and the location gave us a nice view of the Marina and hundreds of sailboats.

Rather than taking the local bus 8, we explored more of the town by walking back to the stop where we got off from Narbonne and discovered the same people we arrived with waiting at the stop. Back in Narbonne, my pedometer reported another 10 km added to our walking total, and we retired early, tired from another adventure in France. 

Slippery steps to the tower

A view down over the town

Walking back to the bus

Interesting Gruissan style boat

Inside the church

Bottles on a ledge - no one home!

Time for lunch

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