Thank goodness I remembered to bring my earplugs. Vertheuil is a sleepy little village in the Medoc, with 1 (no, 2 ... make that 3) noise problems. 1st, the house is on the main square next to the church. And so the church bells are RIGHT there, every half hour a single gong, and then on the hour with a gong for every hour. 2nd, there is an old abbey behind the church with its own set of bells. Tradition has mandated that they won't eliminate the abbey's bells, which ring 3 minutes AFTER the church bells. 3rd, the village has the largest salle de fete in the area, which is very popular for Saturday weddings. And the French love to party and honk their horns going to and from the wedding and the party. Most Saturdays, including today, there is a wedding at the church. I'm not sure how loud the party will be tonight. Even though there is a noise bylaw mandating quiet after 2am, there is no one around to enforce it, so often (I'm told) the noise will go on until 4am or so.
But I got a good night's sleep last night, and we'll see what tonight brings.
The whole area here, called the Gironde, is quite flat. It is named after the estuary at the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. They meet at Bordeaux, about 50 miles south of Vertheuil. Vertheuil lies between the river and the ocean, about halfway up the peninsula.
After a light breakfast of yoghurt and a bit of pain au raisin, it was off to the market at Montelivet. This is the last of the season for the market, so lots of bargains to be had. Montelivet is on the beach (Atlantic Ocean) and is filled with little beach cottages, surf shops and café/bars. The market is in the centre of the town and includes everything from clothing and bric-a-brac to oyster/wine bars. Oysters are caught locally just south of here.
After strolling the market, we had crepes and cappuccinos, then went off to the beach. Ali and I went in for a swim. A le debut, il etait tres froid, mais après 10 minutes il etait tres bon (please excuse any mistake in grammar or spelling). There were not a lot of waves, so not a good surf day, but pleasant for swimming. They only have a small area marked with flags where swimming is allowed (and the cute lifeguards are watching out for you).
Back in Vertheuil we saw a wedding couple waiting to go into the church (after much honking of cars on arrival). The threshold was strewn with laurel leaves, a sign of fertility. Once the priest came out to indicate that all was ready, the guests and the groom went inside, followed lastly by the bride. About 45 minutes later they came out amid cheers from the guests, who tossed flower petals and rice (?). More honking of horns and off they went, possibly to rest and change. More honking of horns about an hour later when they arrived back at the salle de fete for the dinner.
Which is where we went ... dinner that is, not to the salle de fete. Patricia made a reservation at Café Lavinal in Pauillac. A nice 15-minute drive past some of the better vineyards and chateaus, like Lafite Rothschild and Cos. I had a white fish with pureed carrots, very nice. After our 25-degree day, it was surprising that it got a bit cool outside, but then we didn't finish until about 10pm. On our way out of Pauillac we were stopped by the police (!). Luckily Patricia is fluent in French. Seems that our car's fog lights are on when the headlights are on -- can't turn them off. So we were let go (whew!). On the drive home a small deer ran past on the road -- first wildlife I've seen other than stray cats (no, Patricia, the donkey at the turnoff to Vertheuil doesn't count).
Looks like the wedding dinner is still going on. I'll put in my earplugs and hopefully sleep through the night once again.