As usual, we headed out to the Pont du Diable in early September. It’s a popular swimming place until the end of August, and then suddenly the French abandon it in droves, and the place is empty except for a few Brits and Germans looking rather lost.
The Pont used to have an unsurfaced parking lot, and you would scramble down the banks with the baskets and kids. In recent years, they gave the whole place a makeover and there is now a modern brick and glass building on the hill above the lake, everything is beautifully paved and there are odd Louis Bourgeoise spiders hanging around near the metal and plastic bins for dechets and emballage.
The Pont was virtually empty compared to the throngs of people over summer, and the parking was free of charge whereas in August it costs € 6 for the day. We had a nice afternoon snoozing on the beach and taking not very good underwater videos in the shallows.
Afterwards, we went up to the shop and Madam sold us six bottles of interesting wines from around the region. The shop is excellent, you can taste some of the wines, and the selection is from around the Languedoc, including wines from St Guilhem and other nearby villages. There’s a good area next to the wine selling books on the pilgrimage, wine making, St Guilhem, the Chemin de St Jacques, the Middle Ages, Herault villages and the like.
The Pont runs high above the water, and it used to be the place that teenagers would plunge from into the narrow waters of the Gorge de l’Herault. Now, thank goodness, they have stopped that, and I can swim and throw pebbles without fearing that at any moment I will have to leap up and rescue someone. The lifeguard has never quite gone away, and even those who jump off from half way up the bridge give me a feeling of anxious watchfulness.
This place is full of memories for us. Without getting too A La Recherche, I remember the famous storm when the kids were still toddlers, and our canoe got soaked and all the cameras were ruined; then a few years later, when they paddled off on in their own canoe, while we lurked in our own, keeping a watchful eye; and then early teens when they went off their own, suddenly out of sight, and we had to sit and wait with fingers crossed. Of course, it is for the most part ridiculously safe, and all that what was at play was parental anxiety.