Cirque de Gavarnie

Today's recipe: Homemade caramel
Cirque de Gavarnie
I must admit that one of the main reasons I’m writing about this is that I think my photos are soooo lovely…and it’s my blog so I can do whatever I like, damnit! I will, of course, add a recipe ‘cos that is another reason for this blog. The recipe is for making your own caramel from sweetened condensed milk so read on as it is pleasure not to be missed.

The Cirque de Gavarnie is a famous example of a cirque in the central Pyrenees, is 800m wide (on the deepest point) and about 3000m wide at the top. It is about 2km in diameter and the mountains range about 1500m above the bottom of the valley. Very impressive – and I’m not just talking about my knowledge…

But first to the Cirque. Now, could anyone tell me why it’s called a Circus? Clever Wikipedia says that cirque is the French word for Circus and is a concave Amphitheatre-like valley head, formed at the head of a valley glacier by erosion. It also says lots more interesting (yawn) things, but I think you get the picture. Or you could check this out ( )

So, do we call a Cirque a Circus in English? In the little village of Gavarnie there are loads of cafes and restaurants with multi-lingual menus calling you to enjoy a Circus meal. I found this most amusing, but then started to doubt my knowledge of the English language. So, I need your help – tell me what you think/know about cirque vs. circus. (PS: I know we call a cirque a circus in regard to people and animals performing normally in a tent; it’s in regard to mountains that I am asking the question.)

Taken in the village of Gavarnie

We decided not to have a Circus of a meal, but instead we opened up a (big) can of Pea and bacon stew and warmed it on the little gas cooker in our camper van. Sheer Bliss. Stop crinkling up your nose! It will only give you wrinkles… We ate our stew looking up at the snow clad Circus and then we had a little snooze before heading back home like Grammy and Gramper. I could give the recipe, but it involves a sharp tin opener and I don’t want to be responsible for you hurtin’ yourself.

Talking of being responsible, we actually were unable to walk the full way into the Kettle as there was a big warning sign that said that one shouldn’t because of the danger of avalanches so we behaved and didn’t go any further. Not like those nasty talking heads that completely ignored it and walked on – just you wait till I tell your Mommy on you. I can’t say we were totally distressed that we couldn’t go any further as we therefore lost the three women who give women a bad name – they never stopped bloody talking – and we could get back to the camper for the above-mentioned gourmet treat.

The warning sign

On our way back home we stopped at the Pont Napoleon which was built under Napoleons watchful eye between 1859 and 1863. A friend told me that Napoleon was trying to find another way to get to Spain and was stumped by the Circus he found so he had to build a bridge and find somewhere else to get to cheap Spanish wine…but I am not too sure about the reliability of my source. My ever-faithful Wikipedia has an incredibly long piece on it in French and yes, I should be able to translate it all, but I don’t want to spoil you so I’ll let you have a go at it yourselves… ( )

The bridge Pont Napoleon

The bridge is about 68m long and 63m high over the Gave River and is a favored bungee-jumping spot. We stopped and watched some of the brave/foolish people jump – man is that gorge narrow. Now I was far more sensible when I bungee-jumped in my misspent youth – I chose a really wide river valley AND my bridge is 270m long and 75m high, not like the piddling 63m of this baby bridge.


The bridge I chose to throw myself off is the Gouritz River Bridge and can be found on the Garden Route between Albertina and Mossel Bay, South Africa. Strangely enough, it was built in 1892 so at about the same time as Napoleon’s Cheap Wine Route bridge was built. I read on another web page that is was closed last year due to cracks in the bridge – now don’t you go blaming my feather weight for this!

All I can say to my bungee jumping experience is NEVER AGAIN. I was afraid of heights before I jumped and thought I would try the homeopathic way of adding the poison you are trying to get rid of, but the only result is that now I’m terrified of heights. But I did it and lived to tell the tale, so there. What sweetened the whole deal was the very cute guy who ever so gently lowered me to the ground and…helped me out of my foot shackles, you pervert you!

And talking of sweetening things up…man, I even impress myself with my ability to get back to the recipes! Nows about the time for one such recipe.

Homemade, easy and deevine

Take a tin of sweetened condensed milk, put it in a pot with a tight fitting lid and with enough water to cover the tin. Put the lid on, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
Do NOT pierce the tin beforehand.

Allow the tin to cool – I just switch the pan off and leave it in the water to cool. Remove, open and enjoy!

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Hello You are lucky to live

You are lucky to live in a beautiful region of France; I love this recipe, so easy and will be using it; as for le cirque, je ne sais pas ce que ça veut dire! j'aime les photos de ton site aussi, tres agréable.

Oh my goodness, you're a

Oh my goodness, you're a braver woman than me to try bungee jumping. Not sure I am capable of it. Just the thought gives me a cold sweat. Although the location looks amazing and if I could console myself with these yummy caramels, how bad can it really be?

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