Flight: France: Wine Country, Perpignan, Mediterranean Sea

Typical of most things in the airplane, it was the worst moment to fly personally. I had started a new client, was slammed with a mountain of errands, and had just dropped my wife off for a trip of her own, which meant I had even more to do. Amidst aneurytic levels of task overload, I decided the most sensible thing was to conquer filing a flight plan, sign up for and figure out French aviation weather feeds, activate the silly flight plan while surrounded by mountains, and deal with nonstop French ATC while not having much of a plan.

I declared war on Wednesday and took the flight on Thursday. After trying a few frequencies, I finally raised Montpellier Approach at the pass to Perpignan. No issues activating a Spanish originated flight plan while in France!

As I flew past Pic d’Canigou, I was greeted with snow on the peak and illustrious autumn color on the mountainside. Recall my post a few weeks ago, ranting that autumn was over and it was no good. Well, here we are.

Coming around the bend, I was greeted with views of the Mediterranean Sea. Descending rapidly under ATC orders, autumnal bliss was extended to the Languedoc wine region. I surely expected the vineyards to be devoid of leaves. For that matter, I didn’t even know they turned color. A few minutes later, I was flying over palm trees. Literally, in a span of 20 minutes, I flew from snow to palm trees! There is no place that I know of in the United States where one can see mountain snow and palm trees so closely. Possibly in Southern California it is possible to see it somewhat close, though unlikely like this.

The rest of the flight consisted of lots of ATC radio traffic in French, for which I had to listen for English instructions for me at any random moment, while taking an extraordinary amount of photographs, flying (of course), navigating, and getting the frequent handover from one agency to the next. It was interesting to say the least, and one of my more memorable flights.

Over the pass to Perpignan. French side.
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Looking the other way.
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Pic d’Canigou….and illustrious autumn. Go figure.
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Coming around the bend and the Mediterranean on the horizon!
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More autumnal hues, Pyrenees foothills, NW of Perpignan.
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Fall in wine country. A total surprise.
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Vertical trees are to slow down raging Tramontane winds.
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In case I am missing suburbia, I’ll just drop in to France.
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Palm trees.
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A bit overdeveloped. 
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Mediterranean coast. I used to severely dislike being even this far from shore. I am still well within glide distance to the beach, and it doesn’t bother me after a winter on the Outer Banks.
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Boats. I wonder how many of these are paid for by drug money, organized crime, human trafficking, prostitution, bribery, political corruption, Russian oligarchs, and insolvent loans. I suppose I should create a category for “legitimately earned income,” though that is probably a small percentage.
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Coastal trees.
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Hideous French housing experiment.
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Navigation error. Wait. We’re in France. “Erreur de navigation.”
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I have driven this highway to and from Germany more times than I would like. I have also been fined for speeding on this highway by automated speed cameras more than I would like. France, in an act of racketeering, waits six months to send all sins in a giant pile, deluding Americans into thinking that doing 5mph over the speed limit is OK and allowing transgressions to profitably accumulate before indicating that its a poor idea to speed at all.
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I wonder if the engine of French feudalism is vanity.
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The foreground looks disturbingly like West Virginia from the air, if the vineyards are removed.
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Looking back on much of what I flew.
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Snow, entering the Val du Capcir on the way to La Cerdanya.
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Pic d’Canigou on the horizon.
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Puyvalador, France
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French people setting the place on fire.
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