Mar 4, 2022
I hope you enjoy the blog posts today, along with the video and photos, all from the region to the east of Toulouse in France. The highlight for us was the B&B, Domain du Vern, in the town of St Affrique. We’ve since been back to visit the wonderful hosts, Laurence and Stephane. In fact, we’ve stayed there three times in total. It’s one of our favourite places in the world to stay.
Mar 1, 2013
Distance today = 52.01 km; Total distance = 17,263.43 km; Location = Verdalle – 43 30.422′ N, 02 09.364′ E; Start time = 0850, Finish time = 1719
Another productive, although reasonably uneventful day. The weather has been kind to me the past few days. Since the snow, the temps have warmed up a bit, and there’s been no rain.
For the third day in a row, I passed open air markets in the first town I went through, early in the morning. I called Carmel to let her know. She stopped at these markets again, only to find the same guy who makes paella was there. That’s a span of 100 km between the first and third towns. He really gets around. However, we decided against having paella for a third consecutive day.
Just after midday I reached the town of St Felix Lauragais. There were some truly old buildings there, and I imagine the place looks much like it did in medieval times. From there, it was on to Revel and Soreze, where we stayed in 2011 at a thousand year old former abbey. I finished the day 11 km further on, near the town of Verdalle.
I’m not normally one to air a gripe on the blog, but I will today. We found out this afternoon that the data (internet) on our phones will not work. Apparently internet does not work with SFR sim cards on i-Phones. This is despite SFR selling us the cards with the assurance that the data would be working within two hours. That was one week ago. It turns out it was never going to work. SFR – one of France’s main phone companies – is either dishonest or incompetent. In my role as a consumer watchdog for travellers, I would advise you never to use SFR when in France. And, despite the company having hundreds of offices all over the country, they will only give us our money back if we go to the office we bought the cards from – more than 350 km away. That’s not going to happen, so the upshot is that the tracker, amongst other things, will not be working while I’m on the road in France. The best I can do is send out a signal via the hotel wifi at the end of the day.
Mar 2, 2013
Distance today = 53.10 km; Total distance = 17,316.53 km; Location = Lacaune (8 km west of) – 43 41.362′ N, 02 36.675′ E; Start time = 0858, Finish time = 1726
Today was like a mountain stage in the Tour de France. It started with some minor rolling hills, progressed to a serious mountain, followed by a steep decent, and culminated with a final mountain climb of well over a thousand feet, to the finish at the high point of the day. Take a look at the vertical profile in the link above.
I actually cycled this road 18 months ago. On that occasion, the free-wheel mechanism on my bike broke at the beginning of the first climb, and I was forced to ride the next 200 km (until I had it repaired the next day) with a fixed wheel – in other words, I always had to pedal, even when going downhill. I couldn’t keep up the pedalling on the long downhills, so I was descending with my brakes on.
There were some nice scenes during the day. The city of Castres looked quite appealing, and the town of Brassac is very picturesque (see the photos). I finished just west of Lacaune, which is also a cute French mountain town. Tomorrow is mainly downhill – a reward for today.
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog, about another internet issue. Carmel had booked into the lovely thousand year old former abbey hotel in Soreze, unpacked everything after dragging all the gear up the stairs, only to find that the internet didn’t work. As you know, internet access is vital to us for getting the daily info out. She ended up having to pack everything up and drag it back to the car, before heading on to the next town to find another hotel.
This was an unusual incident, but Carmel is behind the scenes (and the camera) every day, performing numerous tasks – administrative, logistical, manual (e.g. unpacking the car while I’m still running), driving, shopping for supplies, feeding me, taking photos, and the list goes on. It certainly makes the job of running so much easier.
Mar 3, 2013
Distance today = 51.63 km; Total distance = 17,368.16 km; Location = St Affrique – 43 57.325′ N, 02 51.491′ E; Start time = 0901, Finish time = 1713
I awoke this morning feeling a bit below par. Perhaps yesterday’s big day of climbing took some of the zip out of me? It made today somewhat more difficult than usual, and I’m feeling quite tired now.
While yesterday entailed more than a thousand metres of uphill, today involved a similar amount downhill. As I’ve said before, it’s the downhill that destroys your legs.
The course through the mountains was very pretty, and included the town of Belmont sur Rance, with it’s church built in 1515.
I finished at Domain du Vern, in the town of St Affrique. We stayed here in 2011, along with Jenny, Jo, and Dave. On that occasion, we very much enjoyed meeting the hosts, Laurence and Stephane, and we’re looking forward to dinner with them tonight.
We also experienced great hospitality last night in Lacaune, at Le Relais de Fusies, where Renaud, Veronique, and Petra made us feel at home. They even gave us various presents to leave with.
Mar 4, 2013
Distance today = 54.09 km; Total distance = 17,422.25 km; Location = St Jean du Bruel – 44 01.430′ N, 03 21.578′ E; Start time = 0908, Finish time = 1757
A very tough day. Huge hills, a savage headwind, and cold sleet at times. And it was a long day too. I’m glad it’s over, as I’m now warm and resting.
The high point of day (in terms of altitude, that is) was at over 800 metres. At this location, there is a view of the highest bridge in the world, crossing a gorge just south of the city of Millau. I could see the bridge in 2011 when I cycled this road with Dave, but the weather precluded any vision of it today.
I had a big descent late in the day, which again was hard on the quads. They handled it pretty well, though. It was down into a lovely valley, and through the equally lovely towns of Nant and St Jean du Bruel.
I must mention the B&B we stayed in last night. Domaine du Vern must be one of the best there is. And hosts, Laurence and Stephane, may just be the friendliest there is. The food is fantastic, and all locally grown seasonal produce. It’s also organic. If you are travelling in the St Affrique region, it definitely should be on your list, and make sure you experience the dinner too – don’t just treat it as a bed for the night, or you’ll miss out on a large part of the reason for visiting. Thanks Laurence and Stephane for a great stay.