We awoke in darkness and that was after we had raised the shutters. Today we were travelling more or less the length of France on 3 different trains and then catching the Eurostar to London. This all meant an early start and the alarm went off at 5! After negotiating the early morning traffic, roadworks and a pontoon style arrangement to cross to the station.
I wish I could say that our journey to Paris went without a hitch unfortunately I can’t. The first train was late and this impacted on the rest of the journeys and meant that a small sight seeing window we had in Paris dissappeared. The whole experience of French stations and French trains was not a happy one.
We arrived in Paris later than planned and with no time for any sightseeing set off across the city to book our bikes and bodies on the Eurostar. In no time at all we were in London and asked at the eurodespatch office if we could pick our bikes up the next day. For the last leg of the journey home. Getting an affirmative we. Said our thanks and set off for our hotel. It had been a long, hot and tiring day gratefully. We got booked in and hit the sack.
The next day we had one train to catch for home and that would be the end of our holiday. It had been a great experience and we are already planning our next French Foray!!
Our final full day of cycling and the penultimate day of our holiday. After an excellent breakfast at Les Jardins du Rebaut we headed out to try and make our way through, round or over the construction works by the canal.
Once on the canal we got a pleasant surprise when the path showed some signs of improvement this continued for some time but soon returned to the hard packed soil we had become used to with some jungle type manoeuvres to get us through the foliage!
The Canal du Midi ends at the Etang de Thau so, although we were headed for Sete we took a small detour for a picture stop at the lighthouse.
Any rumours that there is money in the South of France was confirmed when we passed a boat park.
We headed back the way we had came and picked up the cycle way along the Plage du Lido. A wide promenade that stretched into the far distance with beach and the Med on the right hand side mile after mile with entrances numbered and site after site of holiday homes.
With the finish in site and after a hot day in the saddle we decided to treat ourselves to a final overpriced iced treat!!
We were booked into another chain in Sete the Citotel Hotel Imperial. We followed the prom and the cycle path which ran out just as we rounded a bend to see the hotel at the end of the road.
We got booked in and secured the cycles to drainpipes in the CCTV surveyed car park and headed for our room. After a rest we headed to the rooftop bar and restaurant for food and some drink.
After we had eaten we took a walk in the town heading towards the rail station so we would find it easier in the morning.
WE took our time leaving Le Somail mainly because I wanted to visit the library which had featured in the Pru Scales canal journey. I could have spent all day there even though the volumes were mainly in French. The store had many old volumes and was almost as much a museum as a book store.
We would be a passing the Ecluse de Cesse on our journey this is where the canal splits and heads for Narbonne and Port-La-Nouvelle and the Med, we would however continue eastwards to Beziers. At Malpas we went over the second tunnel on the canal a grand affair but unfortunately not one that we could use with the bikes.
The approach to Beziers was blocked by canal lock works and improvements and meant we had to leave the canal and head around the town on the road and track down our rather well hidden and secluded B N B.
We had an excellent view of the city from our room and after unpacking and washing headed out for some sightseeing and food.
There was a footpath, which seemed to head in the correct direction, so we took that and Carol got her second puncture of the trip. As we were headed for dinner we did not have panniers or spares. So we had an exhausting walk in the heat to the town square and food of course this meant we had to walk all the way back luckily the evening had cooled and the walk was quite pleasant. It had been a tiring day but the view of the cathedral bathed in lights was enough to delay us going to bed till we could capture the image.
Stats Distance 21.5 miles
Climb. 275 feet
I awoke to several worried messages on FB asking if we were OK and anyplace near the tragedy. On with the TV and checking BBC news to hear of the attack in Nice the previous evening. Breakfast was rather subdued.
It had been a really pleasent few days in Carcasonne we pedalled away along the canal the realisation that the holiday would soon be over suddenly hitting us but at least we could pedal away.
The crops were once again the grape variety. The surface we cycled on was hard packed earth of varying widths which made riding side by side difficult and at times was very bumpy and uncomfortable. We had read reports of the Midi being rougher going than the Garonne and they were right. Although the canals are managed by a country wide organisation it seems the pathways are down to the local Departments and the paths since we had entered Aude had been terrible. It was here that we got our first puncture!
A feature of the canals are the plane trees that line the banks and provide shade lately they had been attacked by some sort of disease and on almost the whole length of the trip we saw mature trees with numbered disks nailed in them, stumps where they already been removed or young trees that had been replanted. This was a long term project and there were many signs describing the size of the investment and the duration of the project.
We proceeded along the canal passing through Marseillette, Homps, and Argens-Minervois to name but a few of the villages. There was a bit of urgency about today’s journey as we were meeting a friend of Carol’s for dinner and had some distance to cover.
We passed by some interesting metal sculptures along the way .
Our Gite for the evening was the Neptune another quirky privately owned establishment barely 50 feet from the canal and with a lovely little terrace where we were invited to take a drink with the owners.
The owners explained that Carol’s friend, Carrie, had called to ask directions and let us know that she was running a little late which gave us more time to get ready and relax on the terrace!
Carrie arrived and took us to the town of Bize-Minervois where she lived with her husband and son. We had a stroll through the town to a lovely little restaurant where we had an excellent dinner and some wine. Afterwards we went back to Carries house for a short while before she dropped us back at the Gite.
Stats Distance 41 miles
Time 4h 48m
Climb 194 ft
We rose late booking out time was 1200 with Le Caravan due through at 2:45. The hotel had kindly let us leave bikes and baggage in the storage area so we were free to wander the town, soak up the atmosphere and most importantly choose our caravan and viewing spots!
Why two spots? Well you want space for when the caravan passes so you can scramble about for the goodies as it was I ended up giving most of mine to the sister of a girl who seemed to get everything and was not into sharing with her sibling! As for viewing you want to see as much as possible with perhaps the risk of a crash. The route went past our hotel up a slight incline and did a sharp left hander on a cobbled corner we chose this spot to view the tour.
After the tour had gone through it was time to grab our bikes and baggage and head for our next stop. The Bastide cite of Carcassonne.
We headed down the hill amidst the tour tidy up operation. It was here we had our first mechanical as we headed down the hill my panniers felt out of balance what had happened was a bolt had shaken loose from my rear panniers. After some first aid we again headed off.
We swung left onto the canal and were on our way. The accommodation was listed as being 500m from the canal and on the outskirts of the town. We wasted no time as there was a financial cost if you turned up later than 7pm! Unfortunately by the time we negotiated a main road and a new huge LeClerk development we rolled up 45 mins late. Looking sweaty and bedraggled. We booked. In and were shown our rooms Velo. Storage was on our patio and there were bikes on nearly all of the patios in our row of rooms.
We were to be here for 3 nights so we took the chance to do a full unpacking of our panniers and get some washing done before we hit our single beds!!
Stats Distance 26 miles
Climb 84 feet