Thanks again to Elke who let me stay with her and rest again in Olargues. AfTer several days rest and a great time relaxing in n Olargues it was time to hit the road. Or cycle path.
The Voie de Vert that runs through Olargues was my route out, and 9 years ago my route in.
Elke offered to make me some Cous Cous for the road, but I’m happy with jam and bread. I said thanks. She still gave me lots of fruit to take which I was very grateful of.
The next part of the journey took me over a route I’ve cycled only once before and travelling in the opposite direction. I was keen to see how much I remembered.
I remembered the first time I entered Olargues and seeing the landmark Castrum.
I remembered taking a photo of a statue of the Virgin Mary on a hill. It’s still there. Although several new buildings stand between where I stood before and where it is. This becomes an ongoing theme.
I see new play parks and new tarmac on the cycleways. The latter part I like.
Elke mentioned there may be rain. And as I leave the rain can be seen in the mountains making a rainbow.
Further ahead the clouds look serious. These ones aren’t messing around. They are going to drop a significant amount of water. My expected end point for the day is Castelnaudary. There was a port there that last time I stayed with a boater who invited me on board, bike and all!
The rain starts and soon the Sandy pathway becomes waterlogged and I feel the tyres sinking into the wet sand. Slowing me further. The sand also washes up onto everything on the bike. Eventually as the rain eases I stop at a toilet and fill a water bottle to rinse off the bike and bags. It’s all over my shoes and all up my legs.
My route inadvertently takes me onto an N road. It’s like a busy A road in the U.K. and I can’t wait to get off of it. Eventually I’m onto country D roads again. Not before I reach Mazamet. Where I also find a McDonald’s.
McDonalds in France have also switched to multiple use plastic containers if you eat in. Overall, McDonalds seems to have gone downhill a bit. They always felt cleaner and a step up from the ones in the U.K. I’d now say they are only level, at best. Franchise owners making up their own laminated signs to say you must be 3-4 people to sit at certain tables. The fact they have banned single use packaging for eating in is a good step forward though.
I stopped in the town of Revel. It’s an old town on the way to Castelnaudary and I go to the tourist information to get a new map.
The buildings are very old, many still with the hand painted advertising.
I reach Castelnaudary and start to ride to the port. It’s further than I recalled and then headed for the municipal camping. Ordinarily municipal camping is excellent. The experience here to the contrary.
I turned up just before another couple. I’d tried emailing before but no reply. I enquired as to whether there was a space. The reception looked at the computer and I asked if I’d prebooked. Explaining I’d emailed but had no reply, so no. He looked again at the computer and asked whether it was one or two people. I explained one and was told it wasn’t possible and he advised me of another campsite 7km back east direction. I was headed west. I moved to the other side. Same questions to the the couple. No they hadn’t prebooked. But there was room for them! More than a little disgruntled I checked my map and continued for another 12 miles in the direction I wanted to go and found another municipal site that were a lot more accommodating.
The following day, fresh and up early I continued along the canal du midi. I pass a boat called “Profit”, one I’d passed in 2014 and had taken a photo of. I took another one.
My route took me through Tolouse. However I didn’t pass the library that I went into on The previous occasion. There is a grand square by the train station.
The cafes and salon de Thé look wonderful.
At Toulouse the route changes canals from the canal du midi to the canal du Garonne. A lot of this runs to the side of the river Garonne which was a treacherous waterway for merchants and the canal created to make it safer.
In Sérignac sir Garonne I see there is a campsite. When I arrived I was pointed towards it by a gentleman at the Pétanque club. Turns out it’s completely free! Beautiful area with hedges marking out spaces, each with room up to 3-4 tents. A separate shower, toilet and washing area included. outstanding and unbelievably free.
The river feeds the canal and more farmers are extracting water for the canals to irrigate crops of maize and fruit trees.
Just before Moissac I camped again. Another municipal site charging hardly anything. The facilities are great, even a stove and microwave.
A lot of cycle tourists are using these sites and a sign of modern cycle touring is prevalent. Electric sockets instead of charging mobile phones or power banks are charging E bike batteries. There seems to be too many things that have to be charged and I’m glad of my Dynamo hub and solar panel ensuring it’s not really an issue if all the sockets are used.
Coming through Moissac, a pretty town the bridge I remembered had a nice cobbled section with the year of building laid into it.
Onto the port of Buzet. I’d had a shower here for two euros before. A lot of the area had changed. A big new cafe and campsite have been built, but I manage to make a photograph again in the same locations.
That said only slightly further on I had previously camped by some boats. This would no longer be possible. Another cafe had been built and what was grass is now tarmac, with even more boats moored there.
Several of the lock houses are now cafes and one called Berry had been turned into a cafe.
Signs display the cost of these projects and where the funding comes from.
I stopped in La Reole where I had shelters froma storm before. Another fantastic campsite for just over €6 a night, with a fantastic view.
If finished early so took the opportunity to have a look round the town and back to where I’d sheltered.
Again lots of work has been done in the area.
Lots of new sculptures from the same artist are through the town.
The following day my route took me along the last part of the canal where it rejoined the River Garonne at Preignac. This part I hadn’t seen before.
I then headed toward Bordeaux and after covering almost 170 miles along mostly canals and flat land, the hills started again.
I’d booked another F1 hotel to ensure the bike was safe and to allow me to have a decent look around Bordeaux for an evening.