Friday, September 01, 2006

Seaside Outing


View To the sea in a larger map

Woke just in time to check my watch and then hear the clock on the Archbishop's palace chime 05:00. Why? At least I can do a dry run for tomorrow.

Once I've cleared the little bit of road and can get on to the canal path, it's cycling into the low sun, dodging joggers and oncoming cyclists. The sign after about 4 miles to Gruissan leads me off the suggested route, but on to a paved and essentially cycle-only road through the vineyards, and then the salt marsh.

The old tower of the castle appears against the bright sky, then as I loop around the bay, into clear view

Chateau at Gruissan

Gruissan

the bay where the flamingoes are feeding.

There is a cyclepath around the edge of the town, but it's being repaired or upgraded, so I'm on the road most of the way, till past the bridge, then it's on to chunky aggregate and then a real path to Gruissan-plage. Here I cycle past the beach houses, up on stilts, only the garages on the ground floor, to the sandy beach. This has been bulldozed clean along the tide line, but is otherwise undisturbed, with bird tracks.

I park the bike, and wander barefoot over the sand, which is just firm and cool enough to be pleasant; the sea water is very chill.

I loop around the island, taking every wrong turn, then rejoin the canal at Mandirac, turning left to Port La Nouvelle. Past that point, the plane trees give way to cypress

Cypress

Canal path south of Mandirac

this is hard work as it's into sea breeze, and is rough underfoot. The canal or the salt marsh beyond smell sulphurous. There is a picnic place at the St Lucie lock, but it requires getting a drawbridge across the canal operated, so I give it a miss.

P l/N is rather tacky seaside where it isn't working port, but there's a place at the end of the main street where I can park and sit on a bench to have lunch, then start the grind back.

I surprise myself at taking only about 3min to pass one pair of km markers, so ease off; but it is good to get back under the shade of the plane trees.

I spot something weird that has factory like corrugated metal between two old looking stone towers, a mixture of ecclesiastical and industrial, as I return to Narbonne; and closer, can see the canalside parts of town that I missed in the morning in the low sun. The bright weather makes it not too drab, but it's scarcely a pretty town; and I do have to dodge the usual drunks along the path.

Park and hand over bike, then shop for the morning. The hotel cat is lying on the pavement outside like it had melted. I agree, and have another siesta, then decide to do the crêperie again, even though the paid-for place is open (yesterday's still isn't).

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