Thursday, August 31, 2006

Long haul to Narbonne

View To Narbonne in a larger map

I wake feeling fragile, and as I already have lunch packed, only breakfast lightly. Weather forecast is cool start, hot later, with mistral dying down.

The morning is almost too crisp under the plane trees, so I manage a good pace, about 13 kph over the paths, despite roots like sleeping policemen, or just knots that can catch a pedal, reaching the half-way mark by 11, where I stop for brunch, feeling recovered enough to be hungry. In terms of canal-side scenery, this is the most interesting, with all sorts of furniture - crossing over a river, various drains



and little villages that basked in the sun.

By 1pm, the canal path was replaced by road, and in places, was unshaded. Finally it came to a parting of the ways. I had no directions to indicate if the canal path was cyclable to and along the junction canal to the Robine canal in Narbonne, so at the hottest point of the day had to leave the shade completely.

Parting of the ways

The open road

This also took me out into rolling country, rather than the only gradients being up and over bridges I couldn't pass under, which comes as a shock to the system, as does the rather busy road I'm directed onto for a while; so I take a bit of a detour through narrow lanes to rejoin the route at Moussan. The terminal guidance to the hotel is a bit vague; and though I did what it said in terms of left and right, I'm not sure if this was the route I was meant to take. Anyhow, the canal was obvious, and from there the hotel was signed, and it was just a short push.

The guy on reception was surprised that I'd arrived as early as 14:30; but my bag was there, and the room had a much needed air-conditioner. This time the room had hot water, but I didn't feel like fighting a shower curtain, and did a flannel wash and feel much better, and doze for an hour or so to make up for last night.

Going out, the heat is oppressive. I recce the restaurant I'm supposed to be eating at in the Rue Droite (the road helpfully marked on the Google map I'd printed), then to find the station, which is about 10min from the hotel. The other restaurant is in the Place des Jacobins, which isn't on any map, but I find it by random walk; though I'm not impressed when I do. There is a nice looking crêperie close by which I earmark instead, and then go back to the room via Monoprix for lunch tomorrow.

The Jardin de Narbonne in Rue Droite is not functional at 19:45, so I do the crêperie anyway. It was still not functional on the way back to the hotel either, as I amble back via the prettily illuminated streets.


JazzBaby3 said...

Hi. I found your blog via Google. I'm planning a trip similar to this one you took last year. You hired a bike, yes? How did you carry your gear? You mention a backpack. You didn't cycle with it did you? Have you ever tried taking your own bike and panniers on the French trains? Sorry for all the questions - I hope to learn from your experience. Ta

Steve Gilham said...

All the French cycling holidays are arranged through Bell France, who either organise the holidays or act as agents for a French company who do similar holidays.

They provide the bike; they book the hotels and the trains; they transport the bulky baggage between hotels. So all I have to do is manhandle the luggage on the trains via Paris and then just cycle with just the "wanted on voyage" stuff like camera and lunchbox between hotels.

The East Anglian holidays I do are a similar deal, with Suffolk Cycle Breaks doing all the heavy lifting, physical and metaphorical.

I definitely don't want to try taking a bike on the train to France as well, nor have to carry a week's worth of changes of clothes while I'm cycling.

JazzBaby3 said...

Thank you Steve. A most full and informative answer. I'll check out Bell France. Muchos appreciations.