La Grande Boucle de Pyrenees travel blog

Tent town on the banks of the Tarn in Ste. Enimie.

St Cheley du Tarn, I think. A lovely town on the far...

Tunnels on the road along the gorge.

A view along the Tarn gorge from a lookout that we had...

Thsi B and B seemd to have its sole access by means...

An early view of the spectacular Millau Viaduct. It supports a four...

In this part of France it seems that "1.5m matters". Most drivers...

Another view of the Millau viaduct. It is more impressive than any...

This village seems almost part of th rock face. There is even...

After lunch we had a hot climb which was rewarded by a...

Looking along the Sorgues river which runs through St Affrique.


Day 7 Ste. Enimie to Belmont sur Rance.

Another early start after the first cold night I have experienced here so far. We continued down the Gorges du Tarn for the next 80km or so with the river gradually become wider and slower. The rafting and canoeing centres gave way to more agricultural pursuits. At the beginning the ride through the gorge was quite cool as the sun didn't rise high enough to hit the road until nearly 9:00am. I couldn't help wondering just how many hours of direct daylight some of these places get during deep winter. I suspect that some villages might only get an hour or two. Some villages, on the other side of the gorge, were serviced by a 'flying fox' arrangement from our side of the gorge. One can only imagine how many loads it takes to get the supplies across. There didn't seem to be any roads to the village.

One gite (French for Band B) seemed to have its only access by such a contraption. In many places the road passed through short tunnels or under overhangs which made it quite spectacular. Lunch was just past the city of Millau which is now famous for the magnificent viaduct across the Tarn valley. It is immensely high above the ground and carries a four lane highway for nearly 20 km. Of course I took some photos but they don't do it justice.

It's funny how the morning passes so quickly to the lunch stop and then the afternoon seems to drag interminably. I suppose part of it is due to the increasing heat although I shouldn't complain when Maree told me it was only 10 degrees in Melbourne today. Any breeze seems to turn into a headwind after lunch (maybe that's just my imagination)

Just so this doesn't always seem like just a series of ride descriptions let me tell you about some of the people. Let's start with Anneke, she is the cook and is doing this job on her own for the first time. She was helping out on the Alps ride. Her usual job is to run a catering company with her husband. Somehow, with five large pots, she manages to turn out delicious and hearty meals for 50 hungry riders and crew. She is ably assisted by her daughter Elske who is on this tour for the first time. The cooks get a lot of help from the non riding partners with Teresa, Franc's wife, and Rosanna, Eduardo's wife, making a big impact. We have had a couple of Brazilian deserts courtesy of Rosanna. Carla, Simon's partner is always present at the lunch stops and does a lot of the preparation as do a couple of other older ladies whose names I haven't learned yet. Probably the big miracle worker is Richard who seems to be able to get almost any bike with a problem to run smoothly. He will often stay up, while the rest of us go to bed early, fixing and tuning bikes for anyone who had a problem. He is a real joker and likes to surprise us with his inventiveness. At lunch today, under the Millau viaduct, he recreated a bridge using stools, bananas, oranges and some rope. It was quite a masterpiece.

Just a couple of other notes before bed. We just had a fabulous dinner consisting of duck fillet in a plum sauce with mashed potatos and vegetables (also salad on the table). The duck was so tender it was unbelievable that it was cooked on a camp stove. For desert we had partly cooked fruit topped with some sort of custard. Yum!! I'm sure I'll come back weighing more than I left despite all the exercise. Secondly, the road today passes through the Roquefort cheese producing area and I have seen heaps of signs inviting tourists to stop in and take a free cellar tour. So far however I haven't seen an actual sign for one of these chees cellars. I'll be interested to stop in if we happen to pass a cheese factory.



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