Wednesday, 18 September 2019
We picked the right day for a bike ride yesterday as the forecast for Wednesday was rain and thunder storms. We awoke to the surroundings hills covered in low cloud. However by 9:30 the cloud had lifted and the sun came out. We decided on a short ride up the valley and the go to the Balnea (spa) in the afternoon. We first rode round the the lake . The road then followed the steam up the valley. If I had plotted the ride before hand I would have realised that the 5 miles to the end of the valley included over 300 metres of climbing with some sections over 10 percent. Are efforts we rewarded with some good views across the valley to Genos where we stopped to take photos before contributing to the hydoelectic power station at Pont de Prat where the road finished and some walking tracks begun. We returned to Genos stopping to watch a helicopter carring loads of building materials up the mountain. We fancied a Gallette for lunch but we could not find a restaurant that were saving them so visited the supermarket and returned to our appartment for lunch. A few spots of rain started to fall as we reached the lake but not enough to get wet.
After a lunch and a shower to remove the sun cream we drove the short distance to the Balnea. We paid for 3 hours and could have stayed longer. We went thoght a variety of pools, saunas , steams rooms, cold plunges, ice rooms and Roman baths. We sat outside in the Japanse pools and watched the surrounding clouds descend and could here thunder in the distance. We made it to the hottest pool before the outside pools were closed becouse the risk of lightening. After a quick shower we made it out just inside our allotted time. The rain was now so heavy we sat inside waiting for it to subside for 20 minutes before we left.
We investaged the local restaurants for our evenning meal but with some having a main course starting at 25 euros decided to go to the supermarket instead. We had a fine 3 couse meal. A started of salmon rillette, followed by baked Alaskan pollac and a desert of a caramel tartelette served with a Cahors red.
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
We left the 3 Lions just before 10:30. Dave the English owner was in the process of selling to a French lady. He had greeted plus on our arrival and came round with the breakfast on our first morning had gone off touring in his new motor home. We never meet the French lady so left the money we owed for our breakfast on the kitchen table along with the keys and left. We drove to Foix found some free parking a short distance from the centre and then spent an hour exploring the old town on our bikes.
The route to Genos took us though St Girons the end of the velo vert we cycled to on our first day in Foix.
Just down the road at St Lizier was another short section of voie vert that started from St Lizier and ran down the valley to Prat Bonrepaux.
After a little help from Google maps we located the start. There was not a dedicated car so we parked in supermarket car park. The first few km we quite scenic but the last half were alongside the road. We cycled to the end of the path then through the village before returning to St Lizier. The bikes were put back on the car and we drove up the hill to the old part of the town. We had time for a quick tour and the first ice cream of the holiday. We arrived in Genos just after 6:00. We stayed in the appartment in 2016 so this time had no difficulty finding it. We were greated by the owners uncle who lives next door. He remembered us from our last visit. We put our bikes in his garage and he gave us the keys for the appartment. A trip to the supermarket provided provisions for tea and we then planned Tuesday's bike ride.
Monday, 16 September 2019
Sunday, 15 September 2019
Another fine day was forecast so we decided to cycle the Voie Vert that runs for 24 miles between Lavelanet and Mirepoix. According to the signs the route has now been extended and it is now possible to continue to the Canal du Midi. A ride for another trip.We ignored Kate's suggestion and took the main road out of Foix.we located parking at the start of the voie vert in Lavelnet and once we applied a protective layer of sunscreen set off cycling. The surface was mixed
It was very good in places but parts were a very rough track. Signs were also lacking at a couple of key points but we eventually found the route. The disadvantage in starting from Lavelanet is its a gentle down hill to Mirepoix which you have to ascent coming back . We arrived in Mirepoix at 13:20 and cycled into the town . We sat in the 13 century arcaded market square and had a gallette for lunch. On leaving the town we cycled with an English couple who used to life in Chorley for a few km before they decided a more gentle pace was in order. We diverted of the track at
Chalabre, a sleepy village that had seen better days. When our search for an ice cream failed we sat I the shade under halle and watched two men assemble a couple of plastic tables. One of the spoke to us later apparently they were having a village "aperitif" for someone that was leaving. I heard vicar and Lyn thought he said baker.We may have been invited but we needed to cycle back. We arrived back I Lavelanet just before 6:00 the bikes we put on the car and we failed again to find a shop selling ice creams so we returned to the 3 Lions to prepare a Spanish omelette for tea. The temperature climbed to above 27 degrees during the day but unlike yesterdays ride the voie vert provided a lot of shade.
Saturday, 14 September 2019
Todays ride was a circular route taking in Le Mas D'Azil . A cave that has in addition to a river, a road going though it. I modified the route from the one that was described on the Lonely Planet guide book
We parked by the voie vert we rode on Friday but this time at Baulou and not at the start . The first few miles were on the voie vert before turned off it and had a gentle climb up the hill.
After a loop round and some up and down we rejoined it again at Bastide-Serou. We took the voie vert round the town and followed it for a few miles before turning off on the road to Le Mas D' Azil . The forecast temperature of 28 degrees was an underestimate. After some more climbing will short sections at 10 percent we were rewarded with a long descent. We turned onto the main road at the bottom of the hill and after a few miles we had arrived the cave. It was 1:20 and we were ready for lunch. I ordered 2 pannins filled with loczl cheese and ham from a cafe by the cave entrance .Fortunatly a table became available just after I ordered. After the late lunch we cycle though the cavern. The river ran on the left hand side . We stopped 100 yards in by the entrance to the museum and bought some postcards but passed on the 9 euro tour. We continued to Sabarat stopping at glass blowers on route. I added short extension to the route at Sabarat which we followed it involved a couple of additional climbs. It was hard work in the heat. The top of the climb offered good views accross to the Pyrenees and but on hindsight may have been better left for another day. The last 10 miles back to the car was pleasant ride but very hot. A round trip of 35 miles with 2800 feet of ascent
Bikes were put on the car and Kate selected a cross country route with single track roads to take us back the 3 Lions.
We arrived without incident and a vegetable curry was prepared for tea.
Thursday, 12 September 2019
Breakfast was typically French. Homemade yoghurt ,fresh croissants, bread and homemade jam and coffee. Franchise taught in a local school and left us to finish our breakfast and lock up. We decided to cycle on the velo vert that runs from the centre of Castres to just outside Albi. We had cycled 34km of it from Abli towards Castres in 2010 and a report of the day can be found on this blog. Google directed us to the start. It was a gentle ascent for the first 10km as we left Castres behind. The temperature dropped a little as we slowly ascended leaving Lyn to question if not wearing legs and leaving her gloves in the car was the right decision. By mid afternoon it was over 22 degrees in the shade and the decision was definitely correct. A short diversion from the route at Lombers enabled us to find a Boulangerie to buy some pizza slices and bread for lunch . The majority of the route which is on the old railway line it on compacted stone with a few short sections on tarmac. We continued to the parking spot at Aire Is Vigame where the signs ran round 2,7 km from the end. We could see the route of the old railway line but it looked like the voie vert continued on the down the hill on the road. We decided to turn round at that point.
We arrived back to Castres around 5:00pm and cycled to d the old part of the town.
We eat at "Sans Chai les Jumeuc" a popular tapas resturant run by two twin brothers. Friendly service and good food. We return to the B&B and amused ourselves adjusting the electric bed before retiring for the night.