Google had the drive at around 5.5 hours , Via Michelin was longer and Kate estimated it at around 6 hours. We left just after 10 and arrived at 17:45. A journey of 7 hours 45 minutes with stops. We took the minor roads to Angouleme before we joined the A10. We stopped in a small village for an quiche and a loaf of bread lunch which we had at a rest area off the A10. The drive was uneventful and the roads not to busy. A long section of the route was a Peage but it was the most direct and quickest route and worth the 26 euros. We arrived at La Grange O Belle and enjoyed a pot of English tea with Jackie our host sat outside.We are eating at the B&B tonight and looking forward to our dinner.
One of the veterans had left early so we shared the breakfast table with the two other veterans. their wife's and another couple. We declined having any meat and were served homemade yoghurt, home made bread and jam and a home made spiced Dutch fruit loaf. As the forecast was going to be good we decided to cycle on the voie vert to the centre of Perigueux. The voie vert started 7km from the B&B but once we had climbed the track to the main road it was 6 km down hill that would have to be climbed in the heat of the day. Having descended the hill we diverted into St Astier before going the velo vert. It had only recently been completed and its route was not on a Google maps. It was 13miles to Perigueux. The majority of the route was on a dedicated tracks but did include some sections on shared roads. Some sections ran alongside the river and others were by the canal.
We went round the outskirts of Perigueux before going up to the old part of the city by the cathedral. We located a vegetarian resturant we would go back to later for lunch but first we explored the old part of the city. Perigueux were holding a 3 day cattle fair and we arrived go see the prize bull being displayed. It was then back to the vegetarian resturant for and excellent 3 course lunch. Good value at 16.5 euros. After lunch it was a slow ride back along the velo vert in the heat of the day. It was over 30 degrees as we climbed the 6km up the final hill to the B&B. Josie was not cooking on Friday evening so we decided on a pizza from the pizzeria in the local village. We sat outside to eat and returned to the B&B to finish a bottle of red wine we had opened earlier in the holiday.
Today we had to start or journey North. The car was packed and apartment tidied and we were ready to leave just after 10. As our route took us though the Almagnac region we decided to go via Michel Baylac a producer we had visited in 2014. The domaine was finally located with s little help from Google maps
but we were not sure they we open as we arrived at lunch time. A gentleman appeared and indicated for us to wait and he disappeared inside the house to finish his lunch .A lady came out. We started by tasting 2 red wines before moving on to 3 Armagnacs aged for different lengths of time. Armagnac and wine purchased we departed and found somewhere to stop for our Brexton lunch. We arrived at B&B Angueur just before 6. A text they send earlier in the afternoon provided the precise GPS coordinates to the end of their drive. It was then 900 meters down hill though a wood to the accomodation , the last 700 being on a stone track.
We were greeted by Josie who was busy tending her vegetable garden. She took us to our room is in a building attached to the main house. We declined the offer of a swim as the temperature was starting to cool . We had booked an evening st the accomodation . We shared a table with 3 veterans from the war for Algerian independence and there wives. They had been to a reunion at and extended their stay for a couple of nights .
We started with soup made for courgettes and gourdes from the garden, the main course was a salad of gesiers and duck rillette severed on a large platter and dessert an apple flan. The starter was severed with a Beragac white and the main a red. Although they spoke little English we managed to converse I our limited French. Conversations included Brexit, Boris, Trump and Americans labelling their wine as champagne . One of the veterans had worked as a viticulturist in Champange region. At the end of the evenning be announced he would like to share a bottle of champagne with his friends and the English. After the champagne the evenning ended on a surreal note. After wishing them good night and on our way back to our room we were called back to look at statue of St George slaying the Dragon he talked about earlier. It had cost him over 1100 euros and he had even made a frame so It could be carried and displayed . It was made of wood and about 2.5 feet height and very heavy. After he showed us his regimental flag we returned to bed.
It was a good forecast for Tuesday with the chance of thunder storms later in the afternoon. I planned a circular ride talking two of the cols that are regularly climbed on the tour de France . We started Arreau sbout half an drive away. The climb up to the Aspin starts on the outskirts the town. We had climbed it in 2013 but from the other side and a description can be found on this blog.
Photos were taken at the start of the climb but three quarters of a mile into the climb I realised my watch was sitting on my car roof. I had removed it when applying sunscreen. After a quick dash to the car I started the climb again while Lyn continued. The climb to the top was 12 km with boards at very km telling you how far you had climbed, how far you still had to go and the percentage elevation of the next km.We steadily made our way to the top, stopping to take photos and admire the view. The gradient was not too step with a maximum elevation of around 8 percent . We arrived at the top admired the views and found a spot away from the cows for lunch. (Bread and mixed nuts) . It was then decision time.A quick descent to the start or descending 1000 feet down the other side to Payolles and climbing back over the Hourquette d'Ancizan. We opted for the latter and after a quick decent to Payolles stopped to top but the sun cream. The climb started at few percent. We caught 2 riders on electric bikes that had also started to ascend. After a gentle first few kms the gradient increased to 7 - 8 percent, 5 km from the top Lyn was beginning to regret the descision. A piece of cake provided on energy boost and a km descent 4km from the top gave a welcome restbite for 1 km.We had got well ahead of the electric bikes but just like the truck in a Dual they appeared 2km from the top and overtook us. Photos were taken at the top and the last of our food eaten.It was then a quick descent to Arcizan before we returned via the main road back to Arreau. On the return back to Genos the rain started and Lyn set several segment records on Stava as she had not ended the ride. I corrected it later. When we got to Genos the rain was so heavy we waited in the car for it to subside before going into the super
Market. The riders we meet when we descending the Hourquette D'Ancizan would have got very wet . After a good meal including pork with a sauce made from tomatillos Lyn had brought from England a game of Carrot Hill kept us amused .
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.
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.
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.
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.