Path of the Rights of Man

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We planned to follow this rail trail today from Albi to Castres and, calooh callay, we found it without difficulty (or any good online directions) leaving the D71 just south of Puygouzon. We think that the Chemin des Droits de l’Homme owes more to Thomas Paine than Cory Bernardi. It served us well today.

With negligible grades we spun along through green hilly farmland and oak and beech forests with occasional very fine rain that barely dampened us. The path is unsealed but well-groomed with a firm dolomite surface and took us all the way into Castres.

We paused for a pedestrian tour of the hill town of Lautrec which must have been a strong contender with Cordes-sur-Ciel as one of France’s most beautiful towns but with less commerce and fewer tourists.

Walking through Lautrec’s sinuous streets we saw an old windmill, several artisanal pastel (woad) dyeing studios and many half-timbered houses. In clear weather the Pyrenees would have been visible stretching along the southern horizon.

We failed to find an open cafe in Lautrec so back on the bikes and off to Castres. After the requisite coffee (“deux creme s’il vous plait” is all you really need to say) I took my bike to a bike shop for a much needed headset adjustment before the fast Pyreneean descents that we expect in the coming days.

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