Over the Black Mountain

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We tried but failed to get le petit dejeuner in Castres and had to be satisfied with coffee augmented by pain au raisin and pain au chocolat. Then it was along the road and up the hill, a long gentle climb through the forest up the Montagne Noire that lies between Castres and Carcassonne. At the top, the Col de Fontbruno at 880m, we met a group of cyclists dressed in various luminescent colours who greeted us and took our photo.

As we began the long descent we had our first sighting of the Pyrenees, towering in the distance with snow on top. Today’s climb was a good warm up for what lies ahead.

The weather on the southern side of the mountain is warmer and the landscape more Mediterranean with vines, olive trees, pines and cypress trees. As we approached Carcassonne it was quite hot. After cold drinks and lunch it was time for siesta in the deep shade by the river with the citadel above.

By 5pm we had revived enough for a brief touristic effort so we pedalled up to an entrance and entered. The citadel is best viewed from without as inside it is full of tourist shops and cafes. The church has given the stone masons of the past the chance for creativity with the inclusion of carved heads, each one unique, high on the walls. One with big ears was obviously Tony Abbott with Margaret Thatcher next to him.

Our home for tonight is in an old farmhouse a few km out of the town, surrounded by vines and fruit trees, with Couchsurfing host Yves. We took an evening walk through the fields and could see the citadel lit up on the skyline, a beautiful sight.

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