Into the Pyrenees

by

Our generous Couchsurfing host Yves cooked us muesli for breakfast (we would call it porridge) and we left early to beat the Carcassonne rush hour. We enjoyed our final stretch along the Canal du Midi (rather more care-worn at this western end from our limited observation) before heading south.

We dodged the traffic by riding via Saint-Hilaire but copped two small cols to climb. We stopped for coffee in the Limoux main square where a group of old codgers with natty bicycle panniers gradually convened. After that we were resigned to sharing with the traffic for about 25 km up the Aude valley to Quillan. However at Esperaza we spotted a side road crossing the river seemingly offering a better option. Despite discouraging Route Barree signs and Garmin’s insistent pleas to turn back we persisted and encountered no more resistance than a mere red boom blocking the road for motor vehicles – nothing to us unruly cyclists. We happily rode the last half of the Limoux-Quillan leg on a quiet road, traffic free.

A long lunch break (with nap at the table for Rosalie) was followed by a short ride up a spectacular gorge (défilé de la Pierre-Lys) through a tunnel and under over-hanging rocks to Axat. Just before we arrived a French Air Force Dassault Rafale screamed overhead below the ridgetops – they must have heard we were coming.

Axat is a beautiful mountain village with high peaks all around and a lively stream flowing through the middle. It’s exciting to be in the Pyrenees at last with some big climbs to face over the next few days. A big dinner and a good night’s sleep is in order.

2 Responses to “Into the Pyrenees”

  1. Linepark Abroad (text by BP, photos by RL) Says:

    We’re looking forward to the Pyrenees too, from our arm chairs

  2. rosalind powrie Says:

    Hi Ian and Rosalie now you are getting to the pointy end of the journey love reading about the sights and your blogs and the food enjoy the more challenging pedalling on the beautiful mountains !xRos

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