The Cote Vermeille is another of my “ooooh, I have to go there” destinations. FYI, it’s the mediterranean coast as France turns into Spain. I went “all the way” to Cadaqués, as per a friend’s fantastic recommendation.
But first, I have to get there. It’s 150km away, and this Sunday morning greets me with 11 degrees. Sure it’s warmer than Montreal and sunny, but still. Quite chilly for the first hour or so, especially as I make my way via fast main roads.
Soon enough, I get to St Paul de Fenouillet. This is where I’m leaving the main road, to head right across the southern Corbieres area. It’s dry, rather desolate garrigue and rough terrain. It looks pretty.
The road is brand new, snaking its way through grapevines, with super picturesque villages here and there. No pictures of any of that, just a video.
I stop at an observation point, overlooking a dam and lake. There haven’t been many people observing from here in quite some time.
Shame because the views are nice.
This is the way out. See why I said “not many people come up here”?. You do.
More twisties and twisties. How much twisty? This much twisty.
Soon the road ends up on a flat valley, leading to the sea in the (long) distance.
Cue in an hour of boring villages. Lots of roundabouts. Some pretty castles, churches and cathedrals, but that’s about it.
Until … THE SEA!I’m clearly very excited.
I get lost all the time. Too many villages, too many roundabouts, and never one indication saying “Pretty road by the sea -> this way”.
I ride by a sign saying “Tour de Madeloc”. Oh! I know that! It’s a XIII century tower overlooking the area, from 650m high. Let’s do this.
The road is narrow, steep, rather rough and no railings whatsoever. Intimidating. The camera angle makes it look like I’m really close to the cars when we cross (@1:05 & 1:16). It’s quite an accurate representation of reality. Must be fun when two cars do the same!
Unfortunately, I bailed from walking all the way to the tower itself. Walking an hour in full moto gear … blah. But the view is still quite spectacular. Again grape vines in the foreground, and the cities of Argeles, Port Vendres or Collioure by the sea. Nice.
The hillside road. You can see the tower up top, there. No, not there. There. There, got it.
Very nice. It makes me completely miss the towns of Port Vendres and Collioure. Whoops. Too bad.
With all these shenanigans, it’s getting quite late. Time to find food. Well, that’s not too difficult. Village, central plaza by the sea, plenty of restaurants. Well, by plenty I mean 2. And one’s closed.
Everyone looks at me like I’m some sort of alien. Which is fair, with the GoPro on the helmet, the back protector and all the gear, it takes a bit of time to undress enough to sit and eat comfortably. ATGATT has its limits.
What do I eat? Well I’m by the sea! Fish! And mussels. They’re quite good, but nothing compared to the dessert, a Creme Catalane, which looks suspiciously similar to a Creme Brulee. And it smells. So. Good. I stood there 10mins just smelling the burnt and crispy sugar (well, caramel now) before digging in. Yum. Drool now.
After a hefty and delicious lunch, time to push on further, towards Spain!
I’ve been advised to go all the way to Cadaqués. It’s Salvador Dali’s town, did you know? I’m saying this to look cultured, but I don’t care much about his work. So screw you Salvador, I’m not here for you.
First, I have to get there. Same as France, sleepy villages and towns hidden in the landscape by the water. Actually no. They’re towns. Bigger. More people.
Also, Spaniards drive like assholes.
I make a wrong turn and get lost in a tiny village. The streets are ridiculously narrow. Sorry guys, I woke you all up.
Gas light comes on. As it often does. I rode by a gas station 2mins ago, turn around. Usual process, select expensive fuel, top up, pay. I walk to the old man in the station, he greets me.
“Buenas tardes senor, quince y cuarenta y dos”
I forgot I was in Spain. What do I do now? People speak spanish. Panic! Run! No. Wait. Right. I can answer this adequately. I can speak spanish, sort of. I got this. Let’s answer this gentleman politely, and show him I’m not a philistine. I can’t just mutter “striungeblhe no entiendo fniniowenf” and hand him money, that’s what savages do. Big fat lazy tourists with cameras around their neck. I’m not one of those people. I should greet him back. Perhaps I could slide in some sort of fine pleasantry in my response? Some refined pun reflecting the current state of Spanish politics? That’d be a beautiful victory for civilized man. Come on, me! Come up with something good, modern, engaging, polite, clever yet casual.
Yep. That’ll do.
After this brilliant piece of international cooperation, I take pictures with my big camera and my hawaian shirt.
Towards Cadaqués now! The road is cutting through the hills. It’s fantastic. No picture can do it justice. Neither does the video. It’s undoubtedly the best part of today’s trip. There were many bikes, another sign of its goodness.
Coming down on the city.
The town itself is easily the most crowded today. Quite touristy, yet very nice. As previously mentioned, I’m immune to the whole Dali thing, so I don’t waste time with the fellow.
Enough of this Spain thing! It’s getting late and I do have to get home eventually.
The roads on the way back are quite crowded, cars, busses, bikes. Easily dealt with, but they make stopping for pictures slightly more arduous.
Coming back in France at the abandoned customs station. It’s pretty derelict as you can see. I really like the shitty Bar sign.
More pics on the way back. I love evening light. And the subject doesn’t suck. In this creek hides the town of Cerberes, where I had lunch.
The roads are … well. Twisty. Hillside, vines to the left, sea to the right. Beautiful.
Shortly after, I head back inland, home. And I’m reminded how great this bike is on smooth roads. After the sun does set, I’m reminded how much the headlights suck.
A good day, but a bit disappointed by the scenery. Perhaps too crowded and inhabited? The roads were absolutely fantastic though.