Goodbye Rain

Weather’s been shitty for the past 10 days, enough of this!

Headed East, where it’s supposed to be sunny! This is my route.

The road’s rough, but fall colors are most pleasant.

No rain, but I’m still under lots of clouds.

Don’t miss a curve, it’s a long way down. Little stream is a freebie.

Sun ahead! Flawless victory!

Leaves and general autumness. Not a lot of traffic here, that slight green color in the middle of the road? It’s moss!

At the end of the mountains. Sun everywhere. Fuck yeah.

Going down towards … Dufort? I think? Doesn’t matter anyways, it’s a tiny tiny village.

Pine trees all over.

After Soreze, this is officially the Black Mountain forest. Pretty nice place.

Small bridges abound.

And they all have a plaque with a specific number. OCD me enjoyed that.

Bokeh!

Ok, normal version.

House lost in the woods.

Yet another photo break. I do that a lot.

Again in pine trees going back south.

And a last break in the middle of nowhere.

Walking around the Cité

No bike today, felt like visiting the Cité as it’s only 30mins away. On foot.

Saying it’s big would be an understatement

Sorry, I’m a bit of history geek at times.

Outer walls, inner walls, and a castle within said inner walls. All of that on top of a 260m tall hill. People actually live in there, as cool as it sounds I’m not sure I would want that.

The more astute viewers will notice the different architectures, especially in roofing.

People started living on the hill as early as 300BC. The actual castle and walls began early in the XIth century, then abandoned it in the XVIIth.
America wasn’t yet discovered when people started getting bored with this place. Just a parallel. 😆
Civil War is when they really deserted it.

The Cité goes abandoned and crumbles until the first round of restoration in 1853.

Very controversial restoration since the architect took some liberties, especially with the gothic pointy roofing, and the main gate drawbridge (which previously did not exist, at all)

Said main gate, drawbridge and moat.

Now I’m just walking between outer and inner walls.

Plenty of space. Takes 30-45min to walk all around.

Tiny stairs. Designed this way to ensure assailants would climb one by one. I don’t even know why I know this.

An idea of scale. That’s a motorcycle entering the doorway at the base of the tower.

Around the back. It’s muddy and tight. I am not making this up. Promised.

More guard towers.

View of the newer city and surroundings.

More gates. Again, narrow to make sure no army massively rushes in.

That’s a lot of stone.

More view of the surroundings.

More gates.

More tower.

Another minor yet imposing entrance. These towers are said to be more historically accurate than the pretty slate roofed ones.

Inside. Narrow streets.

It was pretty crowded. That’s what I get for going on a Sunday. Oh well.

Period accurate clothing. *facepalm. God I hate touristy shit.

Yo dawg, I heard you like castles, so we put a castle in yo castle in yo castle. aka, the castle within the inner walls. Yep, it’s got its own moat.
Also, example of controversial slate roof restoration.

More narrow streets.

Trying to leave is a labyrinth.

Salvation!

View from the bottom of the hill

And that’s that for the Cité. I can’t complain I didn’t see it anymore! I might have to go back on a quiet day to check out the interior castle.

Quick afternoon jaunt …

Since the forecast called for rain for tomorrow, I decided to go out somewhere, anywhere.

It’s still sunny and 20 degrees, so I should make the most of it.

Went up north, a small loop via Lastours, Pradelles-Cabardes and Cabrespine. Pretty short, but this is only an afternoon jaunt, and it’s 2pm already.

Google Maps Route

No names on the map, the left spot is Lastours, the one on top is Pradelles-Cabardes and the one on the right is Cabrespine.

Let’s take off. I’ve already done 140km since I last filled up. I rode easy (back from Toulouse on a new tire), the fuel light will probably come on around 170km. Don’t want to make a detour for gas straight away. “meh, surely I’ll find gas in the next 30km!”.

Famous last words.

As I’m leaving some roadworks make me miss a power center of sorts where I knew there was gas. No biggie. I’ll fill up later.
Next village, “this must be big enough for gas”. Nope.
I’m now in the mountains, Lastours. “This is touristy, there ought to be gas here”. Nope.
I keep pushing on … but this is not good. Villages keep getting smaller, and if the gas light comes on now, I won’t have enough to go back. Dammit.

In addition, the road sucks, very bumpy.

Fuck it, turn around! The road isn’t fun enough to keep on going, and I’m not sure where I’ll find a gas station.
A bit later the gas light does come on, as predicted at the 170km mark. Shortly after, I go by a sign saying Carcassonne – 11km. Good thing I turned around.

So no, I did not run out of gas, managed to fill up and all. But this is the first time I actually had to turn around due to lack of gas stations. I didn’t like it.

Anyways. The road to Lastours sucked, I’m going up the other way, towards Cabrespine.

And thankfully, it’s much better. Not as perfect as the picture makes it appear, but pleasant. And it’s pretty.

As I’m stopped and taking pictures, I hear noise in the woods. Canadian habits kicking in “oh crap! Bear! To the bike! No! Act dead! No! Run downhill! … wait a second.” Turns out it was a family walking in the woods picking up these. They’re delicious.

I keep on going. Much further, a sign. Pic de Nore. Oh, I’ve heard of that. As you may or may not have noticed, I have a tendency to look for altitude. That thing sounds like it’s high up.

The road is rough, it’s moderately fun. It’s getting cooler, as well. And once up top at 1211m, it’s 9 degrees and windy as fuck. Still comfy with all the gear and sun.
I take a picture of the giant pen… antenna.

And what a view. All the way at the end, sort of in the sky, those are the Pyrenees you can see.

I took this picture to illustrate how windy it was. I failed. But it was very windy.

It is autumn indeed.

The village of Pradelles-Cabardès. Had I not turned around in the beginning, this is where I was hoping to find gas. LOL!

End of the mountains.

Sun hiding away.

Also, I made a quick video.

Little pause by the Canal du Midi. I was hoping to see some boats go up or down the locks, but no such luck.

New tire at last!

[read in Clarkson voice for full effect]

This week, in southern France! I get a new rear tire and I carry a loaf of bread!

I’m so glad to be rid of the Power Pure, I hated it. The Metzeler M5 already seems better!

Off to eat that bread with terrine and cheese. Peace. *makes awkward gang sign*

Cote Vermeille and Salvador Dali’s neighborhood

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”

Oh shit.

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.

“Si.”

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.

Cap Béar in the distance.

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.