Day 10: Castelnaudary to Carcassonne.
Trip total: 1048.37km
I had a very leisurely start to the morning, knowing that I only had 40km or so ahead of me to get to Carcassonne. I woke up late, then spent most of the late morning having breakfast with Connor, Alba, and Molly, the family who’d arrived and pitched up near me last night.
Connor is an engineer who works for Johnson & Johnson, and lives with Alba and Molly just outside Limerick in Ireland. Alba visited Ireland about 7 years ago for a summer, and never left, and is now a dance teacher. She’s pregnant with their second child (but still came cycle touring in France!), with the baby is due in December. They’ve been touring the Canal du Midi, which connects the Atlantic with the Mediterranean, running from Bordeaux through to Carcassonne and out to the coast from there.
After I’d packed up my kit this morning we said our goodbyes, but were due to be heading to the same place, Carcassonne today, and with a very limited number of campsites close to the city we knew it would be a possibility we’d end up at the same site, so I let them know I was heading to the municipal site close to the old walled city.
The short ride from Castelnaudary to Carcassonne was fantastic, with 30 of the 40km route taking me along the tow path next to the beautiful Canal du Midi, so I enjoyed flat, shady riding for most of the ride. The only negative was that the tow path gradually got more and more bumpy and poor quality, so I eventually gave up and joined the roads for the final 10km to Carcassonne.
The ride into Carcassonne was almost all downhill at 35-45kph all the way, and after popping into a supermarket on the outskirts of town I made my way to the campsite. It’s a great little 4 star municipal site (municipal usually meaning cheap for a cycling camper), and as I was sorting out payment in the reception Connor, Alba, and Molly turned up, carrying with them my towel, which I’d left hanging up at the Castelnaudary site and completely forgotten about.
We set up camp together, then agreed we all wanted to take a walk round the amazing old walled part of Carcassonne, which looks like something out of a film (indeed it is something out of a film, having featured in plenty). We rode our unloaded bikes along a cycle path towards the city, and then climbed the cobbled streets and into the ancient walls of the city. Words and photos can’t really do justice to Carcassonne, and it has to be seen to be believed.
We wandered through the narrow streets inside the huge walls for a couple of hours, then stopped for a couple of beers in a bar before heading back to the campsite, where we plan to pool our collective food items and concoct some kind of supper from them.
Tomorrow’s ride will take me to Leucate on the Mediterranean coast, and should be under 100km. Getting tantalisingly close to Ceret now, and a well deserved rest for a week.
I’m having problems uploading photos on this wifi connection, so today’s will have to be uploaded to the blog another time.