Six of us from Vancouver, Rod and Gail (the oldies at 71), Andy, Luke
and Virginia, Dan and Natalie, decided to rent velos de ville from
Philippe Sauvage for our self guided tour into the Arriege and Aude from
Toulouse. All of us were reasonably fit and we knew the trip would
involve some climbing, but we wanted to have energy left each day for
sightseeing, so we tried to limit each day to less that 70 km.
Our trip began with a tour of the canals and
waterways in Toulouse on a beautiful September day, and then we went
south on the Canal du Midi to Villefranche de Lauragais where we sampled
the local cassoulet at dinner in our hotel. The next day we followed
the canal for a couple of hours and then climbed through the rolling
hill to Mirepoix for lunch, and then on to Pamiers for the night. In the
morning we made our way to Foix,and then on to Niaux where we explored
the famous prehistoric caves, with some paintings 14,000 years old,
before returning to our hotel, and a great meal in the shadow of the
Chateau de Foix. The following morning we got an early start and did
the testing climb to the Chateau de Montsegur, the famous fortress where
the Cathar “heretics” were massacred. We lunched at a local restaurant
and then descended to the interesting town that time forgot, Chalabres.
The meal there in the Hotel de France, was a surprising treat in a
quiet country town. Then it was on through the vineyards to Limoux and
the famous walled City of Carcassonne. There were interesting stops en
route to watch the vineyard owners scare away the birds with shotguns,
and, of course, to sample the local wine. And after a night in
Carcassonne and a visit to the famous walled city, back to Toulouse
along the canal.
A great tour through some very interesting cycling country, with sparsely travelled roads and excellent food, wine and hospitality at every stop.