Bizanet - Gruissan: The north wind doth blow - France: Between the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees - CycleBlaze

August 31, 2007

Bizanet - Gruissan: The north wind doth blow

We have hazy plans as to the direction we now want to take. We were thinking of the Montagne Noire which lies to the north. We get as far as Montredon and have already gotten a taste of what it would be like if we continue in that direction. Not fun. I see a sign for a bike path to Narbonne. Neither of us know the city and we could take advantage of the strong northwest wind by heading toward Narbonne and then the coast. It's a great path and we have no hassle with traffic as we enter the city.

Bike path to Narbonne
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It was a good idea to visit Narbonne. It'a a pleasant city, more a large town actually, with the Canal de la Robine running through the center, linking Narbonne to the nearby Canal du Midi and the Aude River. Once a prosperous port, Narbonne is now located about 15 km from the shores of the Mediterranean.

Canal de la Robine, Narbonne
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We soon find our way to the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, the central square, and admire the Archbishop's Palace and the St. Just and St. Pasteur Cathedral, which was never completed. The proportions of the cathedral's interior are rather unusual as the Gothic apse and choir are very high but there is no nave.

In the cloister of St. Just et St. Pasteur
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Recently, work in the main square uncovered part of the Via Domitia, the Roman road connecting Italy to Spain. It's quite impressive to be able to stand on those very stones that so many feet had walked on over 2,000 years ago.

During construction, remains of the Roman Via Domitia were discovered under Narbonne's central square
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Interesting bicycle stands in Narbonne
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In the afternoon, we follow, or rather are blown along the peaceful and well sign-posted bicycle route on the Canal de la Robine to Gruissan. The small town with a castle ruin towering over it is situated on a spit of land surrounded by lagoons and is very picturesque.

Bike path along the Canal de la Robine
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Gruissan, late afternoon
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The wind is truly exceptionally strong, even for local standards. It's not just us cyclists complaining - everyone is. We decide to take refuge from the wind in a hotel. The tourist season is finished and we have no problem finding accommodation at a decent price with view of the port.

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