Lagrasse - Bizanet: Going Dutch - France: Between the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees - CycleBlaze

August 29, 2007

Lagrasse - Bizanet: Going Dutch

We wake up to cloudy skies. Some rain has fallen during the night and our tent has done its job well and kept us dry. We make it to Fabrezan, just ten kilometers away, for our morning coffee and a roof over our heads when it begins to rain again. It drizzles on and off in the course of the morning, but I'm not complaining. Aside from today we have sunshine for two weeks.

After a bit of rain during the night, we leave Lagrasse under grey skies
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We are now out of the hills, the weather has turned cool and we work our way from village to village on our way to Bizanet, where we expect to find a campground according to our research in the Internet. The campground is located at a convenient distance from Fontfroide and shall be our base for visiting the Abbey of Fontfroide tomorrow. Founded in 1145, it is one of the most complete abbey complexes remaining today.

Entranceways in wine-growing villages, big enough to let loaded wagons pass through
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In Bizanet
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This is all wine-growing country, vineyards line the roads
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After a bit of a search and a telephone call asking directions to the campground, which turns out to be Dutch-run, we find it a few kilometers out of town on a hill overlooking slopes of parasol pines. For the moment we are the only campers in a tent and not in some kind of camping vehicle. We are also the only non-Dutch guests here.

It doesn't take long to set up our tiny tent and tend to the laundry, which leaves me at leisure to observe our fellow campers. Another Dutch couple have just arrived and are maneuvering their trailer onto the designated site. It's not so easy to steer a trailer when driving in reverse I see, and it involves a few minor scrapes with the parasol pines. When the trailer has been parked at the approximate location, the silver-haired driver disengages the car from the trailer and then with a remote control unit which he tells us is called a mover, proceeds to steer his trailer to the desired spot. A little bit to the right, a little bit forward, a little to the left, then back ... and ka-boom! Oh no, he didn't see that pine tree.

I'm feeling just a little smug now, I ride a bike with two little panniers and sleep in a tent. I don't create exhaust, I don't damage pine trees, ... But when not much later the Dutch gentleman and his wife come over to offer us two chairs so that we can sit more comfortably, I feel quite ashamed for gloating. They also kindly let us use their hook-ups to recharge our batteries. The owners of the campground were not so generous as to grant us this service.

Camping in Bizanet
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View from our camping site
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At the entrance to the campground next to the reception there are a few tables where you can have a drink or a bite to eat. Some campers and the owners of the campground are passing the time of day and we are writing in our journals when a family of five cyclists, one with a trailer, arrives. Father, mother, their three young daughters and a dog in the trailer.

It seems that dogs are not allowed here although the owners have two large dogs themselves. It is only after the father insists that his daughters are too tired to cycle to the next campground this evening that the owners grudgingly allow them to stay. Cycle culture meets RV culture. And when the family is out of earshot, the comments: "Those poor children! They should have the dog pulling the children!" And so on.

The family is from Kirchberg, a small town in Bavaria, and is following a similar route to our own. We enjoy exchanging information and are full of admiration for their family adventure.

German family we met in Bizanet: Here the next morning with two of their three daughters on their way to the bakery to buy pain au chocolat. That's me in the red jacket. Sorry we didn't get a better picture of the family.
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