To Agde - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 29, 2022

To Agde

With a flat, modest ride on tap today and a hotel that allegedly doesn’t want to see our faces before four we’re in no rush to leave our B&B.  It’s nearly eleven when we start shoving panniers out the sliding glass door of our room onto the back patio where our bikes are parked.   Soon we’re biking out of town on the pedestrian/bike path beside Gruissan’s small lagoon, admiring a scene we hope to see again someday.  It’s a grey morning, but dry and still unseasonably warm.

Gruissan Lagoon. Grey, breezy, and no flamingos this morning that I can see but still very appealing.
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With luck we’ll be back.
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We’re only about a half mile out of town now, looking up into the nearby hills. There are some fine walking opportunities close in to Gruissan, including the hike Rachael took yesterday.
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Much of the day’s ride is familiar territory by now, especially the first twelve miles as we follow a well developed bike path through a series of coastal resorts until reaching Narbonne-Plage.  This is our third time along this stretch, the most recent just a half year ago on our way to Beziers.  The beaches are all quiet and sparsely populated this morning - a few folks are walking on the sand and an odd group looks like they’re power-walking in the shallows, pumping their arms and taking large strides.  Maybe it’s a Saturday morning outdoor water aerobics class.

Saturday morning workout, Narbonne-Plage.
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The route I’ve chosen to Agde for us is the most efficient option on quiet roads that I can find, staying as close to the sea as possible.  Nevertheless, once we leave Narbonne-Plage we’re never even within sight of the sea because the route has to turn inland to the lowest bridge crossing the Aude, and then again crossing the Orb.  To be honest, it’s not the most compelling terrain - almost completely flat most of the way, and this year anyway it’s all quite dry.  I was surprised later when I reread the journal of our ride from Agde to Narbonne four years ago to see how different it seemed then - it was late November, there’d been significant recent rains, fields were flooded.  It was quite a dramatic ride then, but not quite so much today.

At the end of the Aude, or nearly so. We’re at Les Cabanes de Fleury, maybe a half mile from the sea. You can bike down by the mouth on a dead end gravel road, but neither of us thought that sounded like the right idea today,
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It’s very flat around the mouth of the Aude, reminding us of the Fens. I think this is heather and I wonder what it looks like in bloom. It’s all dessicated now at the end of this long drought season, but when we were here four years ago it was all a soggy wetland.
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Keith AdamsGood habitat for small songbirds, maybe? But you're right: not terribly visually inspiring. Then again, not everyplace can or should offer breathtakingly stunning vistas: *someone* has to live the workaday life, after all, if only to provide the contrast that makes other places so compelling.
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4 weeks ago
Taking in the expansive view from the high point of the ride, at a nosebleed elevation of about one hundred feet.
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East of the Orb, the day brightens up when the sun starts breaking through.
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Keith Adams"... when the sun burst through the skies.
There was a band playin', in my head..."
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4 weeks ago

Our high drama for the day comes when we stop for lunch beside a lock on the Canal du Midi - the pentultimate one at this end, the last before the distinctive three-way lock at Agde that opens onto the Herault River and its short passage to the sea.  We’re in luck and a large barge comes through while we’re sitting there, entering from the lower end and waiting for the lock to fill and raise it about ten feet before exiting.

It’s an interesting show.  I was surprised to see how quickly the lock filled - the boat raised visibly as we watched, taking not more than a few minutes to reach the upper level.  One thing that surprised me was when one of the boat passengers offered up a pair of wine bottles - one red, one white - for the lock attendant to select from.  Is this the common practice? Are you expected to carry along a case of wine to tip the attendants as you pass their gate?

Lunch stop, at the pentultimate eastbound lock on the Canal du Midi.
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An odd sight, seeing this rack of bikes drift through the lock before our eyes.
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It’s surprising how soon they’re underway again. I’m not sure they were in the lock for more than about five minutes.
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We could never manage this.
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Keith AdamsSteer a straight course, Skipper...
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4 weeks ago
Along the Canal du Midi - plane trees are out, oaks are in. I’m sure it will be just as appealing in fifteen years or so, but for now it’s a sad look. I think they must have been uprooted since we were here four years ago.
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Our first Camargue horses of the tour. They have such beautiful coloration, I think. I’m sure we’ll be seeing them in abundance in days to come.
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Approaching Agde.
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Video sound track: Samba Saravah, by Stacey Kent

This final month of the tour is largely a voyage of rediscovery for Team Anderson, as we spend most nights in towns we’ve visited before.  Agde is no exception, although we’ve ‘only’ been here once; and that was four years ago, far enough back that our memories of it are well dimmed.  Dimmed to the point of being inaccurate, as we’ll find when we revisit.  I have pretty lukewarm feelings about stopping here again, vaguely remembering it as a gloomy place.  In fact it is quite interesting and we’ll worth a visit.  I think my memories of it have gotten tangled up by the fact that we stayed here two nights, and spent our layover day largely sheltering from a hard rain in our hotel room.

We have mixed feelings about the hotel we’re staying in, and probably wouldn’t stay here again.  Our room is great though - we have the best room in the house, a canal-side corner room on the top floor with a view across the canal to the historical center.  It’s warm enough to leave the windows open and listen to the influx of crows arriving in wave after wave and settling for the night in the trees on the opposite bank.

We don’t have mixed feelings about our meal for the night though, Le Bistro d'Hervé.  It’s a fine place, and Rachael enjoys a meal she raves over as possibly the best of the tour.  Later I’ll reread our journal from our previous visit and see that she had the same reaction to her meal then also, at a different restaurant.  So perhaps we’ll be coming back to Agde a third time some year?

Hotel Adour - a so-so breakfast, but a great spot to watch the canal if you’re lucky enough to score the right room. We did tonight, in the corner room on top with the light on.
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The view from our room.
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In Agde. There’s much more to see in this interesting town than this, but we’ll wait for sunrise for a longer look.
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Sea bass swimming in a puréed carrot atoll.
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Ride stats today: 34 miles, 800’; for the tour: 1,344 miles, 81,500’

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 1,343 miles (2,161 km)

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ann and steve maher-wearyThe weather is holding for you too. Wonderful isn't it. Enjoying following along your escapades as always. Cheers
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo ann and steve maher-wearyThe weather has been a phenomenon this year alright. We’ll into our eighth month and we still haven’t been tempted to break out our rain boots even once. Returning to Portland is going to be such a shock, in so many ways.
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4 weeks ago