To Gruissan - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 27, 2022

To Gruissan

We both groaned when we arrived a our hotel yesterday and found it closed and dark, with the sign in the window stating that there was no reception until seven.  Seven?  We’ve never had a place with that late of an arrival time.  We’ve already killed an hour sitting at a canalside cafe, me nursing a small biere pression and Rachael downing as much goop as she can from her massive chestnut and caramel crepe topped with a few m&m’s.  Both were surprises, served up by our cheerful but perhaps inexperienced young server who doesn’t look much past fifteen.  I thought I’d ordered a larger beverage, Rachael wondered why she got the goop rather than the vanilla scoop she’d been anticipating.

No big deal.  It’s still a delight to sit beside the canal on this unseasonably warm afternoon and watch the world go by for an hour until we can take our chances on the hotel and head over at 4:30, a half hour before the arrival time declared on their Booking listing.  When we prepare to leave our table Rachael pulls out a ziploc bag and carefully slips in the last half of her crepe that she didn’t really like that much but will save for leftovers.   Ever since our first visit to Lagrasse very little of Rachael’s food goes to waste because you just never know.

But we’re not waiting until 7 to get to our room.  I’m starting to think we should bag this one and see what else is around but Rachael calls the listed number and the hotel has it covered.  They give us the access code for  the keypad, and on the counter of the reception desk is an envelope with the key to our room and an information sheet, thoughtfully printed in english.

Now that we’re in, we find that we like Hotel de France quite a bit.  A vintage place that looks like it’s being renovated, it works well for us - economical, excellent location, comfortable room, good WiFi, space for the bikes.  We’d definitely stay there again on our next time through.  But we’re taking a pass on the their allegedly modest breakfast this morning and walk over to the public market for some excellent pastries, a quiche, and a quartet of cafe au laits.  A good breakfast, an enjoyable experience, and a start to the day we’ll plan on repeating in the weeks ahead.

When we leave the hotel and bike north along the canal an hour later it’s slow going for several blocks because the Thursday market is on and both banks are jammed with pop-up booths and white vans.  Streets are crowded with the market crowd, buskers are out.  It’s a lively, appealing scene to leave town on.  Narbonne is a place that definitely sings for us, and we’re wondering this morning why we’re leaving after only a single night.  We’ll be back, I feel confident.

Leaving Narbonne from the north end, along the edge of the Robine Canal.
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There are about half a dozen canal crossings in central Narbonne, stitching the two halves of the city together. A few like this one are pedestrian only - colorful and scenic, but not the easiest on a bike.
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Crossing the Rabine Canal.
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And then - what?  Wait just a second, I’ve got an incoming message on the other line.

Sorry folks - I’ve just been informed that I’ve nearly used up my word budget for this post and need to wrap it up.  Should have planned better.  Embarrassing, but TTFN.

Along the Robine, I think. I’m not sure though, because there are so many canals cross cutting this flat terrain. Somewhere in here we pick up the Canal du Midi, but I’m not quite sure where.
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A sad sight, with just the starts from new plantings lining the banks in place of the majestic plane trees which must have been here before so many were removed as disease ridden.
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Keith AdamsWithout the mature trees the canal certainly takes on the appearance of little more than an industrial ditch. Too bad.
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1 month ago
Other stretches are still lined with different, healthy species. We were especially taken with this long line of colorful pines.
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Along a canal. I’m not sure which one.
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In dry dock.
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At Sallèles-d'Aude we cross the Canal du Jonction (a branch of a branch of the Canal du Midi) and finally start biking away on the east side of the Aude.
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There’s a wide, flat apron east of the Aude here, wholly given over to agriculture of course. For the coming miles we’ll enjoy quiet, totally flat riding past acre after acre of tree fruits, grapes and olives.
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Keith AdamsWow that's stony soil. Must be hell to try to till it, but I suppose with grape vines that doesn't have to happen all that often.
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1 month ago
Peaceful, the world to ourselves save for the occasional farm vehicle hogging our road.
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East of the Aude and west of the Minervois. We’ve never biked our in this direction before, but it bears further exploration some year.
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Not all of the plane trees are gone, thankfully. It’s so quiet here! While I was stopped for this shot I heard a curious skritching sound. It took me a minute to realize it was the fallen leaves from the trees scraping the asphalt as the wind blew them along.
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We leave the pavement for a mile or more. As you might infer, it gets windy here. It’s picking up this afternoon and in our faces as we bike east.
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Lying RideWithGPS has misled us again and steered us onto another uncomfortable washboard Piece of Surface. Various body parts protest over this, to little effect.
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Jacquie GaudetThere is a lot of misidentification of surfaces in all the mapping apps, I’ve heard. Considering that surface information is a relatively new feature, I suppose that’s to be expected. I’ve had the opposite too: roads marked as unpaved (and not new asphalt either).
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1 month ago
On the other hand, it is very quiet and nice to look at.
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My turn for a pine tree/bike portrait.
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Looking across the lagoon as we enter Gruissan, admiring the flamingos. Hmm - perhaps I was a bit hasty in handing off my super zoom.
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Video sound track: Adrift, by Yasmin Williams

In Gruissan, in good company.
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Ride stats today: 38 miles, 600’; for the tour: 1,282 miles, 80,500’

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 1,281 miles (2,062 km)

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