Lagrasse - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

November 28, 2018

Lagrasse

We hadn’t planned on being in this seaside village at all, but we’re sure pleased with how it worked out.  We’re lucky that these winds blew us down here for the day.  Without that, we wouldn’t have gotten yesterday’s photo of a flamingo trying to get up to flight speed; or enjoyed our afternoon walk on the beach.

And this morning, we would have missed the best sunrise I can remember.  We have a room with a sea-facing view, and when we got up we could see the first sliver of dawn lighten the water.  Downstairs for breakfast at 7, it was advanced enough to drive me out the door and on the beach for the first time; and I went out three more times before finishing my first cup of coffee.

And we would have missed the fine view of Caginou off to the west.  Seeing it like this, it’s easy to believe that for many years it was believed to be the highest peak in the Pyrenees because it is so prominent.

The sky and sea at 7 this morning, when we come down to breakfast.
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Ten minutes later
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I’m so grateful to have had the camera with me this morning. This reminds me of an astonishing sunset in Paros years ago, when I left my camera in the room at dinner. We’ve talked about that sunset ever since, and the way it made the sea look afire.
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Jen GrumbyIncredible!! Glad you had the camera this time.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyOne to remember, alright. My regret this time is only that I’m not quicker witted. I wish now that I’d taken your bottle opener down so that it could soak up the scene also.
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2 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyIf bottle of openers could speak, it would have said,

"This is my opportunity to shine! To glow, in fact. To reflect."

... Oh well. Next time.
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1 week ago
This must be one of the best spots for viewing Caginou. What luck, to be here on a morning when we have such a clear view!
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As we leave town, we come across another Yellow Vest demonstration. They’re going into their third week.
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We’ve followed a pretty odd trail the past several days, wandering to and fro, a bit bee-like.  Yesterday, we backtracked the route from Narbonne to Peyriac-de-Mer.  Today, we’re backtracking again, heading north along the Berre.  Not the most efficient, but efficiency isn’t our goal here.

Here are our peregrinations over four days, including tomorrow’s ride back to the coast at Leucate. We could have just biked from Narbonne to Leucate in three hours and then lazed around at the beach for the next theee days!
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Conditions are really beautiful for a ride today.  There’s little wind, it’s mostly sunny, and by the time we stop for lunch it’s warm enough that we both take off our outer layers.

Does this look familiar to you? It might, because we’ve been here before. We’re biking up to the Berre Gorge, going the opposite direction as on our day ride from Argonne two days back.
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A lone sentinel patrols the pasture.
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At our lunch stop, I think in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Cabrerisse. I don’t know why I look so frownu-faced here. I asked Rachael to take this photo, as a reminder of how wonderful it felt sitting here in the sun, leaning against the warm stone wall.
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Here’s a clue to our location. This looks like a small Romanesque church, visible from our lunch stop. I can’t find it on the map though, so I’m not sure. We’ll bike through this village again tomorrow, so I’ll check it out.
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Just another unidentified ruin
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Dropping to the Nielle River. A nice enough shot, but it’s here mostly to point out our best view of Canigou since leaving the beach. It’s way over on the left, visible at the base if you zoom in, its head hidden in the clouds.
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Passing through Tournissan
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The Avenue of the Promenade, west of Tournissan. The trees continue on like this for well over a mile. You can’t see the end of them, and can barely make out Rachael far in the distance.
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Just beyond Tournissan we dropped to the Orbieau, the small river that flows down from Lagrasse.  We’re only two miles from town at this point, but it’s still early afternoon and such a fine day for riding that we decide to tack on another ten miles with a loop to the west.  It was the right choice.  These were the best miles of the day, carrying us over the shoulder of a low ridge and dropping us down to the tiny Sou River where we stop to Dmire a beautiful medieval stone bridge.  

We were concerned when we saw that the road along the Sou was marked as barricaded, but we decided to hope we could get through whatever the obstacle was rather than backtracking this late in the day.  After all, if we can bike through water, we can overcome so many obstacles.  It was a relief though to find that the road is just being resurfaced, and the road crew was fine with us walking past the active stretch of the project.  Our reward was that we had this delightful road all to ourselves for the last five miles of the day.

Cabane and olive tree
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The old bridge across the Sou, near Rieux-en-Val
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Built in the XII century, the bridge was designed for pedestrian traffic and is thus very narrow. They didn’t have bicycles in mind though, as they hadn’t been invented yet.
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Before looking more closely at the bridge, I was drawn to the bark of this tree and leaned in for a closer look. Too close - I stepped in a fresh pie, and we lost about fifteen minutes of the day as I did my best to clean the sole of my shoe.
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Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyMy exact words. You’re Clairvoyant!
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1 week ago
Riding east along the Sou toward Lagrasse, we enjoy the finest miles of the day.
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This was a relief. The road along the Sou was marked as barricaded about a mile back, but we went ahead anyway. Just a resurfacing project that we could walk around.
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I should have taken a few more shots of the quietly dramatic Sou gorge leading into Lagrasse, but it was late in the day and everything was in the shadows.
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Lagrasse looks amazing. It’s late though, time to get to the room. We’ll check it out in the morning.
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The Purple Rose, our home in Lagrasse
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Lagrasse, a small place classified as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, is certainly that.  It’s also completely dead at this time of year.  There are four or five restaurants and a bar, all of which are closed either for the night or for the winter.  We didn’t know this when we arrived though, and Rachael eagerly viewed the menu at the hotel next door with a friendly Scottish couple passing by, excited to see that it is listed as open tonight.  We enjoyed a brief conversation with them, and discussed possibly continuing our visit at this restaurant over dinner.  Then Rachael hustled off to the still-open grocery store to restock and pick up milk for breakfast.

It’s a good thing she went to the store, as we would find later when we discovered that neither this nor any other diner in town was actually open.  Fortunately, Rachael is a food hoarder and we had plenty of calories on hand to survive until morning.  We’ve done way worse than this in the past.  We’ll learn from the experience though, and will check in advance before staying in any other small villages in the coming weeks.

Not the most promising omen, when you’re looking for an open restaurant in a small town out of season.
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Well, let’s eat in the room for a change. At least we won’t starve, even if there’s no wine to go with the meal.
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 1,700’

Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 2,907 miles (4,678 km)

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