Port Leucate - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

November 29, 2018

Port Leucate

Not the most dramatic day, narrative-wise; but a very attractive, diverse ride back to the coast.  I’m getting behind on the journal again, so I’ll just mention a few high points.

We began with breakfast in the room, since nothing opens up here until about 9: some excellent instant coffee, the last of our muesli and milk left over from last night’s multi course feast; the rest of a stale chocolate bar that had been left in the fridge; and miscellaneous mini-pastries that Rachael has been hoarding.

After breakfast, I walked around the village with the camera to discover why Lagrasse has been declared one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, and round abundant evidence in its fortified stone walls, arched medieval bridges, and the sprawling abbey.  Lagrasse was an important regional power: established as a monastic center in the 7th century by the Abbott of Narbonne, it grew in importance over the coming centuries and by the twelfth century it ruled over a large territory, Sprawling from Toulouse and Béziers in the east to Urgell across the border in Spain.

The abbey looks amazing.  With another day here (which had been the original plan), we would certainly have visited it.  The riding around here is excellent, and it would be worth a return visit in the spring or earlier in the fall before the village goes into hibernation for the winter.

The 8th century Lagrasse Abbey
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The water gate, a remnant of the fortified walls
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The old bridge, dating back to the twelfth c3ntury
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The new bridge, from the old bridge
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Crossing the old bridge
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In Lagrasse
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Looking back at Lagrasse as we leave town, cycling upstream along the Orbieu
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Our ride begins with a retrace back through Tournissan and Saint Laurent, where we stop at a store for the day’s bread, cheese and ham.  Then, it’s south to the sea, crossing a rumpled landscape of low ridges crosshatched by ravines and minor rivers.  The route we picked was lovely cycling - very quiet, modest terrain, scenic - but was just one of several such routes we could have taken.

We cross a pair of low ridges with minor climbs of about 500’ each - nothing dramatic, but enough to get us above the surrounding land for longer views.  The day is cooler than yesterday - we’ve lost the sun, and we’re biking into a headwind tha5thatthat grows steadily stronger as we near the coast.  We stop just beyond Durban, in the trough between our two climbs, for a fast lunch sitting on a wall by the side of the road.

The colors of late autumn here are so muted and subtle.
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Back east through the Avenue of the Promenade. Think of these photos as like daily vitamins - keeps you mentally and physically strong and healthy.
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Jen GrumbyThose are some wise and powerful trees!

I wonder how old they are. I always love imagining all the relatively small human events that trees witness as they stand in solid silence.
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1 week ago
Entering Saint Laurent
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South of Saint Laurent, near the summit of the day’s first climb. At 1000’ elevation, I’m surprised there is still this much color on some of the vines.
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We keep coming across these vinyard scenes, with a lone cabane at the center. We aren’t tired of them yet.
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Beginning the descent to Durban. There is no one else on these tiny upland lanes - it’s really ideal cycling.
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Durban-Corbières sits along the riverside, below its impressive ruined castle.
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Looking back at the Durban-Corbières castle, from its sunnier side.
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Snake! This guy was sprawled across the pavement, gopher snake style, until I hustled him into the weeds for his own safety. Does France have gopher snakes, Bill?
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Bill ShaneyfeltNot gopher snakes specifically or garter snakes. European snake species are all different from North American species.

This one looks like a grass snake.

http://www.planetepassion.eu/snakes-in-france/Grass-snake-France.html
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltThat certainly looks like him. I was surprised to see him out this late in the year. That photo of him swallowing the frog is amazing! The frog looks so nonchalant about the situation.
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1 week ago
Wow, a summit sign! We can’t pass up taking some credit, modest though this pass is.
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After crossing the second summit (and our first summit sign in over a month!), we come in sight of the sea; and also of the alarmingly darkening clouds to the west.  We enjoy a beautiful descent t9 the coast, and then turn south for a flat last ten miles to our hotel in Port Leucate.  A flat, slow ten miles - because the winds have shifted, and we’re pedaling into a 20 mph header with nothing to slow it down.

By the time we reach our room, we’re both pretty spent.  We check into our resort hotel, where as far as I know we are the only guests.  We’re greeted warmly by the manager, a vigorous young man from Porto who proudly shows us photos on the wall of his marathon photos and momentous, and tells us in his very limited English of the two long bike tours he’s taken in Western Europe.

Feuilla
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With at least another hour of cycling left in the day, we’re getting increasingly concerned about those ominous clouds to the northwest.
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Port Leucate, and the end of the day’s Road. We get in dry.
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After check-in I walk down to the beach and out to the end of its long pier, taking in the fury of the sea crashing against the shore.  On the 2ay back, I feel like an idiot and panic a bit when I can’t find the hotel in the sprawl of look-alike apartments and resort units that surround it.  I’ve walked off again without the GPS or a phone, or even a coat, and I have visions of wandering late into the night and getting progressively colder when I finally stumble upon it just as it’s geowing dark.  Rachael isn’t worried about my absence because she’s dead to the world.  She stayed behind, feeling exhausted, and immediately fell into a sleep.  She doesn’t wake up until I rouse her when it’s time for dinner.

We have dinner at a decent fish house, the only open restaurant within easy walking distance.  Here too, the town is all but shut down for the season.  Only one open restaurant, and we’re the only customers this evening.

The plage, Port Leucate
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 2,500’

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 2,949 miles (4,746 km)

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