Mazamet to Carcassone - From Munich to Spain to France - CycleBlaze

May 8, 2024

Mazamet to Carcassone

Aw, c'mon. Not again!

A good ride after a tough day.
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This is the lovely hotel we stayed in Mazamet, Les Jardins.
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The Rue de Usines out of Mazamet.
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We spent the morning collecting all our laundry around our room at Les Jardins de Mazamet. It was all blessedly dry, thanks to work on the heating rack.

The weather wasn’t exactly warm (mid 50s) but that extra 10 degrees over yesterday’s temp felt wonderful. And, no rain in the forecast and clearing projected for the afternoon. It was a lovely ride. We rode along the Arnette river on the Rue de Usines heading towards the Montagne Noire massif. (We found out that “Usines”translates to “factories” in English. Mazamet was famous for its cottage industries in the 1800s and this bucolic country road once  had 70 small factories alongside, using the river for energy and transport.) As you can see from the profile, we immediately encountered a slog of a climb of 700m. Nevertheless, we were grateful for the warmth the work provided us as the weather was dry but chilly in the morning. 

Our original plan on the previous day had been to ride into Mazamet and then go to a really cool suspension bridge which provides great views of the valley. Of course that never happened - we went to a bar instead - but we did see it on our way out of town. 

The suspension bridge just outside Mazamet.
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On the climb.
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Ah, just because it was lovely.
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After working our way up the climb, the sky started to clear and we were looking forward to the long descent down to Carcassonne. It turned out not to be as easy as we had hoped. The road down from the summit was steep, narrow and twisty, just the kind of thing Dave enjoys and I endure. No sooner had he gone a couple of hundred meters when his front tire flatted!  Talk about déjas vu. I rode ahead looking for a (relatively) wider space on the side of the road for him to work.  He walked his bike down to me and set to work. This time changing the flat was as routine as it should be. All the tools were where they belonged and we had another spare tube. Yesterday's repair in the cold and rain took us 1.5 hours. This time it took just over 30 minutes. We were a well-oiled machine —just kidding - but it went a lot smoother. 

Dave was concerned that flatting twice in two days had to be more than mere coincidence. Today he took his time checking the tire to see if he could find the offending puncture source. Sure enough, after a very light prick on his finger tip and subsequent prodding of the tire with the multi tool, he was able to pry out a tiny piece of glass. Tire fixed,we continued the descent uneventfully.  For the first time, we started to see some cycle tourers, and a few families hauling kids, and trailers,  on regular bikes, which puts us to shame!

I'm getting tired of including these views of me.
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Rachael AndersonAt least you found the reason for the flat! Hopefully, it’s the last one.
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1 week ago
Piece of glass, j'accuse!
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We could feel the temperature rising as we descended and by the time we reached Lastours it was downright warm and the sun was shining brightly. We stopped at a cafe and had a couple of bowls of French onion soup which were delicious, and filling. I thought we should have shared a bowl as we usually do but Dave insisted on ordering his own. I could only eat half of mine. Dave devoured his. 

Lastours current claim to fame is the ruins of four small castles which you can visit on a two hour climb up from the town. We originally planned on doing this, but after fixing the flat and needing  to go to a bike store in Carcassonne to replenish our now depleted tube supply, we had to bag the hike. 

The castles were built by the Cathars, a Gnostic tribe who were the prominent people of the Languedoc and northern Italy. The castles had originally been built to control access to the Montagne Noire region. In the early 13th century the Cathars ran afoul of Rome and were particularly detested by Pope Innocent III who launched the Albigensian Crusade resulting in the slaughter of the Cathars, and the region fell under the control of the French crown. This part of France is filled with the history of the Cathars. 

A little tour of Lastours.
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The ruins as seen from the town.
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We rode into busy Carcassone and diverted to locate a Giant bike store to replenish our depleted tube supply. Tomorrow was Ascension Day and we thought it was likely stores would be closed. After a pretty significant diversion to a  west side industrial park we learned today was VE Day and stores were also closed. VE Day, Ascension Day, last week it was Labour Day! We think the French work to live….So, tube replenishment will have to wait. 

This route had so many picturesque villages.
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We had to switch to Google maps to find the Giant bicycle store in Carcassonne and here Jill contemplates having to clamber up a steep ramp that G-maps insisted we negotiate.
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At our B and B on the edge of La Cité, as the medieval core of  Carcassonne is known as, our kind host booked a place for us to have dinner nearby, Le Pas Sage. Dinner was indifferent (erratic service) but we sat next to a group of British and Irish innkeepers who all lived in Carcassone and we had a very fun conversation about Carcassone, the effects (good and bad) of tourism, and the general state of the world. Joachim and his spouse own 45BB (a B and B in the new city of Carcassone) and he talked about leaving the rat race in London to move to Carcassone. He was very proud of his B and B and indeed it had great reviews when I looked it up later. Their dog Juno is a big part of their success. Besides Juno, Joachim attributes much of his recent success to their hard work. His theory: a lot of French folk don’t work as hard and that gave him and his spouse a leg up in developing the success of his inn.  That French work-to-live thing, I guess.   It was a fun evening. Tomorrow we have a free day for chores and venturing into La Cité.

Americans are often put off but we really enjoy how the French welcome well behaved pets in restaurant. Here Juno wonders where her entree is.
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Jacquie GaudetI think one of the reasons most dogs are so well-behaved in France and Spain and Italy is because they are so well socialized.
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1 week ago

Today's ride: 48 km (30 miles)
Total: 372 km (231 miles)

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Scott AndersonToo bad about flattening again, but I really liked reading the post without seeing any mention of Jill’s injured ankle. And I see that she’s carrying her own panniers again. It must be healing OK?
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1 week ago