Albi to Carcassonne - Wake up, Maggie, I think it's time to get back on tour - CycleBlaze

May 25, 2019

Albi to Carcassonne

Change order: New route

It rained last night but it is only cloudy now. The electrical power is off ... again. Scott has become an expert at resetting this and heads out to the courtyard to turn  the switch on  so that we can get some heat and light. With the power on we prepare our breakfast and  organize for our departure. Today we will take the train to Toulouse and then transfer to a regional train bound for Carcassone and points further south.

Leaving our apartment and riding toward the station it is easy to notice that today is market day in Albi. The usual assortment of high quality fresh food is available. We both fear being late and always seem to over estimate the time we need to get to the train station. Being prepared, after all the trains run on time,  we only spend a short time looking around the market. But we never tire of the local town markets in France. That said, we arrive at the station twenty minutes early and wait. Such is life.

Not sure if they plan to sell this whole or is it just to grab your attention. Worked for me.
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Here we are early as usual at the nicely updated Albi train station.
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Panniers tucked neatly away on the top shelf.
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Bikes stowed where ever they fit. Nice that the Bike Fridays are small form.
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We enjoy using the local train system during our cycle tours. It is  always a mix of excitement, anxiousness and entertainment. The train from Albi only has two cars and no special locations for bikes so  we just lean them against the far door and take a couple of seats. We are told bikes are permitted on this train and no one seems to care much about where you leave them. But when we transfer to our next train in Toulouse there are six hooks in a single car and we hang our bikes. We are glad that we had plenty of transfer time as quickly all the hooks are full and there are four more bikes and owners in the access way. This train is full. Beyond full. People and luggage are up and down the isles. Then there is an announcement just prior to departure that this train will only travel as far as Carcassone and people heading for points beyond grab their possessions and leave. The train is still full but a bit more comfortable now. These regional trains seem to be a bit like a bus or subway transport where the only thing that limits capacity is the ability to find enough space for one more person and their possessions on board.

We are not sure of our route when we arrive in Carcasonne as the mapsme tile that we need for this area is not loaded on Pat's phone. But looking at the map at the train station, it seems getting to our apartment will be easy and we have some spare time as we will meet our host out front of the building at two o'clock. We stop for a bite to eat at a large town square and marvel at how quickly and efficiently they take down and clean up from the Saturday morning market. There are men and a vacuum  sweeper truck that clean up the pavement and in short order you never know that a bustling market was happening here just over an hour previous.

A much larger train station in Carcassone.
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Fountain in Place Carnot where we had lunch and the morning market was held.
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We arrive at the prearranged time to receive keys for our apartment and  meet Joseph, a polite and curious young man about our son's age. He is the owner's son and he shows us the suite and where to put the bikes. All good except now it is pouring rain. That's is fine as we have WiFi and Scott has some new trip planning to complete. When the rain stops, we head out to explore the town, find a grocery store for some breakfast items and a restaurant for dinner.

Our apartment for the next two nights is on the third floor of this building right across the street from Square Gambetta.
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Square Gambetta.
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Outside the walls of the Medieval city first built in the 12th–13th centuries. As it is late in the day we will come back tomorrow to go inside.
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We are unsure of our directions and the streets seem pretty quiet for a Saturday evening. Maybe we are just in the wrong area of town we think, but we do find a Vietnamese restaurant open and have tasty and good quality curry dish as well as some vegetables and shrimp. We are a bit amazed when we recalculated the cost of the  simple meal into Canadian funds though. This is not an inexpensive place to dine out.

We returned to our apartment through completely quiet streets to await the arrival of our friends that will join us for the next couple weeks. Late in the night we receive word that they are stuck in Avignon and will join us tomorrow. 

Part of our new trip plan heading toward the Mediterranean. The Canal du Midi is a popular 240km cycling route from Toulouse to the Mediterranean and is part of a larger canal system that connects to the Atlantic ocean. But as the actual cycle path is frequently quite rough we will crisscross the canal several times on route.
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The sun setting view from our balcony. It has been cloudy and showery most of the day and the sun has finally appeared late in the day.
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Today's ride: 5 km (3 miles)
Total: 544 km (338 miles)

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