Day 8 Castres to Cordes sur Ciel (68km)
Dull and a bit drizzly fining out later in the day
Breakfast in the hotel; stop at covered market to buy fruit on the way out of town.
Our revised route takes us cross country against the grain of the landscape dropping into valleys and then climbing slowly out of them, but we make steady progress through Lautrec and on, ticking off a few arrowed roads until we reach Lasgraisses where the locals are clearing away tables from their own village summer music festival last night. There is also a café, so time for a stop. Coffee for Sheila and possibly the smallest ever lukewarm ‘hot’ chocolate for John – not a great success. A few locals inspect the trike while we sit indoors.
A bit drizzly as we leave so we put our waterproof tops on for the first time. In a very short distance the drizzle eases and macs are too warm, so we take them off again. Similar countryside as we progress through Bernac, where we stop to photograph sunflowers, and Cestayrols, where we have our picnic lunch on a bench.
Cordes sur Ciel hoves into sight, a classic well defended medieval small town perched atop a very pointy hill. We stop at the OdT at the foot of the town and obtain information on the cobbled pedestrian street we are not allowed into and a route to our hotel. Basically we have to climb around the outside of the town and enter by a gate at the far end. We set off on a small one-way lane on our half circumvention, a bit like going up the slide of a helter skelter to the half way point. In through the gate and seriously up on rough cobbles. The cobbles become more challenging - smooth in themselves but a bit like a rocky mountainside. We don’t have independent front suspension so, apart from the hard work, we are in danger in damaging the trike by breaking a steering track-rod or similar. Stop the trike and wedge its rear end against a large doorstep. No sign of the hotel that is supposed to be near this entrance gate, so John stays with the trike while Sheila is sent forward exploring. Two weeks later Sheila re-appears. The hotel is at the top of the town some considerable way on and up. Sheila turns herself into luggage porter and carries all our baggage while John pushes and/or pulls the trike along. We arrive and the trike is squeezed through the entrance arch by a whisker into the small inner courtyard.
The hotel turns out to be a two star rooms-only annex to a more expensive hotel elsewhere in the town. Sheila phones and we are informed that someone is on his way. Some considerable time later we phone again, “someone is on his way”. It is only a small town! S&W and some restorative chocolate once we are in. There is a stunning view from our window.
We walk around the town. Very medieval, very steep and certainly worthy of its three Michelin stars. We also take in an art exhibition and a small garden with ceramic art on display. A recce of eating opportunities leads us to a small restaurant beside the Market building. A good choice, because the working locals are eating there and we are served in a friendly manner to an inexpensive, simple but good meal.
Pre tour and Travel south
Day 1 Roquemaure (76km)
Day 2 Anduze (84km)
Day 3 Aniane (73km)
Day 4 Narbonne (105km)
Day 5 Carcassonne (78km)
Day 6 Carcassonne (0km)
Day 7 Castres (73km)
Day 8 Cordes sur Ciel (68km)
Day 9 Cahor (88km)
Day 10 Salviac (51km)
Day 11 Salviac Rally (28km)
Day 12 Salviac Rally (68km)
Day 13 Vers (50km)
Day 14 Villefranche de Rouergue (65km)
Day 15 Villefranche de Panat (105km)
Day 16 St Chély du Tarn (105km)
Day 17 St Chély du Tarn (0km)
Day 18 Chamborigaud (81km)
Day 19 Vallon Pont d’Arc (65km)
Day 20 Vaison la Romaine (88km)
Day 21 Sault (72km)
Mont Ventoux (51km & 1912m)