Day 4 Aniane to Narbonne (105km)
Cloudy at first but soon becoming sunny. Very strong head or cross winds develop as the day goes on.
We set off back towards the Pont du Diable because we have to cross the Herault and there is no other nearby bridge. We are pleased to discover that the road is one of those rare creatures that appear to be downhill in both directions, but once over the bridge a bit of climbing is required as we pull away from the gorge.
Today’s route is quite tricky, because we want to stay on small quiet roads as we skirt around Beziers, which is a large and rapidly growing town with various recently constructed new, busy main roads leading into it. Sheila has done some Google streetview research and has a cunning plan to get us across a particularly difficult main road junction, which when last encountered by us seemed only to have slip roads leading onto a dual carriageway National Route laden with large trucks.
Not too far into the day and the right front tyre starts to look a bit soggy. TP4: puncture. We pull in to the roadside verge and remove inner tube. Pinhole with no obvious cause. John patches and replaces the tube rather than get out a replacement. Once fixed, our run through St André de Sarigonis, Brignac, Adissan and Nizas is pleasant and brings us to Pézenas. We have stayed here before, so remember the town. First stop is the OdT. We don’t have accommodation for tonight in Narbonne, so we decide to ask the OdT to book something for us. No success. OdTs and hotel booking are a mystery. Some are ultra helpful and will book anything anywhere for you, explaining our trike parking requirements in the process. Others shrug and say your destination is in the next Department as though you were intending to go to the moon; and some don’t even admit to there being anything at all outside their own town limits. Ca va.
Next stop just around the corner is the bike shop. Sheila guards the trike in a busy street while John goes in to see what is available. They have one 406 tyre of a low pressure shopper bike variety, but beggars can’t be…….and any spare is better than none. We also purchase a couple more inner tubes for good measure. We move on to the edge of the town centre to take stock and figure out how to fix the rigid tyre to our luggage. First though, Sheila heads in search of PaRs and food, while John sits on a bench and watches the trike as the crowds flock to and fro. It is market day in Pézenas. Not being in a particularly conversational frame of mind John sites the trike near enough for it to be under supervision but not so near that every passerby immediately spots the owner and launches into an ATQ session. Sheila returns with PaRs, which are consumed and morale is boosted. We make a couple of failed attempts to find somewhere to buy string, then head into the medieval narrow lane centre of town. The market stalls are everywhere in all directions plus heaps of people to go with them, so we have to push the trike through and escape to quieter roads. Re-assessing the spare tyre problem we find that it fits quite neatly around our day bag on the top of the rack and sitting on top of the panniers behind the rear seat. Sheila produces a specs cord surplus to current requirements to attach it to the rear of rack and the mini-bungee she found earlier (remember this?) is perfect to fix the other end to a piece of the rear seat shock cord.
Sheila phones a hotel in Narbonne from the list she has brought with her, explains our requirements, including secure off-road parking for the trike, which she describes in detail. Glad to know we have a room sorted for the night, we set off again.
An ace performance by the rear seat navigator takes us through Alignan du Vent, Servian, Bassan, Corneilhan and Maraussan to bypass Beziers and take us via some very unlikely small lanes to negotiate tricky major road junctions in a virtually car free manner.
Reaching Maureillhan, we stop at a convenient bench for our picnic lunch. From there it is a short distance to reach the Canal du Midi for a pleasant run beside it until we reach the bridge that takes us across and into Capestang. We know Capestang well, so pause to buy some food and cold drinks and then head for a bench in the square behind its large church. While we are there we persuade a passing Australian tourist to take a photo of the two of us clutching our drinks cans.
The road to Narbonne becomes increasingly busy for the last 20km, with uncharacteristically pushy rush-hour traffic in no mood to be held up on their dash home. There is also some undiagnosed clonking from the trike rear mech, but we are not inclined to stop. Narbonne is equally busy, but after a couple of attempts we get to the OdT and Sheila goes in to get a street map to take us to our hotel. A bit of tricky roundabout negotiation and we arrive. Hotel owner looks at the trike and rather grumpily says no way, you can’t stay here. We are told that there is another hotel just around the corner. This is on Sheila’s list so we set off to find it. Just around the corner turns out to be a gross underestimate and we are making slow progress pushing the trike along the pavement the wrong way up a one-way street, so Sheila is sent ahead to recce on foot while John sits on the trike and waits. She returns with good news – we have a hotel room and a garage.
S&W, then into the city centre for some sightseeing and shopping, including a trip to Monoprix to replace Sheila’s nightie that was left behind by mistake in Aniane. On our wander we see the rather grand but shabby hotel we had previously stayed at was now all done up and on sale as fashionable town centre apartments. Pizza and pasta supper in the main square.
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)