Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From campground to chateau

We left Aniane Sunday morning and the temperature was rising fast. When we stopped to get bread, the line at the boulangerie (bakery/breadstore) was out the door. The French eat fresh bread every day and the boulangerie is one of the few stores open on Sunday. We rode south with a gentle tail wind and then turned west towards the Lac du Salagou. We had a climb to be up above the lake and there were oak and pine forests lining the road. We had planned a short day after the 72 km on Saturday. We hoped to get cold drinks in Liausson, but the town had no cafe. However, a nice English couple heard our discussion from their balcony and offered us some drinks.

Ian and Chris spend the summer in France and the winter in England. They windsurf on the lake and we had much in common with them. The drinks revived us in the heat and we rode another 6 km in blistering heat to Salasc. The landscape was a lot like western Colorado and southern Utah with lots of red rock and dry washes.

We had a big lunch of cold salads waiting for the the heat to diminish before heading to the campground. We had selected the campground because it had a pool. However, it was also a naturist campground and no one had on a stitch of clothing. We set up the tent and then joined the natives at the pool and politely followed their convention for the next hour or so until the heat dissipated. The next day we got an early start to climb the Col de la Merquiere, 372m. We saw this ancient chateau just above a paleontological site of preserved dinosaur tracks. What a contrast!

The climb was long but the grade was very manageable. Then we had a delightful descent to Le Mas Blanc. This climb and descent was on a very small country road, lightly traveled. We saw many interesting old farm buildings.

We descended for most of the rest of the day with one small climb just past Bedarieux. We ended our day traveling small roads to Murviel-les-Beziers. Here the only accomodations were at the top of the hill in the center of town, yes, the Chateau! The front gate opened onto a delightful courtyard.

This was the entry hall through a door just to the right of the gate.

The fireplace in our room with 16 ft. ceilings.

Tomorrow we head south for one more day then we go west towards Toulouse. This is a big departure from our original plan to go south into Spain. We have decided that due to the lateness of the season and the heat in Spain that we would tour Spain another Spring. Also our pace has not been as planned and we need to reduce significantly the distance we are to travel.


Bernard Menou said...

Hello Belinda and Dave
We are waiting for you.
More details by e-mail.

mas said...

Zeus! what an awesome couple of days. Eavesdropping AND benevolent Brits, ancient mountain top chateaus, and flat screen monitors cheek by jowl with baroque fireplaces. I so sympathize with your battles with the heat, (I did 2 workouts out in the 114 degree heat of Phoenix yesterday and today), and it must be utterly brutal. But, any time you can experience a white Mas AND commune with "naturists" is well-spent! You lucky dogs. Have fun.
Love, mas

Dave and Belinda said...

Hello Bernard, thanks for the e-mail, reply to follow. See you soon!

Hey, Mark! 114 degree workouts! Golly! You're some kind of mad dog Crossfit terrier!

Love to all

Dave and Belinda said...

By the way, Mas in place names here seems to indicate large farms or farm houses, though the word can't be found in our French/English dictionary. Perhaps some of our French speaking friends can help us out?