Valencia…. .

We left the aire at Peñiscola yesterday before getting too comfortable, having spent three nights there.  With a loose plan to visit Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, we programmed in the co-ordinates of an aire outside the city to the satnav.  When we arrived at said co-ordinates, after a two hour drive, there was no aire to be seen.  Oh joy. We pulled in to a garage to look at the guide and sort out Plan B.  Oh, there was no Plan B was there.  Whilst Tim perused the aires guide I went into the garage to buy some bread and a big bag of bacon crisps.  Tim’s priority being to find us somewhere safe to sleep for the night and mine being  food.  I don’t seem to be able to make decisions if I’m hungry and the situation could have turned ugly quite rapidly!

After not finding a suitable aire in the book we decided to get out our ACSI Campsite book to see what was around Valencia. I found one 9km south of Valencia which would cost us a reasonable €17 per night.  Tim’s nervous ‘tic’ returned at the thought of spending that kind of money for one night but needs must when the devil drives.  The ACSI book uses a different format for the co-ordinates that we have been using with our other two books and after much faffing and fiddling the destination flag put us in the sea, just off the beach, south of Valencia.  Excellento, let’s go.

After a stressful drive, having taken the wrong exit off roundabouts twice, dealing with multiple lane changes, lorries, tailgaters and roadworks we arrived an hour later, at around about the spot we were looking for.  We pulled over to decide what to do when we saw directly ahead of us ‘La Marina’ aire at €11 per night.  Hallelujah, perfect.  It’s a large car-park but that’s fine and the chap on reception was soooo friendly he turned our day around.  Tim, also, was saved with parting with €17 so all’s good.

The bus into Valencia was free that day for some sort of mobility festival so we went in for a reccy late afternoon.  We got off the bus at the ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias’ or the ‘City of Arts and Sciences’.

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IMAX Cinema, Valencia.

Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela the ‘city’ stretches for over 2km and houses an IMAX cinema, science museum, aquarium, opera house, concert space and landscaped area.

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Arts and Science park.

It is mightily impressive but I dread to think how much it all cost, especially with Spain’s economy as it is.

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Landscaped walkways at the Arts and Science park.

Colossal spend or not we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll around the whole area in lovely 25 degree sunshine.

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We returned to the aire on the free bus with a plan the next day to cycle to Valencia to explore the Jardin del Turia, an urban park, adjacent to the City of Arts and Sciences.

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View to the Arts and Science Park from Turia Riverbed Park.

A purpose built cyclepath, direct from outside the entrance to the aire, took us into Valencia today in thirty minutes.  In October 1957 Valencia was flooded when the Rio Turia (river Turia) burst its banks damaging much of the city.

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River Turia, Valencia, 1957 flood.
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The aftermath of the flood, 1957.

A decision was made to divert the entire river around the south and west of the city therefore averting any further disaster.  What Valencia has now created is the Turia Riverbed Park.

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Stone bridge spanning Valencia’s Turia Riverbed Park.

The Park covers around 9km of the former river bed and is Spain’s largest urban park.

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Another of the stone bridges.

Over twenty bridges span its width with many of them original. It’s all beautifully landscaped with cyclepaths, footpaths, trim trails, picnic areas, skate parks, sports facilities and the like.

P1080297.JPGWe cycled the entire length of it and back, which took a good hour, before heading towards the marina and beaches.

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Swanky apartments behind the promenade on the beach.

Valencia is really very cycle friendly as there are dedicated cycle paths all the way down to the seafront and cycling isn’t banned along the promenade either.  The beach is very nice as the hotels have been built quite a distance from the main promenade so weren’t imposing at all.

We enjoyed a drink at one of the beach bars, people watching, before cycling back to the aire.

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Looking a bit windswept!

All in all, an excellent day covering 38 miles, all of which was on dedicated cyclepaths.  From our very shaky start yesterday Valencia has more than redeemed itself.  Tomorrow the plan is to take the bus into the old town for a look see.

Nos vemos!

Our first full week in Spain…. .

The past week has, again, been one of contrasts.  We arrived on the Mediterranean coast on Wednesday 14th September 2016 ready for a restful few days.  The first job was to get ‘Spain’ stuck on our map of Europe.  It’s taken us nearly four months to reach a new country!

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Finally we can colour in another country.

We kicked back and relaxed at one of the aires on The Parc Naturel del Delta de l’Ebre for three nights enjoying some flat cycling every day, a spot of birdwatching and free wifi.  The area was designated as a Natural Parc in 1983 and is one of the largest wetland areas in the Western Mediterranean.  It is home to around 95 species of breeding birds and also serves as a stopover point for a huge number of migratory birds.  Not unlike ourselves really!  It’s the first time I think we’ve seen wild flamingos at close quarters.  Being a wetland area it attracts its fair share of mosquitos but also hundreds of dragonflies in every different colour imaginable.

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Coffee break at the marina at St. Carles de la Rapita.

We spent three nights there before taking a foray inland to the medieval fortified town of Morella.  We didn’t know if it was worth the ninety minute detour inland after having finally reached the coast but it turned out to be a real hightlight for us.

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Approach to Morella.

We stayed at the free aire 1km outside the town giving us a marvellous view of the town, especially when lit up at night.

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View from the aire of Morella lit up at night.

It reminded me a bit of a pavlova or of this egg sandwich we made at our first Helpx!

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‘Moregga’!

The castle above the town is over 1000m above sea level with a ring of ancient walls defending the lower reaches.

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Fortified walls of Morella.

 

P1080176.JPGWe did one of the signed walks around the outskirts of the town which gave us fantastic views over the surrounding plains and a view of the castle and walls from a different perspective.

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Another lovely walk.
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Morella seen from a different perspective.

We also paid a very reasonable €3.50 each to visit the castle.  The views from the top down over the town and across the surrounding countryside were exceptional and well worth the climb up.

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Looking down from the castle.

What we really also enjoyed about this area was the landscape.

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View from the castle walls.

It’s a mixture of isolated farms amongst rugged terrain, rocky hilltops, woods and ravines.  Hundreds of dry stone terraces and walls adorn the hillsides giving an insight into the hard graft and labour it took to farm successfully in this area in days gone by.

Having spent two nights at Morella we drove eastwards to Valderrobres, another medieval town with a fortified castle and 14th Century Gothic church.

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Valderrobres.
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Gothic church of Santa Maria la Mayor.

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We spent a couple of hours wandering around the old town before deciding to head back down to Peñiscola on the coast.  Peñiscola is a fortified promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean made famous by the filming here of El Cid in 1960.

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Peniscola – ‘city in the sea’.

P1080247.JPGIt’s also been used recently for the sixth series of Game of Thrones.

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Game of Thrones series six filmed on Peniscola.

It was built by the Knights Templar on the remains of an old Moorish citadel in the 13th Century. Within the walls lie many narrow, windy, cobble stoned streets lined with restaurants and tourist shops.

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Peniscola’s narrow strrets.

It is buzzing with mainly Spanish tourists.  We stayed on an aire a couple of miles away and enjoyed a leisurely cycle in along a purpose built cyclepath taking us to the ‘city in the sea’ as Peñiscola is known.

P1080248.JPGIt’s very touristy but has a very lively, family friendly, air about it and we enjoyed whiling away a couple of hours exploring.  We continued our cycle west along the coast for several miles which revealed much quieter coves with significantly less people!

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Looking back west of Peniscola. 

Today we headed east along the coast on the bikes taking a pitstop for an hour to have a look round the market in Benicarlò.

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Benicarlo market.
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Market at Benicarlo

 

I went for my first swim in the ‘Med’ this evening but shot out of the water when my legs suddenly started stinging.  I think I’ve been stung by a jellyfish although I didn’t see any but, looking at the rash I have, I can’t think of anything else it might be.  That’s put me right off a second swim now!

Tomorrow we’re moving on again but, to where, I’m not sure.  Best get the maps out and have a look!

Hasta luego!

Up and over the Pyrénées into Spain…. .

Since my last blog update we have had a week of contrasts in terms of both landscapes and weather.  We left the aire at Aulus-les-Bains on Sunday 11th September to have a drive up to the Ski resort, a few miles away, at Guzet.  After 6km of steep climbing we arrived at the ski station with a stupendous view across the Pyrénées all to ourselves.  It’s only a small place which seems to just cater for the ski season so everything was deserted bar two or three cars.  All it lacked was a bit of tumbleweed blowing through!  It all felt a bit surreal really and it would be interesting to see the difference in the ski season.

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Views from the ski resort at Guzet.

We lingered admiring the views for half an hour or so and we could have probably stayed the night up there without any bother.  However, we’d planned an early start on Monday morning to get the washing done so drove the 12km back down to the aire at Seix ready to hit the ‘laverie’ at 7am.

I arrived at the ‘laverie’ at 7am to find it does not open until 8am. Meh.  I arrived at the ‘laverie’ at 8am to find all three machines in use having just started their 45minute program.  Double meh!  So much for our early start.  Washing eventually done we headed back down the valley to St Girons for a quick pitstop at Aldi to restock before traversing the lower Pyrénées westwards towards Bagnères-de-Luchon, 10km from the Spanish border.

The drive wasn’t too torturous, but then, I wasn’t driving!  We followed the D618 over Col de Portet d’Aspet (1069m) and Col des Ares (797m)passing through rugged little towns and forested hillside along the way.  We arrived at the aire at Bagnères-de-Luchon, twinned with Harrogate (nod to my parents who live just outside Harrogate), in the early afternoon.

Luchon is a mixture of ski resort, thermal spa resort and Tour de France destination.  We were disappointed that the cable car only runs at the weekend from September as it was long, steep and looked fun and we could have done some walking from the top.  Tim dragged me round the whole town trying to find somewhere that would sell a half decent camera but to no avail.  Unfortunately, until we find somewhere big enough to sell that sort of thing you’ll all have to put up with the black dot and other blemishes on the photos.

As we were now only 10km to the border of Spain, and with the cable car not running until the weekend, we decided to press on into new territory.  We took the road out of Luchon towards Vielha climbing and climbing and switchbacking to meet the Guardia Civil at the summit on the border.

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Climbing up out of Luchon.

We weren’t stopped so continued down the other side stopping at a viewpoint to see the little town of Bossòst below.

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Satnav view of the route ahead!

Yay, new country!

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Bossost across the Spanish border.
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Port on sale in the local supermarket.

After a wander around Bossòst we continued on to Vielha, another ski resort, which was a contrast to all the ancient medieval towns we’d seen in France.

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Vielha.

Taking the C28 out of town in a south easterly direction we embarked on a spectacular drive up and over Port de la Bonaigua at 2072m and down the other side through the Vall d’Aneu. Epic!

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Route up out of Vielha to another ski station.
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Yay, reached the pass.

Tim did a fantastic job of driving.  He did ask if I wanted to drive, but with me having more interest in the view than the road ahead (read: short attention span), he felt it safest that he continue on as he doesn’t make a particularly good passenger, especially on these types of roads.   D.I.V.O.R.C.E. may have ensued had I taken to the wheel!

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Back down we go!
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They’ve got all that land and still they choose the road:)

Further on down the valley the mountains gave way to reservoirs of iridescent blue, flanked by rugged hillsides, in between more ski resorts until we came through La Pobla de Segur which was the first traditional looking town since arriving in Spain.  We carried on down (we’d been going downhill for hours by now!) and swung into a free aire at Tremp.  108 miles covered with an average speed of about 25mph!

Tremp is a contrast of old, new, derelict and half built but it had a vibrant friendly air about it as we strolled around in the early evening.  Lots of people were out with their children enjoying the tree lined streets and cafes.  We joined them for a couple of cheeky beers to soak up the ambience!  Four 50cl San Miguels and two complimentary bowls of nuts came to €6.40.  Oooh we’re liking Spain, that would have cost us €19, without the nuts, in France!  Big tick for Spain on that one!

We got back to the van before a huge thunderstorm which continued into the night.  On looking out the next morning to see the clouds down over the mountains we discussed our plans on where to go next. We both felt that, with the weather forecast to be unsettled for the next few days, we would head out of the hills towards the coast.  We are going to be meeting our friends, Di and Chris, in a few weeks time somewhere on the south coast of Spain so felt we might as well start to move in that direction.

Decision made, we programmed sattynav to take us to an aire in the Parc del Delta de l’Ebre on the coast just south of Tarragona.  Great, 3.5 hrs and we’d be there by lunchtime.  That was until we drove through the Mont-Rebel canyon.  The drive from Tremp was stunning through the gorge and as we rounded a bend we saw a parking area coming up so pulled in just intending to take a quick photo before resuming our journey.  We got out of the van marvelling at the view down the valley but then turned around to see the immense sight of the gorge behind us.

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Mont-Rebel canyon.

We’d have missed it if we had continued on without stopping.  It was just stunning, glowing orange in the sunshine, with the river in full flow after the rain the night before.

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You can see the tunnel where the railway line is above the river.

The Noguera Ribagorçana river divides the Monsec area into two with Ares on the Catalan side and Estall on the other in Aragon.

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The water level dropped by about a meter over the three hours we were there.

We gaped for about half an hour before deciding to get the boots out and take a footpath leading across the hillside on the other side of the river.

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‘Ollie’ dwarfed by the gorge.

The footpath took us up and over the railway line to a viewpoint where we could see right through the canyon to a hilltop village about 3 miles away.

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Path up to the viewpoint.
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All in all a beautiful walk.
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The hilltop village just beyond the middle of the gorge.

When we got back down to river level we sat for another half an hour watching four climbers halfway up the sheer rockface.  Awesome!

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You can’t see them as the picture quality isn’t good enough but there are four climbers at various points on the rockface just past halfway up at a guess.

Waylayed by three hours now we continued on further down the gorge stopping at several places along the way.

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Tiny village that looked almost deserted.

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Looking back down from the tower.
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Further down the valley.

The finale to this phenomenal drive was a steep descent to a dam across the river leading into a tunnel about half a mile long to emerge on the other side to the tailend of the gorge.  What a day, views wise it rated as our best day of the trip so far!

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Look at that concentration!

By now it was 4.30pm and we were still 3 hours away from our destination!  The drive to the coast was a comedown after the day we had had with the roads busy with lorries and sprawl after sprawl of factories and industry.    We got caught in a thunderstorm, which brought lightening and high winds, so we were mightily relieved to arrive at the aire at El Pouble Nou Del Delta at 7.30pm just in time to see the sea before it got dark.  With the weather as it was it looked more like the North Sea than the Mediterranean though!

The Parc Naturel del Delta de l’Ebre is a rice growing wetland area that is a haven for birdlife away from the busy coast road.  We are going to stay here for a couple of nights at least to enjoy the birds and a bit of flat cycling before trundling down the coast a bit towards Valencia.

Hasta la Próxima!

An extended pitstop in the Pyrénées.. .

Since my last update we visited our last bastide town before we made a beeline for the Pyrénées.  Cordes sur Ciel is purported to be the first bastide ever to be built in 1222.

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Gothic buildings on Cordes-sur-Ciel

It clings to the Mordagne peak standing 100 metres above the surrounding river valleys.

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The steep, narrow main street to the top of Cordes-sur-Ciel.

It is now a major centre for artists and the Cordes Academy holds many exhibitions drawing in visitors from far and wide.

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One of the fortified entry’s into the main town.

We arrived on Monday 5th September 2016 in the late afternoon.  We knew by the number of motorhomes at the aire below the town that it would be worth the visit but thought it best to explore the town on Tuesday morning when it would be cooler.

P1070935.JPGThe temperatures have remained in the low to mid thirties for several days now and the afternoons are really too hot for trekking up and down steep hills.

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The main narrow road up from the bottom of the town to the top is very steep and a feast for the eyes: cobbled streets, fortified walls, gothic archways, gothic and medieval houses decorated with flowers, kittens peering down from shuttered windows, the list goes on.

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Lower down the main street.
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A kitten surveying life below.

We explored all round the alleyways in the lower and upper town for a couple of hours just marvelling at the sheer scope of it all before hitting the road to make our way to the foothills of the Pyrénées. It was an easy drive skirting round Toulouse on the motorway with the Pyrénées in full view on the horizon.  We arrived at the little village of Siex after the two hour drive with not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the low 30’s. 

We found a little aire tucked away behind the village where another four vans were parked.  I said ‘bonjour’ to the lady in the next van and she asked if we were staying for a few days.  I said ‘oui’ as we wanted to do some cycling in the area.  She then became very animated telling me her husband was a keen cyclist and he could tell me about some of the routes he had done.  It turned out that the four vans were all together and whilst the men went out every day on the bikes the wives stayed behind presumably enjoying the sunshine and chewing the fat.  Her husband showed me the map of some of the rides they had done and invited us to join them the following day.  I politely declined as, even though they all looked to be in their 60’s, they also looked like Tour de France retirees judging by their muscly legs. They were doing rides of 60-70km on road bikes.  We would have been left behind on the flat let alone the hills.  Also Tim would have killed me if I’d happened to drop in to the conversation that we were partaking in an Anglo-French bike ride the next day.  Therefore, on Wednesday we headed off on a 40km bike ride which took us on a gentle incline through the Garbut river valley to the village of Aulus-les-Bains. 

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Aulus-les-Bains.

Even though it was really hot it was a superb ride as the densely forested hillsides provided some much needed shade. 

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Tiny church at the roadside to Aulus-les-Bains.

The water in the river tumbling down the valley is so clear it takes on an almost duck egg blue colour over the rocks.

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Heading up the valley towards Aulus-les-Bains.

From Aulus-les-Bains we just had to negotiate the Col de Latrappe, a 1111m pass taking us into the next valley and down into Ousto.  The climb is 5km long with an average gradient of 7.4%, the steepest sections being at 10%.  It was first used in the Tour de France in 1956 and has been featured another seven times, the last time being in 2011.  Only one thing for it really – get the bike into granny gear and grin and bear it.  I have to say Tim set off like a rat up a drainpipe and didn’t stop until we got to the summit some 45 minutes later!  I expect the ‘Tour’ guys do it in ten minutes but, no matter, we’d conquered our first ‘Col’!  The ride back down the other side was exhilarating, with the sun on our backs, whizzing past the poor blighters huffing and puffing up the hill. 

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Lunch stop.

We had a beautiful stop for lunch and then cruised down the valley back to Siex feeling very satisfied with ourselves. 

Whilst we were in Aulus-les-Bains we spotted another aire which would be ideal to do a couple of walks from and that is where we have been for the last four nights.  We have a lovely view of the hills and a field of sheep with clanking bells around their necks behind us. 

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The aire at Aulus-les-Bains.

Aulus-les-Bains  is best known for its thermal springs and spa complex.

We’ve done a few walks in the last three days twice climbing up and beyond the Cascade D’ars. The waterfall is 246m high and has three levels. 

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Cascade d’Ars.

At the moment there isn’t a massive amount of water coming down but I expect it’s spectacular after several days of rain. 

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It was a steep climb for 90 mins through the wooded hillside before reaching the waterfalls.

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Just below the top of the falls.
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Lunch stop at 1500m above the Cascade d’Ars.
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Looking back down the valley towards Aulus-les-Bains.

P1080014.JPGOn Friday were woken up by the sound of a saxophone coming from somewhere in the village.  Tim went to investigate and returned to the van to collect his clarinet saying there was an old boy playing a soprano sax in the park and he was off to join him.  I went down to have a look myself and there they both were sitting on a bench in the park banging out some French tunes. 

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An impromptu gig in the park.

I sat on the bench opposite with the chaps wife and she explained that they were staying in the village at the thermal spa for three weeks as it helps with their ailments.  

I’m currently updating the blog sitting on a bench enjoying the free internet access from the ‘office de tourisme’ whilst watching a cycle race coming down through the village.  We want to head over the Pyrénées into Spain in the next couple of weeks but also want to linger a bit longer in the hills to get some more hiking trails under our belts whilst the weather holds.  Tomorrow we have a very glamorous day planned with a back log of washing to do and a grocery shop on the agenda so we’ll be heading back down the valley to civilisation before making a further foray into the hills.

Bon  Journée!

 

Heading further South…. .

The Dordogne has been our friend now for the last 10 days.  With the temperatures in the mid thirties every day we haven’t strayed far from it.  It really is the most beautiful river with crystal clear water and a combination of limestone and pebbles on the bottom.  The natural beaches along much of it’s length are accessible and ideal for paddling and swimming.

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The Dordogne.

We have cooled off in the river at some point everyday and I’ve been able to walk upriver and float back down gently with the current.  Parfait!

We left the aire near Beynac-et-Cazanac on Monday 29th August 2016 and headed a little further East with no particular plan in mind.  We drove through the little village of Carsac-Aillac which had a pretty area with some shade and picnic benches and decided to stop for some lunch.  It turned out that the area was a designated aire and was so lovely we ended up staying for three nights.

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Aire at Carsac-Aille.

A disused railway line, now a cycle path, runs straight through the village running east to Souillac and North to Sarlat-la-Canéda.  We followed it cycling east until Peyrillac-et-Millac  and then crossed over the river to come back a different way.

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A ride along the disused railway.

We needed to find a laundry on Wednesday so opted to use the cycleway to find one in Sarlat.  It was only about 8km, flat (big thumbs up from Tim!) and lovely to be away from the traffic.  Unfortunately, the cycleway ends abruptly 2km outside Sarlat.  It’s a shame it hasn’t been extended to go right into Sarlat as the last 2km isn’t a particularly pleasant ride with several roundabouts to negotiate into the town.  Sarlat redeemed itself on Wednesday though after our experience on Saturday with the market.

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Sarlat.

Even though Wednesday is a market day it was much smaller and much less busy with mainly local fruit and veg stalls, cheeses, foie gras and the like being pedalled.

P1070769.JPGWe found a laverie at the top of the town and spent the 45 minutes whilst the washing was doing it’s thing wandering around the old town.  Sarlat, now we could see it, is impressive!  We arrived before the lunchtime rush and had time to wander the narrow streets, soaking up the fifteenth and sixteenth century buildings and restaurants with their tables spilling out onto the footpaths, ready for diners.

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Sarlat’s back streets.

I’m not sure how you would choose where to eat for lunch as there were so many gorgeous places on offer.  Lucky for us we had fresh French stick and cheese waiting for us back at the van so didn’t have that dilemma!  So, washing done and a quick flit to Lidl we got back to the cycle path and free wheeled nearly the whole way back to Carsac-Aillac.  We hadn’t really noticed but it had been a slight incline all the way to Sarlat. The afternoon was spent lazing by the river marvelling at how much we are enjoying the Dordogne area and how lucky we are to be doing this.

After three nights at Carsac-Aillac we felt the need to move on to Martel, another medieval town which made it’s name during the 13th and 14th centuries when the viscounts established a court of appeal here.

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That’s what I call a door in Martel.

The aire just outside the town looked newly laid and in reality was no more than a large carpark but it was free and we picked up a really strong signal from one of the hotels wifi.  We spent the evening, therefore, in silence binging on the internet!

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Martel.

Tim was as happy as larry doing some research for a new camera as I think we are in need of one. Ours has now got some black dots coming out on the middle of the photos.  (Keeping it stuffed down the side of my cycling shorts hasn’t seemed to agree with it!)

We cycled to Carennac, another Beaux Village de France, on Friday.  We’d parked up 6km away on the north side of the Dordogne as the village is very narrow and motorhomes aren’t allowed to go through it.  Having now seen it I can see why.

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Carrenac.

The bridge across the Dordogne was also equally narrow and just wide enough for cars or small vans.

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Too narrow for ‘Ollie’,.

The village is very compact and well preserved and is best known for its Quercy architecture.

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Carrenac.

With the bikes back on the van we made our way to Rocamadour and parked up at the free aire at the chateau above the old town.  Now we are into September we hoped it would be less busy even though it was a weekend.  The aire was very quiet with about half a dozen vans staying so it looked promising.  We had an early evening stroll down to the old town and to take some photos in the evening sunshine.

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Jaw dropping Rocamadour.

Rocamadour really does defy gravity with no less than seven churches built into the steep hillside.

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In medieval times pilgrims flocked here lured in by the supposed miraculous ability of Rocamadours Black Madonna.  Tim remarked, after looking at everyone hobbling up and down the many steps and steep slopes that, miracles or not, you can’t stop getting old!  Mmm, another reminder why we are doing this trip now before we aren’t able to support our own body weight up and down all these places.

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Lots of steps!

We felt in need of a good walk on Saturday from Rocamadour down through the valley.  We tried to find a place mentioned in the Wild Swim, France book of a blue pool nestled in amongst the woods at the bottom of the valley.

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Following the GR6 long distance path.

Unfortunately, all we found was a stretch of stagnant water, emerging from the hillside, which neither of us fancied getting into.  We noticed some diving equipment drying in the sun and spoke to the couple with it who told us the water is some 30 metres deep running underground and re-surfacing again a further 800m up the valley.  Rather them than me, diving doesn’t really appeal.

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The hillsides in this area are starting to turn to reds and browns.

It was disappointing not to find the pool we were looking for but the walk alone was worth it.  The trees on the valley sides seemed to be turning russet brown and red before our eyes in preparation for autumn although it seems a bit early, especially with the temperature in the thirties.

The last couple of days we have been heading further south visiting several Bastide towns along the way.

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Figeac, another Bastide town.
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Najac, hillside Bastide town.

We are parked up for the night at Cordes-sur-Ciel ready to explore it tomorrow before heading further south west and closer to the Pyrénées to see if we can do some walking and cycling.  We are feeling that we have a bit of Bastide Burnout now and crave a bit of open countryside and mountains.  Or as Tim said ‘I’ve seen enough of these Bastar Bastide towns now!

We’d better get a move on as we have to be in Faro in Portugal for the 14th November 2016 as I have booked a flight back to the UK to see my parents.  I haven’t told them yet so I hope they’ll be there otherwise I’ll have to prostrate myself onto other unsuspecting family.  It’ll be a test to see if they read the blog anyway!

A la prochaine!