Friday, 23 July 2010

Day 9: Toulouse to Carcasonne

On a bright and cloudy morning the medmen are working our merry way to Carcasonne. Jeff got lost in Toulouse following the sat nav. The ciccerone guide advises not to cycle under the bridges in and around Toulouse and we can see why. Lots of homeless people have set up what almost look like homes under many, complete with chests of drawers, beds and personal effects. Mike celebrated us finding the canal again with pain raisin and peche for breakfast.

The cafe in Laval, 20 miles out from Toulouse, is a typically austere affair, with a pool table and ancient space invaders machine in the corner. James determines that the owner is a former Toulouse scrum half from the photo's on the walls, and, being a keen union man, has his photo taken with the highly undemonstrative patron. Mike locates a Pharmacy and stocks up on some huge back warming pads to help with a spasm engendered by a an eight foot drop and sudden rise on the towpath out of Toulouse. Mike is also having trouble map reading, but has found a solution.

James was now in charge of the midi guide book and the map, meanwhile Mike quoted from the guide about the steeped history of the area - did you know that our cafe we are having our morning coffee was visited by Wellingtons men in 1807? Great entertainment is had when Jeff, reaching for a pan au chocolat from his back pannier manages to slide from the steeply banked towpath into the undergrowth. he disappeared so rapidly from view that Mike and James thought he'd been snagged by the sauvage cochon (wild boar) of the midi.

Not long after, we cycled past this car that had also been savaged by the boar, these are dangerous times for the Med men! As the rain settles in again, we entertain ourselves with some
singing. James is certainly the King of the Balladeers, with his robust welsh anthems. Mike chips in with a fairly depressing 'My dreams have withered and died' and Jeff is eventualy moved to contribute a line or two from 'Tambourine man'. To keep our spirits up/stop thinking about the rain, we devise a game whereby we have to elicit the best reponse fromthe numerous french boating holiday makers via the medium of song. It's hard to describe why you'd find this kind of thing entertaining, but when your underpants are wetter than they'd be in a washing machine, and your feet have taken on the texture - and colour - of tripe, you do. Even two to one, James is the hands down favourite with the natives.

After the canal gets slow, narrow and bumpy beyond Castelnaudary, we hit the main D33 road and make brilliant time into Carcassonne. With the wind behind us on flat ground we maintain speeds of up to 28 mph. A quick trip to the office de tourisme in the new town and we we're on our way to the 'Camping de la Cite' site on the south of the Aude, less than a mile from the imposing walled Cite Medievale, which Jeff explains was built by Walt Disney in 1647. It certainly looks that way.