72km Montech to Gaillac
Election day in France. As we rolled out of Montech we saw more people than usual in the streets for a Sunday morning, obviously out early to cast their vote. We were more focused on the ride ahead, which couldn’t get properly underway until we’d stopped at bakery for two chocolate pastries. Weekend luxuries! The cloudy skies quickly gave way to sunshine and by lunchtime we were rolling over gentle hills and beside the Tarn river, through a string of rural villages. The wind appeared at our backs and helped us along, into the town of Gaillac by early afternoon. Gaillac greeted us with a less-than-beautiful sight: “Hotel Paris” and its neighbour, simply signed “Hotel” and “Open 24 Hours”, looked like the kind of places we would cycle another 100km to avoid. In fact, the whole street was somewhere we didn’t want to be after dark, but a little further on the town centre appeared surprisingly pleasant. We headed for the tourist office and got pulled in by the adjacent wine tasting shop. It was a pleasant way to spend part of our Sunday, sipping red and sweet white wines from the region. Carrying several bottles of wine on a bike is less than practical but we managed to find space for a few, one for this evening and a couple to share with friends down the road. After our shopping spree we ambled our way towards the only campground in the region and set up our tent, played cards and generally relaxed in the sunshine. We were briefly excited when the owner came to tell us they had a wireless internet connection that we could use but the signal wasn’t strong enough for us to connect to. France has been horrible for internet access. Only the biggest cities have cybercafés and public access points have very restricted hours. We always seem to arrive just as the doors are closing for a three hour lunch break. With most shops closed on Monday and a holiday on Tuesday we are now unlikely to find anything before Wednesday. A far cry from Portugal!