“Cool, a tunnel!” That was Andrew’s reaction as we approached the entrance, nearly a kilometer of darkness ahead of us. Friedel was less enthusiastic. She’s not claustrophobic, but tunnels with their narrow passageways and sometimes aggressive drivers aren’t her favourite place to be on a bike. We sped through, swerving around several dark corners before finally reaching the end. Outside once again, the rain was still coming down. It had been raining off and on all day; too bad since this route along the Tarn river looked like it would normally be quite scenic. We remember the dramatic Tarn gorges further upstream from our bike ride through France in the autumn and already at this point the river starts to show some of the same characteristics with its high banks and scenic towns perched on the edge of the water. Our shoes were getting wetter by the minute though so we weren’t in much of a mood to stop and admire the view or take pictures. Instead we pedalled hard to get to the nearest campground. Earlier in the day we spent a few hours in the city of Albi. It didn’t look like much from the outskirts, a bit dirty and bland if we’re honest, but the centre was actually quite nice with a unique cathedral and lots of green spaces. One of the parks gave us just enough shelter under its trees for us to have lunch. By later afternoon we reached a spot on the Tarn that has several campgrounds and decided it was time to stop to see if the sun might poke through long enough to dry our tent out before dark. We should have a tranquil night since the site we stopped at is completely empty, except for a few ducks paddling their way up the river. Apparently the French don’t really go in for camping so early in the season, preferring to wait until the weather is better in July and August. Can’t say we blame them when we see days like today!
10th May 2007 at 4:00 pm #
Road notes: We camped in Courris, a village just outside Ambialet. There are several campsites in and around Ambialet and we stopped at the “camping à la ferme”, a peaceful spot run by a retired couple. The other one open early in the season is the Camping Aux Rives du Tarn (www.vacair.com). Albi is worth seeing for the town centre and it has a couple cybercafés, although they are expensive at €4 an hour! You may find cheaper access at the “point jeunesse”, just across from the cathedral. Albi also has a campground, Camping Caravaning du Languedoc, which is open from April 1 and advertises 25% off its rates for cyclists.
What we spent: €19 groceries, €12.70 camping, €2 internet, €1 petrol
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