67km St Jean d’Alcapiès to Estelle
The sun finally made an appearance today. It’s no exaggeration to say we were thrilled! We barely noticed the weather before this trip. If it was raining we just took an umbrella along and hurried to work or home. Now the sun, or lack of it, really makes a difference to not only how far we go but how we feel every day. With the sun on our backs this morning we rolled through rural backroads, not far at all from where the famous Roquefort blue cheese is made. All through the region sheep filled the green fields, producing milk to make the cheese, and in the distance we saw the cliffs with their caves where the cheese is aged. The local cheese industry means there are a few more trucks than normal on these country roads, collecting milk from the various farms and taking it to Roquefort to be transformed. A few times we felt squeezed: a bike plus a truck makes for a tight fit on the twisty, narrow route. We lunched in La Couvertoirade, perhaps the only French town or village in the whole country where it’s impossible to buy bread! We were perplexed until we realised we’d fallen upon a medieval walled city, which attracts tourists in their hundreds. It was a pretty place to walk around with its antique houses, stone walls and numerous artisan shops but not so practical in terms of buying food for lunch. The nearest grocery store is six kilometers away. We searched the bottom of our panniers and came up with a minestrone soup mix, which of course we bulked out with pasta. You know you’re a cyclist when the packet says “serves 4” and you still try and double the quantity. After lunch we had the wonderful feeling that we so rarely get on this trip of knowing where we were going. We were returning to visit with our friends Ingrid and Yves for a few days, who we originally met last November through the Warm Showers list. We instantly got on together and so there was never any question that we would plan a return visit. We trudged up a couple small hills and then enjoyed the superb downhill stretch to their home. An evening followed of laughs, great conversation, wine and a delicious meal prepared by chef Yves. What a wonderful way to recover after a few challenging days on the bikes.