Karen’s new bike has arrived. She has opted for bigger tires and a more upright position and it looks like that is a great choice for this trip.
From Sisteron we take the train to the Mediterranean at the start of the Canal du Midi. This ancient Canal runs from the Mediterranean to Toulouse, where we can meet the Canal du Garonne that runs all the way to the Atlantic. This amazing project was started in the 16th century and it makes for a great bike tour of 800 kilometers. The route is easy to follow; there are no cars and the trail is mostly dirt and gravel, at least for the first few days. We begin to pass the locks that raise and lower the boats every few kilometers. These are the only uphill sections as we climb from the Mediterranean.
The towns we encounter are lined with boats, all tied up and waiting for summer. #Canal Life looks pretty tempting since you can go to all over France on these boats. Sometimes our biggest challenge is figuring out where to stop and eat or sleep for the night. At this time of year we have many choices as there is almost no one riding the canal and the boats all await their summer visitors. Of course, many of the restaurants are closed as well, but we find some amazing French meals. Even our trailside lunches are incredible, with baguettes cheese, juicy tomatoes and saucisson. This is not a hardship and deprivation bike tour; although the riding is occasionally rough on dried up mud and grassy single track and we are tired at the end of the day. It is very interesting so far, even though there is not much elevation gain/ loss. The route has a dream like quality, as we roll along in our slow travel mode. The days are warm and you can see the trees begin to leaf out. We are headed generally north but springtime is traveling faster than we are.
We woke up today in the town of Carcassonne. It was so nice and we are staying in such a great hotel that we declared a rest day then spent the morning at the market. We are 150 km into the tour and the next major city is Toulouse. It will likely be couple of weeks before we reach the Atlantic.