Carcassonne to Beziers – 75km
It was cold and clear again this morning. The temperature is not much above 0 degrees C when we head out, climbing to around 9C by afternoon. During the previous two days cycling we had had a strong, cold tailwind, which continued to blow in Carcassonne. From the references to local winds made in the presentations in the Cité, we have probably been experiencing Le Vent Tramontane, which brings dry, cold air from the north.
As we cycled east over the Pont Neuf, we had a lovely view of the Cité and Pont Vieux, and probably our last of the snow-capped Pyrenees in the background. We were soon in the midst of the vineyards of Minervois. The terra-cotta roofs and olive groves indicated we were getting closer to the Mediterranean.
We met up with the Canal du Midi a fews times, in particular at Azille where it is carried by an aqueduct. We confirmed that the tow path was not suitable for our bikes.
We had lunch in Cabezac at an unpretentious bar/brasserie/gas station, with a great sunny patio. We looked dubiously at the menu de jour, which was buffet entrées and all meat mains. A waitress, who spoke to us in French, but then switched to English when she heard us speaking (she was from England) said we could try the buffet. Skeptically, we went inside to see and we’re amazed to find fresh artichokes in olive oil, sardines, chick pea salad with fresh mint, sun dried tomato tart, and potato salad with smoked herring, among other things!
We are staying in Beziers, another lovely old hill-town, which of course meant a stiff uphill climb with the bikes at the end of the day! This town suffered a massacre of 6000 people in 1209 at the hand of the “Black Prince” before he went on to attack Carcassonne during the Albigensian Crusade.