August 2015, Aumont - Aubrac. On the longest stage.
800 Km in 14 days. The longest section up to now. Since Aumont Aubrac is by train hard to achieve, we drive first to Beziers, where the car will stay for 2 weeks.
Map by (c) 4UMaps.com
Day 1. At 6 am runs one of two trains per day to Aumont Aubrac. In our train the decrepit locomotive gives up after an hour, and we sit for several hours in the flat province before the next train brings us in the afternoon to Aumont Aubrac. Nevertheless, we still have to bike 50km to Saint-Chely-d'Aubrac.
The Camino crosses the famous Aubrac plateau at 1300m altitude. Here is looks like in Scotland, as lonely it is.
Day 2. The morning begins rainy, just after Saint-Chely-d'Aubrac we pull the rain jackets out. Down to Saint-Côme-d'Olt in the Lot valley, it goes very fast on nice trails from 1300m down to 700m. However, clouds are becoming more dense. We just make it barely in the village where a sensational thunderstorm comes down while a band is playing under a few canopies :-). See video.
The Camino now follows for some time the river Lot. Passing Espalion and Estaing.
The rain will not forget us until we reach in the evening Golinhac. But the hostess has forgotten the reservation, after a few hours waiting 🙁 this clears out.
Day 3. Still bad weather, the roads are muddy accordingly. In Conques, the sensational medieval village we have lunch break.
The supplied calories are then immediately burned again, the path rises steeply to 400Hm. It remains rainy. Behind Livinhac-le-Haut we have booked a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, this is so off that dinner has to be canceled, a piece of cheese and old bread have to do it. The hostess is also incredibly rude. Everything but sleeping is forbidden. This is reflected for her unfortunately into a poor booking.com review 🙁
Day 4. Thick fog over the landscape, through the heavy rain in recent days. This looks quite funny, at least it has stopped raining.
Then finally around noon in Figeac comes out the sun and dries up all the wet clothes.
Faycelles is another very beautiful village with a sensational location. Then when cycling up a staircase with the bike pops me a spoke. This reduces the driving pleasure already drastically, the rear wheel has still to hold 10 days. There are also creaking noises, it is still unclear where that comes from. Mostly at gravel and on some trails it goes up to Cajarc. There, the rear wheel is re-centered and bikes are washed.
Day 5. The next few days are predicted very warm. Therefore, we start early. We meet a German couple from Swabian pulling a child trailer with a baby and a toddler on the Camino. The two have met several years ago on the Camino. In the previous year they have tried it with the children and a donkey. The donkey was much worse than the children 🙂
We look forward to Cahors, where we have a rest day. Along the way there is an opportunity to chat with some pilgrims. Some we meet on the second day again. Great joy, that are almost old friends.
Day 6. Day off in Cahors. To make the laundry. Read. City tour, eat, sleep
Day 7. Immediately behind the Cahors bridge the way climbs on stairs straight up, the bikes have to be shouldered. But soon there is a nice view from above:
Pumpkin fields and sunflower fields now dominate the landscape. In the evening we booked another Bed and Breakfast in Lauzerte (another one of these beautiful towns).
Day 8. The temperatures continue to rise. This helps in the evening to dry clothes, but it becomes more and more unpleasant. We leave as soon as possible in the morning. In Moissac with its monastery and the beautiful city center, we take a lunch break.
From here the Camino follows for for many kilometers the Canal du Midi. This is feared by the hikers because is is mostly paved and straight ahead. As a biker this is a pleasure, since fast. The afternoon temperatures rise to 39 degrees and we use every shade we can find.
In the evening we have in the la-ferme-de-Villeneuve the best overnight stay at this stage. Be sure to check in! Roseanne is incredibly friendly, cooks great and also washes the laundry. We have a great evening with other pilgrims.
Day 9. It remains hot. The landscape since Cahors iecomes more and more flat. Thus we can progress more quickly. The 50Km / day we usually already made around 3 pm, which is quite pleasant in the heat. This leaves time for a coffee break. In Marsolan we talk in the afternoon with other pilgrims and listen to their stories. The average pilgrim makes his 20-25km a day.Some also 40-50km! Respect.
Behind La Romieu we have again a Bed and Breakfast that is beyond all restaurants. This time, we are prepared and have shopped accordingly. The hostess is very friendly, but the room smells a little damp.
Day 10. The pilgrims and friends of the day before we meet during the morning again. Amazing how far they make it in a day on foot. However, they start sometimes even at 5:30 am. In Condom! (The towns name is really so) is the famous monument of the 5 musketeers that are from the area:
Between Montreal and Eauze the path runs partly on an old abandoned railway line. Nice flat, pretty fast for bikers. We make it just as the first drops of rain to the hotel in Nogaro. A gigantic thunderstorm starts.
Day 11. The storm of the previous day has served on the Mediterranean coast severe damage and flooding. Again, many trees are uprooted. At the start, the weather is still ok to some extent, but then it starts raining. Rain jacket and pants are hip. Nevertheless, the moisture presses by after some time everywhere. Fortunately the stage to Aire-sur-l'Adour is quite short (I made something wrong during the planning). The Bed and Breakfast is an inconspicuous from the outside, which turns out to be inside a palace with a 2 bedroom apartment. Enough space for the clothes to dry.
Day 12. After Aire-sur-l'Adour the Camino is partially completely flat. After all, one can see the Pyrenees on the horizon some time already. There are still abundant trees on the way that can be bypassed sometimes difficult. The country inn in Maslacq has seen better times, but the owners are very nice and good at cooking.
Day 13. The whole night it rained heavily. Everything is muddy, and the bikes pull the clay formally. We leave here the original pilgrimage. Instead of following the Camino to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port where the Camino Frances starts, we travel on a own bike route to Irissarry. Because of time pressure we must skip a stage, and want 2016 anyway ride the Camino Norte, why we want to Bayonne at the Atlantic. The Basque Country that starts here has however only some dirt roads why we cycle the 75km oftern on the road. Turn off the brain, music on and pedal.
After all we booked this supercool Bed and Breakfast in Irissarry:
The owners are hilarious and cute.
Day 14. After a great breakfast we cycle partly on a Pilgrim connector through the Basque Country to Bayonne.
The houses here have either red doors and windows, or green. Point. Other colors do not exist.
The stage is again really nice, always along the edge of the Pyrenees, but the foothills reach even a height of 1000m.
Bayonne has a great old town and is worth seeing on the Atlantic. Thanks to TripAdvisor, we find a great restaurant in the old town for the farewell menu.
Day 15. In the morning at 7 o'clock comes the train back to Beziers. We arrive there at 2 pm, and the car is still there.
See you 2016 on the Camino Norte 🙂