Rob Ennals > Travel > Simon and Rob Invade and Conquer France

Day 12: Crack 'n' Fail

Limoux -> Lezignan Corbieres

Simon was quite excited. Our lunchtime stop for this day was to be at Carcasonne, which Simon had been reliably informed was something quite special. Carcasonne is marketed as a picturesque ancient citadel and one of the "must see" places in the area. We thus pulled into it with a large amount of hype in our heads.

Simon's guidebook told us that Carcassone had been restored in Victorian times. Unfortunately the French attitude to restoration is "replace with a fake that more closely resembles what people expect it to be like". The most prominent features of the citadel thus turned out to be largely non-original. Also odd was the fact that the innards of the citadel were occupied by a shops. I commented that it felt like a cross between the Tower of London and the Grafton center. We stopped to have lunch and to look at the things the guidebook said we had to look at, and then left, feeling rather less impressed than we felt we were supposed to.

Simon had noticed that there was a canal (the Canal du Midi) that went from where we were to very close to where we wanted to go. We decided that it would be fun to follow the towpath and so avoid busy roads. The towpath tempted us onto it with a nice, well maintained road surface, waited just long enough for us to feel committed to it, and then turned into an off-road jungle. The mix of potholes, roots, and undergrowth made it quite difficult to navigate, but also quite fun. I prayed for an absence of stinging nettles, and was thankfully rewarded, accepting thorn bushes as a compromise.

On one of the better maintained stretches, Simon suggested that it might be fun if we swapped bikes. I thus got to experience the regal luxury of riding a suspension-equipped Cannondale, while Simon subjected himself to my cheap boneshaker. This swap lasted just long enough for me to break the Dale's chain, at which point we swapped back - pausing for around half an hour while Simon removed the broken link, those around it, and those he broke while trying to put the chain back together. The resultant configuration had a chain so short that Simon couldn't actually shift into all his gears, but Simon assured me that this didn't matter.

The weather was even hotter than it had been before, and this seemed to have caused a plague of flies to be inflicted upon us. We sang a song in praise of bats, but unfortunately this failed to cause any to come to our assistance.

As we pulled into our campsite, we were pleased to see that it was attached to a swimming pool - a perfect opportunity to chill our bodies, show off our tan-lines, and swallow nausea-inducing quantities of pool-water.