Posts Tagged ‘Minerve’

Today’s picture was sent to me by Bruce and enables me to portray the weather we are missing at home while we are here. It shows a tree in our park.

gale damage

Of course I wouldn’t be so mean to my friends at home as to post a picture of the wonderful weather that we enjoyed today  here in the south of France…

Sunny day


The weather was really perfect for elderly cyclists today, sunny but not too hot, nice light winds to provide a cooling breeze and no rain or gales of any sort.

We had decided to leave the flat lands of the canal today and to venture into the foothills to our north.  The fine Cathar city of Minerve was our target. It is tucked into a narrow gorge and to get at it we had to climb our first long hill of the holiday.   Mrs Tootlepedal came up trumps and climbed steadily up to well over 600ft without a moment’s hesitation.  Once at the top, we got a taste of the limestone country we were heading for.

The hills of the Parc Naturel Regional de Haut Languedoc

The hills of the Parc Naturel Regional de Haut Languedoc

Once over the hill we faced a plunge down a steep valley to the ancient cité.  The gorge is very spectacular.

gorge at Minerve

Sadly though, it was too much for my feeble head for heights and I couldn’t mange to cycle down the steep sided road so we beat a retreat and found a gentler approach across the top of the hill.  This was a lovely ride in itself and we stopped for a bite of bread and local paté on our way.  We also stopped at a panoramic view point and looked down .


Minerve lying far beneath us at the junction of two deep ravines

The cité of Minerve

The cité of Minerve

The river bed was carved from limestone and made for a wonderful sight comparable to the Cheddar Gorge though Mrs Tootlepedal thought it even more majestic than that.

Limestone cliff

It was not country for someone with vertigo at all.


Luckily the road we were on wound its way down to the side of the gorge in gentle curves and we headed back towards Minerve alongside the river bed.  There didn’t seem to be a drop of water in the river but it must be  an impressive sight when the snow is melting.  The cité itself is built on a rocky promontory towering above the river bed.


As the only way to approach it was along a cliff top road or over this bridge…

Minerve bridge

…I am unable to tell you what it was like inside.  It certainly looked literally fabulous from where we were.  The gorge behind it looks even better than the gorge in front of it.  Reluctantly we set off back down river and soon found a gentler bridge to cross…

La Caunette

La Caunette

This was a delightful little town cut into the side of the gorge under a limestone cliff…

La Caunette

You can see the cliff at the far end of the street.

…and it had the added benefit of having a café that was open where we enjoyed a morning coffee.  We were serenaded by a little bird at full throttle on a nearby rooftop.

bird in La Caunette

I miss the garden birds of home.

After coffee we pedalled off along wide and well surfaced roads with little traffic on until we came to Aigues-Vives, a pretty but by the standards of the places we had seen already, undistinguished town.  It did have a bench by the roadside under a shady tree though, so we stopped there gratefully to have our picnic lunch of paté, goats cheese and chocolate mousse.

Then the call of the flat lands came to us and we pedalled south across some lovely, gently hilly country until we hit the Canal du Midi again at Paraza, where we found a café open beside the canal.  This was how we had imagined our holiday being –  a little pedal, some lovely views, warm sunshine, a little more pedalling,  a café here, a little more pedalling, another café there.  Today filled the bill precisely.

The canal is irresistibly fascinating and although we were cycling along the road beside it and not using the tow-path, we could admire the fine rows of trees along it.

Plane trees

We couldn’t avoid seeing the dead and dying trees as we passed and noted the executioners rings on condemned trees in many places.

condemned trees

Although we were not on the canal, we still managed to stop at a lock to do a bit of rubbernecking.


Two venerable boatmen handling their craft in front of a backdrop of trees.

There are frequent notices warning of falling branches due to the tree plague.

Chute de branches

The view along the canal shows why.

Dying plane trees

Our hostess Val tells us that they are going to be replaced with disease resistant trees plane trees from London.

We left the canal and headed home to Pepieux by busy main roads for the last few miles to complete a wonderful day out.  Those interested can find the rather wiggly route here.  Mrs Tootlepedal would like to point out that it had about 35 miles of distance and 1300ft of climbing.  She was proud considering how little cycling she has done in the evil weather of the summer at home.  I was jolly pleased too as we have done 150km in three days which is a lot for me.

We rounded off proceedings with another excellent evening meal with conversation.  We are happy.

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