Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 3 - Quillan/Bagnères-de-Luchon

To Madrid by the Pyrenees
Monday, June 18, 2012

Quillan -- D117 -- Cavirac -- Belvianes-et-Cavirac -- Saint-Martin-Lys -- D117 -- Pont d'Aliès -- D118 -- Axat -- Gesse -- D20 -- Bessède-de-Sault -- Aunat -- Rodome -- D20 -- D107 -- Niort-de-Sault -- Défilé d'Abdoutchis (Gorges du Rébenty) -- Mérial -- La Fajolle -- Col du Pradel -- D107 -- D25B -- Pujal -- Lavail -- D25 -- La Forgé -- Goulours -- Ascou -- D613 -- Ax-les-Thermes -- N20/E9 -- Savignac-les-Ormeaux -- Luzenac -- Albiès -- Ussat-les-Bains -- N20/E9 -- Sabart -- D8 -- Niaux -- Capoulet-et-Junac -- Capoulet -- Vicdessos -- D18 -- Port de Lers -- Etang de Lers -- D8F -- Aulus-les-Bains -- D32 -- La Bouche -- Les Escales -- Ercé -- Oust -- D3 -- Seix -- D17 -- Sentenac-d'Oust -- Bethmale --  Arrien-en-Bethmale -- Les Bordes-sur-Lez -- D4 -- Castillon-en-Couserans -- D804 -- Audressein -- D618 -- Argein -- Aucazein -- Illartein -- Augistrou -- Orgibet -- Augirein -- Saint-Lary -- D618 -- D44 -- Boutx -- Saint-Béat - D44 -- Marignac -- D125 -- Cazaux-Layrisse -- Salles-et-Pratviel -- Moustajon -- Bagnères-de-Luchon

(Click here to see initial Google map)


Wow! It took us only 10 minutes from Quillan before entering the heart of former Cathar territory Pays de Niort. What a treat! Our day's trip started with Défilé d'Adboutchis (Gorges du Rébenty).

Gorges du Rébenty and défilé d'Abdoutchis before you reach the village of Mérial

Shorty after, we drove uphill and arrived in La Forêt domaniale de la Fajolle, a wood natural reserve, where we took no pictures for the road was a bit difficult to ride. I got to mention this despite the lack of evidence, it was so beautiful! Not sure I would have remain quiet, knowing now that wolves and bears can be found there!

An hour and a half later, Philippe ordered tartiflette and salad for lunch break in Ax-les-Thermes.

As we rode on D18 from Vicdessos to Pont de Lers, near Suc-et-Sentenac, we ground to halt because our cameras were eager to shoot.

Port de Lers is said to be high (1517m) and rough mountain pass. For lazy motorized travellers and especially Swiss motorized travellers, it isn't. However, since it has been chosen as a stage of 2011 Tour de France, I might give a new consideration to it. We indeed saw a bunch of trained cyclists on the way, showing proud smile on their face while panting heavily. It seemed that riding this path meant something.

South-east view of Port de Lers and its green pastures and rolling hills and winding D18

North-west view of Pont de Lers. Uh-oh? Fog coming closer...

...and closer!

Philippe filmed the whole thing.

No! Actually, this wasn't fog but a cloud. I could tell by the tiny frozen crystal darts on my skin and that weird smell like smoke bomb. As we were busying ourselves with photoshooting, we realized too late we were surrounded and trapped! See for yourself :

As you can imagine, driving down was a real challenge as visibility was down to barely 5 meters because of cloud cover. We eventually resurfaced 3 kilometers further as we reached Etang de Lers, which is said to be haunted by a beggar's spirit according to a legend.

Etang de Lers

Oh well. With the impending rain in mind combined with exhaustion, we didnt't enjoy the rest of the day's program as much as we should have. Not to mention that the bike's tyres were getting dangerously over-used and demanded urgent change. Maybe what we just had was enough for the day. So we went from one place to the other, as fast as we could, and eventually arrived in Hotel d'Etigny in Bagnères-de-Luchon, a place I had picked up at random and turned out to be the cuttest and coziest hotel of our trip. Strange it is only rated 2 stars...

Outdoor garden terrace at Hotel d'Etigny

Following next :
Day 4 - Bagnères-de-Luchon/Zaragoza

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