Re: [Yak] Trip report Two spots in Southern France Sept 2008 (long)
sousaj at bauercom.net
Wed Sep 24 20:39:34 CDT 2008
Thanks for the report! Not long enough : )
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 11:14 AM, Richard Frasier <
rich.frasier at greenrhombus.net> wrote:
> We¹ve just finished a great trip to France that involved cycling in some
> areas that are not on the tourist ³A-list². I thought it might be
> interesting for the group to hear about them, so here goes. I apologize in
> advance for the length.
> We have a well-used 1990s-era Two¹sDay with Sachs ³New Success² components
> and a Hope drag brake. We¹re not hard-core riders, sort of slightly
> out-of--shape 50-somethings. We both speak French with various levels of
> facility (note disclaimer).
> We flew on Delta. Portland-Salt Lake City-Paris-Lyon on the outbound
> Lyon-NYC-SLC-Portland on the way back. The bags came through in fine
> One bag was 44 pounds, the other 41 pounds. No complaints or issues from
> Delta or the security folks. No damage to the bike at all.
> We rented a car from Avis in Lyon. Because of the suitcases for the bike,
> we got a big one. A Ford Mondeo turbo-diesel. Someone referred to it as a
> ³Diplomat¹s Car² during our trip. It was definitely a challenge getting the
> car in and out of some of the small French car parks and garages. But on
> the autoroute - nice!
> We drove from Lyon to a small town called Maubourguet, just north of Tarbes
> in Gascony (the departement is Midi-Pyrenees). We stayed at the ³Mart-Inn²
> (www.mart-inn.com), which is a B&B owned by our long-time friend Martine
> (note disclaimer). This is a great accommodation beautifully furninshed
> and very comfortable with great breakfasts and dinners. It¹s really
> well-located for riding. Martine speaks fluent English as she lived in
> upstate New York for a few years. She¹s a great resource for recommending
> wineries and other spots to visit. She has an open garage where you can
> assemble and store your bike. In the summer, there¹s a swimming pool and of
> course a court for playing boules!
> The area is absolutely gorgeous. It¹s composed of flat, fairly wide river
> valleys interspersed with hills. Beautiful old villages and open green
> countryside. There are wineries, beer-makers and Armagnac makers to visit,
> and great food everywhere. The local cuisine emphasizes all parts of the
> duck. We couldn¹t find a bad meal.
> For riding, you can choose your difficulty level. If you want easy riding,
> just stay in the valleys. If you want views and old bastide towns, then up
> into the hills you go. The climbing is pretty easy and short none of the
> climbs we took were killers. But you can definitely work up a sweat and
> work off that duck liver pate!
> One ride we did was from Maubourguet to Bassous and had an excellent lunch
> in the ³Café Sport² don¹t be fooled by the name. Then back to
> Maubourguet. About 40 miles round-trip. We went through Marciac on that
> ride. They have a jazz festival there every summer that is famous
> throughout France. We also rode the valley from Maubourguet down to
> Vic-En-Bigorre, dodging the rain showers and marveling over the villages
> old houses. Other possible rides would be to the wineries near Madiran and
> Maumusson. Or to the small towns of Tillac or Lambeye. The options are
> literally endless.
> >From Maubourguet, we drove about 4 hours south-east to a village called
> Ille-Sur-Tet, about 30km east of Perpignan, in French Catalonia. Instead
> of breaking down the Two¹sday, we folded it and put it into the trunk of
> car. This area is much different than Gascony. Much drier and often
> Ille-Sur-Tet is unbelievably old-world. Tiny streets that are too narrow
> for cars (our Mondeo for sure), a small market square with cafes, the whole
> deal. We rented a 2 bedroom house in the village on 4 floors!
> For riding, we mostly did short forays up into the hills. We drove with
> bike one day up to Vinca and rode from there up to Molitg-Les-Bains, then
> back to Prades for lunch. There¹s an old-fashioned Spa/Hotel in Molitg
> that was definitely too classy for our bike clothes. We went back in the
> car later in the week for dinner fantastic! We also rode from
> up into Belesta, where there¹s a pre-history museum and more wineries. Then
> back down to Millas (Olives) and Thuir (more wine) before circling back to
> Overall, the roads in France were awesome and the drivers very courteous.
> Most of the roads we were on were very narrow - often without center lines
> but the French work things out. The law is that they must keep a 1.5 meter
> distance from you as they pass and I think there were only about 4 or 5
> vehicles in the 2 weeks that violated that. The Two'sDay performed like a
> champ and we used the folding ability to avoid busy roads and focus our
> riding on the fun parts.
> If you¹re thinking about a biking vacation in France I would highly
> recommend either of these locations. Maubourguet was our favorite. If you
> book with Martine, tell her Rich and Robin recommended her!
> Again, I apologize for the length. Hopefully this is of interest to some
> you, and shows how traveling with the Two'sDay can work.
> Rich and Robin Frasier
> Tandem Two¹sDay ³The Red Sled²
> Portland, OR
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> Yak at bikefriday.com
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