82km: Villerouge-La-Crémade – Port-la-Nouvelle – Thuir.
The following morning, we checked the weather report: ah, sunshine. But also more wind: 40+km/h with gusts exceeding 70 km/hr. The owner of the gîte was not in the least bit surprised for this type of wind was seasonal. It even had a specific name: tramontane. We had no choice but to go against the wind and head further south-east.
Alright, we did have a choice but decided to head to the coast anyway. We arrived in the fishing village of Port-la-Nouvelle to find the Saturday market in full swing. If we needed cheap flip flops, this was the place to get them.
But we were just getting into the habit of showering with our socks on. Yann and I would both start our showers fully clothed to half-launder our cycling clothes before peeling them off. I’m not sure whether this was the most efficient method of getting our stretchy threads washed but that’s how we did it.
Yann was expecting Port-la-Nouvelle to be a sort of beach resort town rather than a town where fishmongers sling seafood. Even when we reached the sandy beaches of the town, hardly anybody was on the beach. After all, anybody who dared to set a foot on the beach was asking for a heavy duty sandblasting.
Yann and I considered cycling on the path along the beach until a gust of wind pinned me against a concrete barrier. Sand flew into my mouth and deflected off my large shades. I even replicated a common scene from old-timey horror movies where the female lead throws up her hands and goes, “Nooooooo!”
Had I been riding my road bike, I would have soared like a kite. This was the only day I was happy to be hauling all that weight on my bike.
We couldn’t stay in Port-La-Nouvelle and I was deeply averse to the idea of riding on the side of a very busy road while battling strong crosswind. Yann wanted the “challenge” of riding into the wind, not realizing there would be plenty more chances to test the aerodynamics of his moustache over the course of our trip.
Port-La-Nouvelle was one of the several towns on the coast where you could escape via rail.
We chose Perpignan as our destination with the rationale that there’d be more road options going out of a major city.
Our final destination for the 25th of August ended up being an old medieval walled city, Thuir, just 18km away.
Except we went on one crooked journey to get there:
For taking the long road, Yann was rewarded with this view:
(I was rewarded with the version that didn’t involve seeing myself.)
What stood out about Thuir was the smell. The entire village was cooking up some exquisitely spiced meat. All we had for dinner that night, however, was a jésuite and an apple.
The only hotel we could find in this little town was a two-star hotel/restaurant called Hotel Cortie. It was fully booked, but a guest who had booked two nights was a no-show the first night. If this person did not show up within the next half hour, the owner told us, the room was ours. I immediately knew we already had a room for the night, but I didn’t know what to expect from a two-star hotel room. Plywood doors? Toilet with no toilet seat? Worse-than-usual hotel room art? Slow WiFi?
The Wifi was fine: we got a chuckle out of the classic square Ikea table next to the beds. There wasn’t the usual queen-sized bed in the middle of the room, but two single beds separated by what was probably another Ikea particleboard table. The art did suck, but we could’ve just used the Wifi to look at better art.
Our destination for the next day was the last town we were certain about visiting: Arles-sur-Tech.