95km, 1163m climbing: Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines – Saint-Martin-Lys.
When we left Thuir on the 26th, I said, “It’s strange to think we’ll never be back here.”
Well, we came back. We arrived around lunchtime and decided to return to the same bakery for the third time to have another jésuite. The baker recognized us and remarked, “These jésuites are really addictive, aren’t they?”
(If you don’t know what a jésuite is, I’m not going to ruin the surprise.)
When we were in Girona and researching future destinations, I found a photo of a place that resembled one of my favourite rides at Disneyland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This place wasn’t Big Thunder Mountain, it was Les Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt.
Thuir just happened to be on the way.
The entrance of the park even made us feel like we were about to stand in a line for a ride.
I half expected to see one of those signs with an estimated wait time displayed before we could ride “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad”.
I like the look of mid-air poses so throughout the trip, whenever Yann was off his bike, I would yell, “JUMP!” expecting him to ask, “How high?” This trip, his typical response was, “But my legs hurt.”
“JUMP MOTHERFUCKER, JUMP!”
100% worth it.
I can also do a mean mid-air pose:
The last place I saw rock formations this cool was in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.
Considering how we were planning on heading into the Pyrénées anyway, Ille-sur-Têt was a worthwhile stop.
We didn’t really know where we would end up after Ille-sur-Têt. Our legs were to take us as far west as possible. We crossed a bridge over Lake Caramany, rode northwest along the lake via the D-21 and then switched to the D-9, taking another bridge over the lake.
The view kept getting better and better.
We made a turn on the D-619 in Ansignan and found ourselves riding in between mountains for about 10km before getting squeezed out at Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet.
This town had been our intended destination, but because the ride was going so well, we decided to continue. That was about to change.
Without the mountains to shield us, the wind was trying to blow our faces off. You’d think by now we’d have experienced being turbo-boosted by some tailwind. Apparently, we didn’t deserve that kind of luck.
At the end of the 20km ride through the wind which was coming in from the opposite direction at least twice our speed, my eyes sat a centimetre further apart. By the time we started looking for a hotel, it was a hassle finding anyplace open in one ghost town after another. We were even misled by a giant advertisement for a hotel that had clearly been shut down for some time.
We found a bakery and a grocery store open in the town of Axat where people, as Yann commented, “spoke French with the strangest accent.” The town’s only hotel, Hotel Axat, used the face of a defeated-looking teddy bear as their logo. Worse than that, they used the Chiller font on their price list. The only acceptable place for this font is on Halloween party invitations, or in typography hell.
France, in general, seems to have terrible graphic designers. Either that or business owners don’t bother with graphic designers. Comic Sans, Papyrus, Script, and even Curlz were all commonly used on French signage.
Hotel Axat was full anyway. We were more let down than their teddy logo as we had really wanted to stay at a hotel. Instead, we found a Dutch campsite in Saint-Martin-Lys: Camping Le Moulin Du Pont D’Alies. The strange French accents Yann had heard a kilometre back in Axat had now been identified.
Our spot at Camping Le Moulin Du Pont D’Alies was as close as France could get to mimicking a North American-style campsite. There was even a very rickety picnic table to sit at by the river.
The washroom building being covered in moths was also a nice touch.
Honestly, I don’t think Hotel Axat would’ve been much better.
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