Our first week in France has sped by, in a blaze of croissants and sunshine, although we haven’t done much riding. The weather has improved vastly, so Jim is now constantly grumpy from being too hot, and the tan lines are getting sharp.

From Ax-les-Thermes we climbed up col de chioula (1431 m) and met a lovely cyclist from America who was riding from Barcelona to Paris (hello Henry!). It’s really cool to connect with a stranger and find out about someone else’s touring experiences. Then we found ourselves climbing through a valley of mini-cols (around 250 m!) till we reached the tiny french village, south of Carcassonne, where my Aunt Miranda lives.

I am lucky enough to have family all over the world, and shameless enough to impose on them all if I am travelling through their area, but it was really lovely to see Miranda, catch up and stay two nights so we could have a rest day off the bike.

On our rest day I went for a short run and then we explored the local river swimming spot, incredibly beautiful waterfalls and pools, totally secluded and empty! It was amazing.

We then relocated to north of Carcassonne where my Uncle Dick, Aunt Alexandrine and newest cousin Lilly May live. Another day off, lazing around in the sunshine, playing with Lilly may and enjoying doing nothing. I really love seeing my family and as it was Lilly may’s second birthday we got to see her get her first proper bicycle! I’m sure she will soon be whizzing around on it!

The break from cycling and having some family time was a really fantastic end to our first month touring. It’s totally flown by while also seeming like we have already been on tour forever. We are just having the best time!

Since leaving the Carcassonne area we have headed east on an old railway turned cycle path, and are enjoying the shady forests of the Languedoc Roussillon region. The weather has been really good, and the swimming pools at the campsites are now open!


Jim’s words: Sunshine, Tranquil, Swimming, Quiet, Play, Railway, Serene