Day 41 Sunday 3rd July 2016 104km (3835km in total)
“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” – Tom Stoppard
It seems that the further south I go, the people in the campsites wake up later. When I was in Germany and Scandinavia, the campsite’s would often feel fully awake by 8 or 9am. Now, when I leave at 8pm it seems I’m the only person up!
There was a student couple in a camper van I met at the campsite, from Austria. After telling them I’d spent over a month getting from Norway to France, I felt a little disheartened when they told me it had only taken them a few hours to drive from Austria to Sète, and would drive tomorrow afternoon to Barcelona. It had taken me weeks to get from Austria to here!
I had decided to fly back from Girona which is north east Spain. It was only a few days ride away and still hadn’t bought myself a ticket! Luckily, now days you can buy tickets last minute and while using wifi from McDonalds, I was able snatch one of the last seats.
The original plan for this trip always was to reach Spain. Where in Spain I didn’t know. I had many possible options, including Barcelona, Santander or Santiago. I realised that it might not be the best time to do the Santiago way because of two reasons. One is that it is the hottest time to go and secondly it would be peak time so the route would be full of walkers, making it difficult to cycle. I also felt it deserves it’s own dedicated trip, something I look forward to in the future!
Sète was busy and thriving for a small seaside port. The streets were full and cycle paths un-rideable. I saw a parade through the streets, with plenty of police blocking the roads. Brass bands were playing, drums could be heard and people dressed up in white outfits wit red or blue hats.
I later found that the parade was the start of the water jousting tradition. An event that takes place on the water involving two boats or teams ‘jousting’ with poles. A tradition that has been happen in Sète since 1666 to celebrate the opening of the port after the Canal du Midi had been dug.
l already knew some of todays route, having cycled along the coast around Sète a few years ago with my family. It’s funny cycling along then seeing places where we had stopped for snacks or breaks.
It was still very windy today, with a headwind most of the day. I was wondering how far I could have cycled if I was going the other direction! However, whatever the direction you travel, it normally feels like there is a headwind, sometimes it’s just the panniers!
Unlike in Italy, France doesn’t appear to have any water points in towns and villages. Although I carry around four litres with me, I soon get through it. After lunch I popped into a nearby Lidl to find a beverage. With limited choice, I found a lemon drink which I thought would be nice and refreshing. However, after queuing for 10 minutes, I took a few gulps from the dark bottle and instantly regretted it.
I somehow didn’t notice the ‘syrup’ wording on the packaging! I felt a little sick after probably having more than my recommended daily sugar amount in a few seconds! I had to lie down beneath the trees for the next hour to recover…
On the way to the campsite, I was passing lots of lakes and water. I then saw people pulling up and taking pictures. As i drew closer I realised that they were actually small salt lakes. Almost looking like snow, it was glistening in the evening sunshine. The first salt lakes I have ever seen, even though it was a small one I was impressed!