A chilly night outside, but nice and snug in the van with the has hearing on. Wild camping means surviving on my measly 25mb a day roaming data limit, but it probably does me good to use the Internet less!
Familiar roads to start with as I descended into Laruns and the headed on towards Pau, where it was time to stock up on provisions – the first proper shop for several days, a proper Intermarche Super, so plenty of choice. One thing the Spanish haven’t really got yet is big supermarkets, they effectively survive on the local coop type supermarket and specialist stores. It’s like Britain from about 30 years ago. The likes of Carrefour are starting to make an appearance though.
After spending a good hour mooching up and down the aisles looking for more regional food ideas, I managed to get without breaking the bank. Also only one bottle of wine, I’ve only just finished the first one which I started 5 days ago, so wine consumption is very reasonable. Strange how it seemed higher when Mel was here!
The rest of the days scenery was not especially inspiring, rolling farm land and pine forests, but typically French nonetheless. It’s amazing how much difference the Pyrenees make to the climate and therefore the landscape. Only a few miles by road and you are, quite literally, in a whole different country.
Fortunately for me, the weather does seem to have come with me. After leaving the van in the sunshine at the supermarket it got so warm that I could comfortably drive with the window wound down – something I don’t recall us doing so far on this trip.
By mid-afternoon I reached the town of Aiguillon at the foot of the Lot Valley, and started heading upstream towards Cahors. Nothing special at the moment. The French habit of mono-cropping extends here, with the speciality being prunes. So that should keep me regular!
I pulled in at the village of Temple-sur-Lot, and with plenty of sunshine left in the afternoon I got the bike out and went for a 20 mile ride, half following the river upstream, then crossing over and heading inland into some hills before dropping back down into the village. There is something about the landscape here, particularly in those hills that reminded me of the Brendon Hills of home.
I realise that I’m at risk of making too swift a progress if I’m not careful. I have time for some pottering about tomorrow, so plan to explore Cahors, then east from there into the Valle de Lot and Valle de Célé which are meant to be spectacular gorges. If I’m in the mood for it, I may have to cycle them to appreciate them properly. Depending on time, I’m planning on investigating some of the lovely medieval towns in the area such as Sarlat and Rocamadour, and also see if any of the Paleolithic caves are taking visitors, this region being renowned for the earliest evidence of human habitation in Europe. Then I think a gastronomic experience in Périgueux may well be on the cards!