From the Cevennes to the Atlantic, via Robert Louis Stevenson’s donkey trail, the Tarn Gorges, the Lot and Sauternes. About 710km. May 2011
By train up into the wilds of the Massif Central, as far as the highest stop on the Cévenol line, La Bastide Puylaurent; on our bikes from there over the Mont Lozère, down the Tarn as far as Albi, up to the Lot, across to Sauternes and finally in great heat to the bay of Arcachon.
Reaching the start took us ages – via a ferry from Dover and an overnight stay in Calais – but an early start from St Pancras could see you in La Bastide for supper (such as it might be). Once we got going, and over the hills, we loved this ride for its scenic and sightseeing variety: a glove factory, a Roquefort tasting, prehistoric cave paintings, Château d’Yquem, a bird reserve and a swim at the foot of the mighty Dune du Pilat, Europe’s biggest sandhill. Our hotel selection was good too: La Lozerette in Cocures, Le Sombral in St Cirq Lapopie and Le Resinier in Le Barp would be in our top ten.
View From the Cevennes to the Atlantic in a larger map
Ferries (Dover/Calais): P&O www.poferries.com
Canelle, Mousse-Cafe and friends on the Montagne du Goulet. It was a big hill for them too.
A pause at 1300m
Good off-piste grazing
an important watershed
Le Pont de Montvert
Morally superior bread. Florac
Ispagnac: a place of worship
not recommended, unless the bottle is plastic
St Chely de Tarn
Chateau de la Caze
Domaine de St Esteve, Millau. Good view of viaduct
Beaulieu en Rouergue
a swim in the Lot: slimy, but still good
St Cirq Lapopie
Prayssac: déesse ex machina
On the Canal du Midi
Arcachon, front de mer
Le Teich bird reserve. Spot the godwit