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In April I spent 18 days doing a solo self supported bicycle tour in southern France. I took the train from Barcelona across the French border to Narbonne where I started my own personal Tour de France. The first leg of the tour followed the Canal du Midi which runs from the Mediterranean coast to Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast as far as Toulouse.

The Canal du Midi is a popular route for pleasure boaters, many cruising in rented canal boats.

The bridge at Roubia

Much of the tow path that followed the canal's route in the province of Roussillon turned out to be single track, with few other people on it. Often I'd ride for over an hour without seeing anybody else.

A pair of Otters emerged at dusk as I was taking a break in Trebes.

 Due to a strong headwind keeping me in my lowest gears all day it was almost dark by the time I reached the city of Carcassonne with its beautifully preserved Medieval City pearched on a hilltop above the more modern city below. I spent two nights in Carcassonne. Here I am at the city wall.

Here is one of the many locks along the Canal du Midi's 150 miles. The canal was built in the 17th century.

This is a farm house where I rented a Gite' (room)  for 13 euros near Castelnaudary.

Canal barges where canal dwellers live on the outskirts of Toulouse.

I took the train from Toulouse to Cahors
This is the Medieval bridge at Cahors.

Well worn steps to some of the sentry posts on the bridge (The Pont Valentre').

The next day's route climbed up to the town of Rocamadour, with its Chateau perched on the cliffs above the Medieval village. I brought some goat cheese from Rocamadour home with me.

A  Chateau near Blanzaguet.

Cingle du Montfort and its Chateau on the Dordogne River.

La Roque Gageac and another Chateau at the far end of the town.

The cliffs above La Roque Gageac.

 

An after ride snack with wine and cheese at my B&B in Sarlat la Canada.

In Sarlat la Canada

The next day I rode to a hilly route to Montignac on the Vezere River.

The next day I passed this Chateau downstream from Montignac as I rode down the Vezere River valley.

The Chateau at the small village of Thonac.

Roc de St. Christopher is a cliff dwelling that was first inhabited by Neanderthal Man 55,000 years ago, then by Cro-Magnon Man, then by modern Homo-Sapiens, eventually becoming a Medieval village.  

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More Roc de St. Christopher

One of the many farms in the region that raise Geese for Foie Gras.

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Les Eyzies de-Tayac-Sireull or Les Eyzies for short is a town I used as a base for doing day trips over the next 5 days.

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The bike path into town mimics the graceful arches of the 19th century bridge.

The Vezere River is covered in white flowers from the river's aquatic plants in April. Its a popular canoe route. I can see why.

My Easter lunch spot in Limeuil where the Vezere joins the Dordogne.

Later during that day trip I came across this Easter bike race in Tremolat.

I rode to Chateau du Commarque during another day trip, where I was caught in a downpour during a sudden thunderstorm.

This is the 13th century chapel where I took refuge from the storm and had a lunch.

Town of  Beynac-et-Cazenac, with its imposing Chateau out of sight on the cliffs above.

Castelnaud la-Chaple where I stayed for two nights.

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Dawn in Castelnaud.

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More Castelnaud.

An archway in Castelnaud with a date of 1769 visible above the weathered doors.

Stained glass window in the church in Castelnaud.

Castelnaud was an English fortress during the 100 Years War between England and France when the Dordogne River was the front line. This is the view from the English Castle at Castelnaud of the French Chateau at Beynac-et-Cazenac across the Dordogne River.

Looking up the Dordogne valley with my campground visible in the uppers right hand corner. The weather for the ride was unusually warm and dry for April. Nearly ideal weather for bicycling. In this photo you can see how low the river is.

Who knew bloggers have our own Patron Saint?

My arrival in Paris with Notre Dame Cathedral in the background.

I took a high speed train from Paris to Amsterdam after a weekend in Paris. I plan to follow this up with another diary on the portion of my trip in Benelux.

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Tue May 17, 2011 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town, Pink Clubhouse, Global Expats, Velocipede Vanguard, and DKos Travel Board.

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