2015-07-20 Capestang – Frontignan

I must have crossed over the Canal du Midi 6 times today and at nearly every crossing, there was a boat going past. Some locks on the canal have over 10,000 boat movements per year and the canal is probably as busy now than at any time since it opened in 1681.

20150720_Strava_1Total today 75 km. Total so far – 1420 km. It wasn’t the terrain today that caused me trouble today, it was the heat. It was over 30 degrees all day, which was just too much to cope with when I was still fatigued from the long cycle the day before.

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6 litres of water needed today. The campsite in Capestang was excellent, with lots of showers, toilets and washing facilities. There was nowhere to charge a phone so I had to set up the solar panel. With the heatwave back with a bang, I made sure to fill every bottle I had with water before I left.

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Fire station in Capestang. I promised my nephew, Mike, lots of photos of fire-stations but in France, most fire stations have dark doors and you can’t see inside. But here in Capestang, the fire station doors were open so I was able to get a good shot.

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Saint Nazaire church and the Pont Vieux bridge across the river Orb in Beziers. The first town on today’s route was Beziers, which is famous for the Massacre of Beziers in July 1209 when over 20,000 inhabitants in the town were killed by Crusader troops, mostly from the north of France. Pope Innocent III had declared a crusade to eliminate Catharism in the Languedoc and the leader of the Crusader army, Arnaud Almaric, the Abbot of Citeaux, allegedly told his troops to “Kill them all. God will know His own”.

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Arenes de Beziers bullfighting arena. Beziers is also famous for the Feria de Beziers bull-fight festival, in the Arenes de Beziers, which is the biggest bull-fighting arena in France. Just like in Spain, the bulls are killed during the Feria, unlike further east in the Camargue where the bulls are spared.

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Cameron pump factory in Beziers. The biggest employer in Beziers is Cameron, who make pumps and valves for the oil industry. They have 2 factories in Beziers on each side of the Canal du Midi and use this lift-bridge to move parts between their factories by rail. Cameron were bought by Schlumberger for $15B in August 2015, though what effect this merger will have on their French factory is unknown yet.

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Traffic jam near Agde. So many people were heading to the Med, that cars were backed up for about 5 km.

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24-7 McDonald’s restaurant in Agde. Just past Agde, I stopped off at a McDonald’s for only the second time on the Tour de Travoy. In France, when a shop or cafe is open round the clock, they don’t say it is open 24/7; instead they say it is open 24/24 and 7j/7 (j for jour).

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Heatstroke at McDonald’s in Agde. It might not look like much of a meal but like the grain of rice that tips the scales, the food was too much for me to cope with. The food was fine and I never felt sick but all of a sudden, I started sweating buckets. My body simply couldn’t cope with trying to digest the meal and deal with the heat at the same time and went into meltdown. For 2 hours, I sat at McDonalds unable to move as I simply had no energy.

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It took me over 3 hours to cycle 30 km from Agde to Frontignan. I then decided I would try and go to the nearest campsite and try and get some rest. But a lot of campsites in Agde are only for people staying in mobile homes and don’t allow tents, so I decided to go along the coast to Sete and try there.

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Plage des Quilles beach between Agde and Sete.  By the time I made it to the Med, I could feel the temperature in my stomach rising and I had to stop for a feed of ice-cream to get my core temperature to go down.

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Cycle path for 10 km along the Med. The cycle path between Agde and Sete along the Med is probably the most famous cycle path in all of France and it was great to get away from the traffic when I was feeling so bad.

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Sete harbour. You can get a ferry from Sete to Tangier in Morocco. The crossing takes at least 40 hours and is twice a week in the summer. However, tickets are dear and it can cost over €150 for a foot passenger and €800 for a car.

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Bad day campsite near Gardiole. However, the road out of Sete was very busy and hilly and the combination of traffic and heat almost caused me to collapse again. Somehow, I managed to drag myself to the New Day campsite near Gardiole. It had taken me 4 hours to travel 30 km, which would normally take only 2. As if my day wasn’t bad enough, I was then charged €26 for a night’s stay. Any other day, I would have gone to another campsite, but I was so exhausted I agreed to pay just to get some rest.

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