Carcassonne to Avignon ~ Through Languedoc and across the Rhone just like Hannibal, 2,200 years ago

July 2nd – 4th 2017 (Days 55 – 57) This week’s featured image shows the Rhone river not far from Avignon. Crossing the Rhone represented a milestone on this year’s Tour de Travoy as I was now in the foothills of the French Alps.  If this year’s tour works out as planned, it would be another 5 weeks before I crossed the Rhone again in Geneva at the end of the Route des Grandes Alpes. The Alps will be the most difficult section of this year’s tour so it is fitting that the Rhone should mark both the start and end of the Alpine section of my tour. I crossed the Rhone about 10 km north of Avignon not far from where Hannibal crossed the same river in 218 BC.  Most scholars accept that he crossed the river near Pont-Saint-Espirit but where he went then has been debated ever since.  Over the next few weeks, I am hoping to investigate some of the passes he may have used to cross the Alps  But first I had to get across the Rhone just like Hannibal did when he attacked Rome over 2,200 years ago.


Travoy leaving Camping Cite de Carcassonne.


Total distance cycled Sunday July 2nd from Carcassonne to Loupain – 125 km (includes 700 m of climbing). Total distance cycled so far on 2017 Tour de Travoy – 3,525 km. Strong wind today from the north-west, which was mostly a tailwind except for the last 10 km.


Cite de Carcassonne. I had seen the citadel before during the 2015 Tour de Travoy but was so impressed on seeing it for a second time. It is huge and the photos don’t do justice as to how big it is.


Clever mural on a building in Carcassonne.


One last look at the Cite de Carcassonne. There were a lot of tourists about this morning and no wonder why as the Cote fully deserves it’s World Heritage status.


Le Boat boatyard in Trebes


Sign for the Herault region of France.


Chateau Cabezac.


Saint Nazaire cathedral in Beziers. It was in this cathedral that thousands of local people were massacred in 1209 after a local priest said “Kill them all, God will know his own”.


Bull-fighting arena in Beziers. This arena was built in 1905 and is the largest bull-fighting arena in France with a capacity of over 13,000.  Every year, during August, a feria or bullfighting festival is held in this arena.


Bridge over the Herault river near Bessan.


Total distance cycled Monday June 3rd from Loupain to Sommieres – 65 km (includes 500 m of climbing). Total distance cycled so far on 2017 Tour de Travoy – 3,590 km. Cycled 65 km today without having any breakfast, just a cup of coffee a lady in a caravan next to my tent offered me in the morning. this is known as ketosis and all the top cyclists will regularly cycle 100 km or more without having anything to eat in an attempt to burn their reserves of fat in their body. I found the first 50 km OK but the last 15 km was tough as my stomach was rumbling so much.


Travoy leaving the Camping Municipal in Loupain.


Etang de Thau near Sete.


Car stuck in a ditch near Fabregues.


Colorful tram in Montpellier.


Montpellier train station. This is where I caught the train to Valence in 2015 but I later tweeted this photo saying that there would be no planes, trains or automobiles on this year’s Tour de Travoy if everything works out as planned.


Opera house in Montpellier.

Construction sites in Montpellier. Nowhere else in France have I came across as many construction sites. I must have passed about 20 building sites today, most of which were apartment blocks and all because of the extensive tram network in Montpellier.


Chateau in Castries.


Old Roman bridge in Sommieres.


Total distance cycled Tuesday June 04th from Sommieres to Avignon – 100 km (includes 1,100 m of climbing). Total distance cycled so far on 2017 Tour de Travoy – 3,690 km. I could have taken a more direct route to Avignon but Strava recommended  a less busy more northerly route. This was much hillier than the direct route but as it was similar to the route Hannibal took in approaching the Rhone, I didn’t mind the extra climbing too much.


Elaborate display in one pitch at Camping Le Garanel. One of the pitches beside my tent in Camping Le Garanel in Sommieries was elaborately decorated with flowers and there even was a small fountain.


Leaving Camping Municipal Le Garanel in Sommieres. The campsite in Sommieres is the only campsite I have ever came across where you have to key in a number to gain access. There is a large carpark beside the campsite so the campsite owner obviously installed the key access system to prevent any campervan occupants parked in the car-park using the showers and other facilities in the campsite without paying for them.


3 white horses in a field near Calvisson. I spotted many white horse today so this breed must be native to this region.


Advert for fibre internet from Bouygues Telecom for only €15 a month for a year and then €28 a month thereafter. High speed fibre internet in France is about half the price we pay in Ireland.


Roman arena in Nimes. This amphitheater was built in 70 AD and incredibly, almost 2,000 years later,it  is still used for concerts and bullfights.


Foreign legion troops in Nimes. These troops were obviously practicing for the Bastille Day parade in Nimes.


Elaborate carousel in Nimes.


The Vuelta d’Espana is due to start this year in Nimes on August the 17th. The race doesn’t start until Saturday August 19th but on Thursday August 17th, the teams will be introduced to the crowd in Nimes, probably in the Roman arena.


Pharmacy sign in Nimes showing a temperature of 30 degrees. Remember that is the temperature in the shade, outside in the sun, it was at least 35 degrees.


Abandoned radio station near Nimes. I guess with the internet nowadays fewer people are listening to FM radio stations.


Sunbathers on the River Gard near Remoulins. Remoulins is about 50 km from the sea but who needs a beach when you can sunbathe along a river.


Monster trucks parked up beside the road in Remoulins.


Tourist office at the Pont du Gard. In 1991, I had visited the Pont du Gard and actually walked across the aqueduct from one side of the river to the other. So I was looking forward to seeing it again. But the Pont de Gard is now a protected structure and you have to pay at this visitor centre which was built in 2000 to gain access to the site. It costs €8 for adults and €11 if you want to cross the aqueduct like I did for free in 1991. That year, I cycled from Barcelona to Florence and the Pont de Gard was by far the best sight I came across. But ever since the re-development to co-incide with the Millenium, bikes are not allowed into the area around the Pont du Gard, so I reluctantly decided against buying a ticket in case Travoy got robbed, so did not get to see the aqueduct again.


Vineyard in the Rhone Valley. Wine has been produced in the Rhone valley since Roman times and I passed dozens of vineyards on the road to Avignon.


Crossing the Rhone river near Pujaut, north of Avignon. The photo above only shows half the river Rhone as the river splits in 2 near the top of this picture. The D780 road across the right-hand side of the Rhone is located on top of a huge hydroelectric dam and there is a bridge on the left-hand side of the Rhone. It is almost 1 km from one side of the Rhone to the other though there is a small island in the middle of the river. It is some sight and easily the widest river i have ever crossed. Thanks to this bridge, My crossing of the Rhone was much easier than Hannibal’s as he had to construct hundreds of rafts to transport his army across the same river.


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