October 19, 2010

17| Tarn Gorge

Le Rozier provided brioche and coffee, but not a meal, it was not yet lunchtime, so nothing was available. I bought food from the épicerie, where I (finally) realized I better stock up, so I bought crackers, oranges, bananas, chocolate as well as the usual cheese and sausage. Bread came from the bakery up the street; it was essentially an open shop window, with breads in different bins and with no apparent depth, beyond the space needed for someone to stand; the bread tasted very good. Above Le Rozier I started up the 50-km long Gorges du Tarn, where the cliffs and rock faces got more glorious mile by mile.
The rocky outcroppings and cliffs were multi-colored, ochre, sienna, brown, earth-toned colors of traditional pigments, with fantastic shapes rising up out of rocky hillsides, and  cliffs that rose 1500 feet above me. Below me, the river was wide, clear, shallow and fast. There were several short, easy, non-intimidating tunnels, and the riding never felt difficult. (The difference some food makes!)

I lunched on a sandy small beach next to the Tarn, where vacationers in a flat boat passed by on their way downriver. The boat looked as if it might be derived from a traditional design, but I don’t know the history. There are many hiking trails in the area, and I saw more hikers than cyclists, some with daypacks, others with ropes and climbing equipment, others with spelunking gear.  

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