September 5, 2011

Pyrenees Tour: Bayonne to Berenx

Morning light brought grey skies, but no rain until after lunch. Leaving Bayonne was easy, though I kept a close eye on  the map, because it's so easy to get lost in the outer edges of even small cities. Tourist Bureaus and hotels often have good city maps, which are hugely helpful when finding your route out of town, and La Cote Basque had given me one.

Riding, today's keyword was flat. Flatter than anything we have in the Berkshires, MA, where I live. With almost no traffic. Like the very least travelled roads at home. On small roads. Smaller than any at home. The one pictured isn't a bike path, or a driveway, or even a chemin, but a regular road. It is Sunday morning and I happily shared the road with lots of other cyclists. Even a woman or two, which I have found rare outside of towns in France.

This little road led to the Ab. de Arthous, which was unfortunately closed. But the church pictured here, at nearby Sorde l'Abbaye was open, though some of the rest of the premises were closed for construction. It's hard to imagine how large an area and community the big medieval abbeys controlled. This one was Benedictine and stretched over a huge area in this part of France, such as a large county or small state might. It was built on the site of Roman ruins, directly on the banks of the River Pau, which was used for food and commerce. For many many centuries, it has been a stop on the pilgrimage route to St. Compostellae, and it is now a UNESCO world heritage site also. I always check for those sites before setting out on a trip, they are always worth a visit.

The church includes an area of original, restored, mosaic floor tiles, part of which is in this photo.

As I usually do, I find the   medieval sculptures, used to educate an illiterate population, both fascinating and sometimes scary.

The ride took me through several old bastides, towns dating from the middle ages. Later  I stopped in Berenx at Auberge du Relais, a Logis France hotel where dinner was delicious, my room perfect, the view serene. And quiet.



  1. Logis de France = can't go wrong!

  2. This is fun, reading your rides in almost real time.

  3. Just read all the entries since Greylock. Sounds glorious! Mostly I love to read about the food, but then you know that. Now I'm going back to the entries to read the comments. Thanks for keeping us posted!

  4. Thank you all! It is very very fun staying in touch. Gerry, I agree about Logis and that one was particularly good.


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