Saturday, 3 September 2011; Stage 6
Arreau to St Beat 72 km
Col de Peyresourde 1569
A very heavy storm in the night starts while we are at the restaurant with constant distant flickering and then intensifies while we lie in the tent, beating down on it until beneath us is a pool of water that feels like a waterbed. The pilgrim is lying across the Laundry sinks and the brown dog with enormous paws is still quivering on the tiled floor. Off we set early and silent again. The Col de Peyresourde is very pretty with cloud pieces hanging, old barns; and not too steep. The day is brightening as we go, sunny and warm. A wooden auberge is on the top with coffees and a friendly man. Soon Chris and John join us and we sit in the heat, then roll a bit down the other side and picnic in the meadow.
We can see the hairpins descending and Chris and John whizzing down. We also descend to treed rolling hills and St Beat, which is a bit of a dull town. The others were meaning to go over the border into Spain so we get to the site first after lunching in the only cafe with bikes parked against the river wall. The site is municipal with many static caravans, but right at the end is an open grass area by the river next to a longhaired birdwatcher. The town has many closed shops and hotels and a shut down sex shop.