Tuesday September 6; Stage 9
Tarascon to Ax les Thermes
We were intending a rest day here at Tarason, but the site doesn’t seem good enough so on we go to Ax les Thermes. Again we start early and today we are on very small roads which we love. First a steep ascent through fields while it is still cold, then we rise up to patches of sunlight through trees and stand a while in the warmth. A beautiful corniche road with views of the valley and the mountains on small roads, and an interesting cable car carrying cement in buckets. This road takes us all the way to Bestiac, where at an old church in the village with no one moving in hot sun we eat lunch and re-apply suncream. From here a lovely road takes us up the top of the valley where you might expect only at footpath to be. If you look up at the hill you see only trees and don’t realise there is a road there. We take photos of lots of lovely barns here; East Ariege seems lovely. A steep descent from quite close to the col de Marmor brings us on to the N road to Axles Thermes, where it is very hot. We lunch opposite the Baths and go to the tourist info where soon the others join us. The campsite is a mile down the N road, very big and full of chalets, caravans et cetera but its saving grace is a wooded rocky knoll with tiny ledges for small tents. It’s lovely up there within sight and sound of the river. There is a pool too, where we go after pitching and showering. We wanted to go for a ride up the wolf valley but before that I had to get my camera battery recharged and do some work e-mails so in the end Jim went alone and did my jobs and had a beer. Later we walked with Jane and Richard along the river to eat and came back in the wobbling light of our head torches.