We left the canal before Capestang and went up the viewpoint of Oppidum d’ Enserune – a hill which was occupied around 6BC to 1AD. Great views of the surrounding countryside, including fields shaped like spokes draining into a circular depression in the centre (called the swamp of Montady).
From here we moved onto Capestang by road (still roughly following the canal) – here they were clearing up from the morning market. And then we found our way to the small village of Montouliers, where we were hosted by Derek and Mary Williams. Derek is the ringing master of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul and Mary is also a Cathedral ringer. They spend part of every year in this French village – it was great to see some familiar faces and also to see their place in France.
Too bad the bells in the village church rung with an automatic mechanism!
Altogether we did around 70km.
- We spent a memorable evening with Derek and Mary. First they took us (by car) on a visit to the village of Minerve – a truly remarkable place. It stands on a ledge between two intersecting limestone river gorges. The city was a Cathar stronghold that was besieged by Simon de Montfort (under the authority of the Roman church) in 1210 – they shot at the place with catapults and prevented them from accessing their water supply. When the city fell, 180 Cathars were burnt alive by the Inquisition. Derek is very knowledgeable on the history of the whole area and being with him was like having a personal tour guide. Back home Mary made us a lovely home cooked meal, followed with strawberries and cheeses bought at a local market – we were very spoilt.
- The wire in my bike’s gear mechanism broke in the morning – so I had to ride the whole day with only 3 gears. Luckily there were not too many hills!