I slept incredibly well on the airbed again and wake up just before dawn. I was lying there for a while and thought about the day ahead which is an absolute luxury for me, I normally get woken up ungracefully by my two alarms and not having to endure that is marvellous. I broke camp, showered and got ready then packed the bike, somehow everything seemed to fit in better and have more space than before, no idea why and after paying up at the reception off I went. When I stopped about 100 yards down the road to set up the navigator and have a departure ciggie a French guy came up and we got chatting about this bike, various Guzzi’s, his bikes all in my broken French but bikes/motorcycles are always a great barrier breaker both for the cognoscenti and for those who don´t ride but understand the symbolism. After that I got going, I had decided to set “Conques” as destination and chose the setting “curvy roads”. I had the general idea that I would roll for a while and stop at the next café for an urgently needed espresso or café au lait. As it happened the route was a sensation, anywhere else the road would have been jam-busted with bikes and whatnot but, here in central France, not a soul. The most incredible and I say incredible not in the Trumpian sense but really phenomenally, amazingly, gob-smackingly incredible, words fail me, the tarmac was reasonably but not other-worldly smooth, not stop corners, ups and downs, opening and closing apexes, stunning views, beautiful villages en route, just marvellous. Anyway, after passing numerous cafes which just didn’t do it for me and about two hours later, I got to Le Pont-de-Montvert. Pictures below, it is a tremendous place, it was very French in a most endearing way, “uniquement”. Had a good lunch to keep body and soul together. I decided to press on and make it to Conques, was about 3 hrs after lunch on mini-roads which were so small that I was teetering about between cow-pats and tears and drops in the single-track roads, fun stuff on the wallowing beast of my overladen Tiger but we managed it and finally got to rather more civilised roads and finally to Conques.
On the way I took in the magnificent Gorge du Tarn (photos above).
Conques is one of the three main pilgrimage places in the Midi-Pyrenees region, the other two being Lourdes and Rocamadour. It has been a pilgrimage place for the best part of a thousand years and, fortunately, has remained very well preserved form modernity. It is one of those places with a special feel to it and, in some ways, I could have spent a lot more time there but I didn’t.
First of all, set up camp at the Beau Rivage camping ground down by the river and roman bridge.
I had chatted with the very nice lady who runs the place at reception and booked myself in for some sort of evening meal. She is a real gem, her son (I assume) was, however, not at his best when I was there and dampened the spirits somewhat. Anyway, whilst settling down to dinner I got chatting with Wolfgang and after we had chatted for a while it transpired that he had walked all the way from Nuremburg in Bavaria to Conques as part of one of the many St James´s ways eventually heading for Santiago de Compostela. Thus far, 1700kms, respect that man! After finishing dinner and chatting we decided to go up into Conques and listen to an organ concert at the church there, musically it was just about bearable (I am a bit choosy with music), the church, however, is well worth a visit as is Conques anyway.
So after this we repaired to the campsite, I retrieved my laptop which I’d forgotten on the restaurant terrace and was still there where I’d left it. It had been a most interesting chat with Wolfgang and I was glad to have met him.