This trip took place just after the September 11th tragedy, just after an emergency landing of the Air Transat flight in the Azores (Air Transat is our carrier), and during a period when we were told that flights over the pole would have to take a more southerly route because the Russians were testing missiles there. It wasn't until after we got back that the Ukrainians managed to shoot down an Israeli airliner with missiles over the Black Sea.
Consequently we were not starting the trip in a relaxed state of mind. Also Kate was sick with something that gave her a sore throat and tired her.
|Ed Harrington drops us off at the airport. Kate is feeling
sick. This is the luggage we had to lug from Vancouver to Paris to Toulouse before we
could assemble the bikes and get pedalling.
When we got to Paris we found that my bike had been damaged. The front fork had been smashed, and the front wheel had been destroyed. We were on a timetable though and we had a car rented for the next day. We stayed in an airport hotel that is about 100m from the terminal. This is a good idea.
|This is the car. It is an Opel Zaphira, whatever that is. The bike boxes fit
easily in the back, and we headed out of Charles De Gaulle airport, around Paris,
to the Bordeaux autoroute.
Now, what we hadn't figured on is that the only fast roads in France are the autoroutes (top speed of 130kph) -- and they are toll roads. So we spent another C$75 in tolls by the time we got to Toulouse.
|This is our seedy hotel room in Toulouse. Actually is was clean and fairly
quiet, but we found that the "one-star" hotels in the South of France seem to
be of a little lower quality than the one-star hotels we encountered in the Loire.
We tended to use 2-stars as the trip wore on.
We had to stay in Toulouse for an extra day so that I could get my bike fixed.
Resting. Day 4 -- Toulouse
|Scenes of Toulouse. The above are from the basilica of St. Sernin. St. Sernin
is interesting because it is the only cathedral I have ever seen made of brick. Toulouse
is famous for its red brick buildings, and St. Sernin is certainly an interesting
To the left is a pretty typical French street scene. This gives you an idea of the width of the roads in the urban centres (as you get farther from the old urban cores and into new construction, roads widen). The posts along the sidewalk are to stop cars parking on the sidewalks, of course.
Onward to days 5 and 6