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Free route description for 500km cycling tour of mountainous south-central France

Featuring bit of the Cévennes, part of the volcanoes of the Auvergne; the departments of Lozère, Ardèche, Cantal, Lot, Aveyron, and Tarn; and the regions of Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, and Midi-Pyrénées.

Posted by Mr Baldie on Friday April 6th 2012. 3 comments

Aire de Baldy, discovered at last near Bagnac-sur-Célè. It would have been a lot easier to find if the French didn't drop their Hs. All photos © Mr Baldie. More.

This was designed for easy train access from Barcelona without having to dismantle and pack the bike - eg midweek 06:16 regional to Portbou, 09:39 TER to Nîmes, 12:56 TER to Alès, cycle 500km to Albi, 09:04/09:50 TER to Toulouse, 11:54 TER to Narbonne, 13:53 TER to Portbou, 15:59 regional to Barcelona. Altitude ranges from ca. 150m to ca. 1450, and non-brass monkeys will need to take care with winter cold on some of the higher bits. Most of the roads are small, well-engineered, and low in traffic, with often stunningly beautiful views to which the photos below completely fail to do justice. There are reasonably frequent bars and shops, and along considerable stretches there are still (infrequent) trains to help you out if you or your bike breaks down. If you can't manage it all in one day :) you should be able to figure out accommodation - there's plenty out of season. Here's the approximate route:


View larger map

Now here's a list of settlements visited, which should enable reconstruction if Google Maps disappears before this website or if you refuse to submit to the monster:

  1. Alès
  2. La Grand Combe (mine museum)
  3. Portes
  4. Chamborigaud
  5. Génolhac
  6. Concoules
  7. Villefort
  8. very beautiful valley (check the path on the other side) leading to Pied-de-Borne
  9. steep climb to and beyond Planchamp
  10. hilltop moorland and forest leading to La Bastide-Puylaurent
  11. Luc
  12. Langogne (brilliant centre)
  13. Briges
  14. Laval-Atger
  15. Grandrieu (splendid little church, atmospheric restaurant (also hotel) Laures, bar Viviane, Hotel Daudet, whose amiable boss, like an extraordinary number of people, speaks excellent Spanish)
  16. climb through farmland, moor and forest to Baraque des Bouviers at ca. 1400m
  17. gorgeous descent (larks, red kites) thru Saint-Denis-en-Margeride (bar)
  18. Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole (nice barmaid in the bar behind the apse of the beastly Romanesque church)
  19. Le Malzieu-Ville
  20. slow climb through lovely countryside & Saint-Léger-du-Malzieu
  21. Lorcières
  22. Combechalde
  23. Le Pirou
  24. Saint-Michel
  25. Saint-Georges
  26. Saint-Flour
  27. Murat
  28. fairly heavy (ski-)traffic up to the col (you can't go through the tunnel so have to climb a good bit more) and then very fast (50 km/h) but busy descent to Aurillac
  29. Roannes-Saint-Mary (couple of excellent bars)
  30. Marcolès (wannabe Disney "medieval" - don't stop)
  31. splendid, quiet, hilltop road via Saint-Antoine
  32. Saint-Constant
  33. Le Trioulou
  34. Bagnac-sur-Célè
  35. main road via Viazac to
  36. Figeac
  37. the aiguille on the road to Villefranche
  38. Tombebiau
  39. Capdenac
  40. Capdenac-Gare
  41. Saint-Julien d'Emparé
  42. up the gorgeous Diége valley
  43. Pomels
  44. Salles-Courbatiès
  45. Saint-Igest
  46. Bérals
  47. Villefranche-de-Rouergue
  48. Ordiget and the west bank of the river
  49. Najac
  50. Saint-André-de-Najac
  51. Montirat
  52. Mirandol
  53. Carmaux
  54. fairly unpleasant and dirty road to Albi.

Several alternatives:

  1. If you start from Nîmes, head across country from Brignon to les Vans then follow the river (via Gravières) to Pied-de-Borne
  2. From Pied-de-Borne, follow the river to La Bastide (D151) - more shade in summer, & very pretty
  3. Forget Albi and from Najac head south via Laguépie to Cordes-sur-Ciel, where the Toulouse plateau begins & there's a TER to the metropolis

And here finally are some photos, most pretty bad and with some quite large gaps. I'll try to add captions this weekend:

France Spring 2012
Cerbère station
Cerbère station
Cerbère station
Cerbère station
Cerbère station
Cerbère station
Cerbère station
Cerbère station
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
TER to Nîmes
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
Mining & trades museum, Grand Combe
château de Portes
château de Portes
château de Portes
château de Portes
château de Portes
château de Portes
château de Portes
château de Portes
French cock, Portes
French cock, Portes
French cock, Portes
French cock, Portes
Portes
Portes
Village called Can of Beer. Nothing on sale. Fail.
Village called Can of Beer. Nothing on sale. Fail.
church Chamborigaud
church Chamborigaud
church Chamborigaud
church Chamborigaud
Mont Lozère
Mont Lozère
Génolhac
Génolhac
Concoules
Concoules
Concoules
Concoules
Concoules
Concoules
Villefort
Villefort
valley to Pied-de-Borne
valley to Pied-de-Borne
valley to Pied-de-Borne
valley to Pied-de-Borne
valley to Pied-de-Borne
valley to Pied-de-Borne
Noah's Ark, above Planchamp at ca. 1000m
Noah's Ark, above Planchamp at ca. 1000m
Beyssac across the barranco from above Planchamp
Beyssac across the barranco from above Planchamp
loadsa sweet chestnuts on the terraced hillsides
loadsa sweet chestnuts on the terraced hillsides
view from above Planchamp towards les Vans
view from above Planchamp towards les Vans
Luc church with nifty staircase to belltower
Luc church with nifty staircase to belltower
Luc
Luc
Luc
Luc
micro cheese factory flushing tanks
micro cheese factory flushing tanks
railway bridge cross the Allier
railway bridge cross the Allier
Langogne church - Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais
Langogne church - Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais
tough titty, Langogne church
tough titty, Langogne church
Langogne church organ with bearded man trying to escape
Langogne church organ with bearded man trying to escape
whatsisname's convent
whatsisname's convent
house in Langogne walls
house in Langogne walls
Langogne, C17th chapel of the white penitents, 1793 comité de surveillance révolutionnaire
Langogne, C17th chapel of the white penitents, 1793 comité de surveillance révolutionnaire
Langogne factory, old commercial hotel, station
Langogne factory, old commercial hotel, station
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Jaime Bond
Réservoir de Jaime Bond
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
Réservoir de Naussac
nice small meltwater channel
nice small meltwater channel
Hotel in Laval-Atger
Hotel in Laval-Atger
cross with ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
cross with ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
cross with ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
cross with ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
cross with ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
cross with ex votos, chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
chapelle Saint Méen, Laval-Atger
Grandrieu
Grandrieu
Grandrieu
Grandrieu
Saint-Paul-le-Froid
Saint-Paul-le-Froid
high moor
high moor
snow! there was much more, but twixt traffic and freezing hands didn't get round to photoing it
snow! there was much more, but twixt traffic and freezing hands didn't get round to photoing it
col baraque des bouviers
col baraque des bouviers
col baraque des bouviers
col baraque des bouviers
classic herringbone field irrigation
classic herringbone field irrigation
pillory/market Le Malzieu-Ville
pillory/market Le Malzieu-Ville
Le Malzieu-Ville
Le Malzieu-Ville
refreshing but rare decadence @ Le Malzieu-Ville
refreshing but rare decadence @ Le Malzieu-Ville
refreshing but rare decadence @ Le Malzieu-Ville
refreshing but rare decadence @ Le Malzieu-Ville
another failed postcard shot @ Le Malzieu-Ville
another failed postcard shot @ Le Malzieu-Ville
screwed-up yogi/failed auto-heart surgery?
screwed-up yogi/failed auto-heart surgery?
cf N Germany, but @ Le Malzieu-Ville
cf N Germany, but @ Le Malzieu-Ville
Le Malzieu-Ville
Le Malzieu-Ville
blue lady Le Malzieu-Ville
blue lady Le Malzieu-Ville
imprisoned beast Le Malzieu-Ville
imprisoned beast Le Malzieu-Ville
imprisoned beast Le Malzieu-Ville
imprisoned beast Le Malzieu-Ville
lizard knocker  Le Malzieu-Ville
lizard knocker Le Malzieu-Ville
ex-shop window Le Malzieu-Ville
ex-shop window Le Malzieu-Ville
gate Le Malzieu-Ville
gate Le Malzieu-Ville
ceramic shop Le Malzieu-Ville
ceramic shop Le Malzieu-Ville
ceramic shop Le Malzieu-Ville
ceramic shop Le Malzieu-Ville
town walls Le Malzieu-Ville
town walls Le Malzieu-Ville
town walls Le Malzieu-Ville
town walls Le Malzieu-Ville
granite fenceposts
granite fenceposts
sign Lorcières
sign Lorcières
roadside orchids
roadside orchids
roadside orchids
roadside orchids
er
er
le Pirou + volcanoes
le Pirou + volcanoes
roof probs le Pirou
roof probs le Pirou
le Pirou
le Pirou
le Pirou
le Pirou
standard 2 storey barn, le Pirou
standard 2 storey barn, le Pirou
S Michel, S Flour
S Michel, S Flour
S Flour lower town
S Flour lower town
S Flour upper town
S Flour upper town
squatters S Flour
squatters S Flour
ultimate insurance co
ultimate insurance co
S Flour gate
S Flour gate
S Flour view N/E
S Flour view N/E
turn of century façade S Flour
turn of century façade S Flour
provincial press - La Montagne - Saint-Flour
provincial press - La Montagne - Saint-Flour
50% real bells, S Flour - Murat
50% real bells, S Flour - Murat
sheepway
sheepway
Cantal volcanoes
Cantal volcanoes
Murat
Murat
Murat
Murat
Murat
Murat
square Aurillac
square Aurillac
sheep way
sheep way
greenhouse graves @ Lot
greenhouse graves @ Lot
greenhouse graves @ Lot
greenhouse graves @ Lot
greenhouse graves @ Lot
greenhouse graves @ Lot
view back towards Cantal
view back towards Cantal
blackthorn in flower
blackthorn in flower
ruined house
ruined house
mission cross 1951
mission cross 1951
disco for sale, Saint-Constant
disco for sale, Saint-Constant
farm, Maynard, before Bagnac
farm, Maynard, before Bagnac
farmhouse + dovecote, Maynard, before Bagnac
farmhouse + dovecote, Maynard, before Bagnac
Aire de Baldy
Aire de Baldy
Figeac
Figeac
looking for lodgings above Figeac
looking for lodgings above Figeac
above Figeac
above Figeac
Diége valley
Diége valley
railway bridge in Diége valley
railway bridge in Diége valley
Najac
Najac
Najac
Najac
mimosa, Najac
mimosa, Najac
Najac
Najac
Najac
Najac
Lagarde Viaur
Lagarde Viaur
mill at Moulins du Viaur
mill at Moulins du Viaur
"beach" at Moulins du Viaur
"beach" at Moulins du Viaur
Petit Journal, 5 millions de lecteurs, Montirat
Petit Journal, 5 millions de lecteurs, Montirat
Café des Touristes, les Bosses, Montirat
Café des Touristes, les Bosses, Montirat
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
bikes in garden next to Almayrac church
Dance hall Le Rex at Carmaux, now the agricultural coop
Dance hall Le Rex at Carmaux, now the agricultural coop
Dance hall Le Rex at Carmaux, now the agricultural coop
Dance hall Le Rex at Carmaux, now the agricultural coop
kitsch bike monument Carmaux
kitsch bike monument Carmaux
electricity plant Arthès
electricity plant Arthès
foundry Arthès
foundry Arthès
foundry Arthès
foundry Arthès
foundry Arthès
foundry Arthès
     



There, didn't mention Robert Louis Stevenson or donkeys once.

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  1. [...] His glory forever I’ll share." Yes, but wouldn't it be helpful if more wayside crosses, like this one, indicated the path to one's home far [...]

  2. [...] I've done the odd chunk of prose translation from southern French dialects to English, but things would no doubt improve if I got out a bit more & got my left ear back. Can I also plead mental debilitation caused by previous pedalling up some sharp inclines? [...]

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