To assist me in my journey south, Liliane wrote down the names of just a few different villages in the direction I was heading. That short list made all the difference. You need to know some of the smaller villages you will pass through in the direction you are going. This information will serve you well anywhere in France that is not on the péage (toll) autoroutes.
However, nothing on the map or list prepared me for The Millau Bridge/Viaduct. Driving along and minding scenery and the road it was quite a surprise. I had no idea what I was about to experience until I looked off to the side of the bridge. Fortunately, I have never had a fear of heights and have driven across many bridges both in The U.S. and abroad.
Alaine and Liliane loaded me down with maps and gave me some direction for my trip back to La Cassaigne. Liliane made me sandwiches for the road, some fruit and a bottle of water. The car was filled with gas and I was off on my own. The hardest part of the trip was not stopping constantly to enjoy the delights of the countryside. If I had the resources, I might have embarked on an endless exploration of France.
Liliane’s directions made the drive a breeze. It was breathtaking to drive through Parc Nationale as the fog lifted, everything around me was white. The snow in the mountains was stunning as dapples of light broke through the treetops. The temptation to stop and take photos was powerful but I kept going. As I neared the dessert north of Montpellier I noticed the town of Roquefort. It would be interesting to see how that delicious cheese is made. Perhaps they have samples? Now that is a place I want to return to. The neighbors who were watching the cat in my absence were promised that I would return this day and I was not going to let them down. Roquefort will have to wait for another trip.
From Moulins to Carcassonne, they said it was about 600km. I arrived in Carcassonne around 4pm without any difficulty. From Carcassonne to La Cassaigne (about a 20minute drive) took me until about 7pm and that was after getting lost several times and finally called a neighbor to drive out and rescue me and bring me back to the house. I followed him really close. Bless Russ’s heart!
The house was freezing. These old stone houses will hold the heat for awhile. However, the fire had been out for several days and there has been no heat since then. I am so grateful that the house I was staying in had electric blankets on the beds.
For some time, I continued to have a problem with the roundabouts. It feels like they change the names on the signs right after I drive through one. It took me about 20 minutes to get to Carcassonne and about an hour to get back in the early weeks. There are so many beautiful vineyards, farmhouses… that I had difficulty finding landmarks and coming back in the evening or a heavy fog does not help the situation. Perhaps there was a link to the desire to remain in Carcassonne that I was not admitting to at the time? Or was it that I am, even now, so mesmerized by the landscape?
To date, I have made seven trips across the Millau Bridge and now have a healthy respect for the roundabouts and have no further difficulties with them.
I shall post more about the viaduct in the future. In the meantime check out the following: These days, I only get lost when I want to.