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 Walk Across Europe

2009-05-27 - Trip 16 - Leg 128

France, Languedoc Roussillon_Pyrennees Orientales

Elne to Perpignan

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17.5 km today.
2.7 km/h average today.
6 hours 26 mins walking time.
70.3 km this trip.
2527.8 km from start.
0 metres minimum height.
65 metres maximum height.
252 metres ascent.
264 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Train, Bus.

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Pleasant lowland farm roads near Elne. CR1 cycle track towards Perpignan. Nice city centre. Very windy. Maybe unreliable altitude data.

SNCF, the French railways were due to restart work at 8 am after their strike. We were lucky because the 07:50 ran and we were able to start the walk reasonably early but later than hoped.

From Elne we headed west out of town, soon turning right off the main road onto a smaller and quieter route. The next left got us onto an almost unused lane serving farms and stables. This was very attractive and the walking was nice. The mistral was still blowing but there was some shelter. There was hardly a cloud in the sky.

As the morning progressed, there were fewer trees and the mistral became troublesome. It is harder work struggling into such a strong headwind. It was noisy too so conversation became tricky. This also applied to the animals. We saw a snake get run over by a car. I'm sure that under normal conditions, the snake would have heard/felt the car coming a mile away and would have hidden up.

We passed a large reservoir where quite large waves had built up. The tops were blowing off the waves. Soon after the reservoir, we joined the CR1. This is a French national cycle route which roughly follows the mediterranean coast. Instead of walking on the road, we used the parallel cycle path. We saw only one hardy cyclist battling into the wind. This route may prove useful later in our walk but we prefer mountain tracks and empty lanes if they can be found.

Perpignan was our destination. It is a well maintained and attractive town and our route was as nice as an urban walk can be. The only downside was an almost complete lack of courtesy by car drivers at pedestrian crossings. In Spain, we were constantly surprised by the majority of car drivers who would stop to let you cross. France needs to develop a militant pedestrian organisation. The nation seems to be good at organising strikes and protests so the attitudes of car drivers could soon be changed.

We took the train back to Cerbère and caught the 16:55 bus back towards Perpignan. This saved us an additional 40 minute walk and we were able to get some food shopping done too.

We got up at 4.40, a lie in after yesterday and were aiming to catch the train at 7.10. When we got to the station, we got our tickets and then saw that the first train out was the 7,50 to Paris for which you needed a reservation. We went to the cossacks which have moved since yesterday and approached the window. A strident voice said Fermé! Neil said the people were IT support. Anyway at 6.30 some one else went up and the guichet was now open. The same strident voice was now all smiles and very helpful. Our ticket was changed to one for the Paris traian, we paid 1.50 extra and got seat reservations. All we had to do now was wait until 7.50 for the train to go. This was no hardship because it was sitting at the platform and you could get in and settle down. We sat in a different seat where there was more room and this didn't matter because some Canadians with ADHD came on and sat in ours. The train was full of schol children who were going to be late with the perfect excuse.

I have a goose of garlic in my bumbag from last time - not so bad as the cheese I found last night. At Cérbère a traveller asks how he can get to the centre to buy some food. He uses German as a lingua franca. We explain but then he asks for money. He is carrying a stick which could be a white cane or could be a mountain climbing pole. I don't give him anything.

It was very windy in the night – probably the mistraal. All the trees lean fiecely one way and this must be why.

Today we see yellpow trogoodons, yellow lady's bedstarw more red dianthus (Neil misses these again). We see an amazing reservoir with a raised dam at Vilanova de Raò Villeneuve de Raho. here too we got a pizza. I had been craving a bacon butty and Neil said lardons would do. As the pizza had lardons this was pretty close. I expect the French are shocked by our behaviour because eating on the hoof even sitting down in a square is unusual. We also bought some slightly wholemeal bread. Beyond we saw two snakes in the road, one well and truly squashed and another run over but still writhing. We gave them a wide berth.

The walk begain on country lannes and roads. We passed a huge buikding miles from anywhere converted into gites. Later we used a cycle track to get us into Perpignan.We had thought of going home on the bus but were too late. Instead we had an ice cream to celebrate 2,500 miles and came on the train.We were able to pick up the bus in Cerbere and even do some shopping first.