After a nice, but tourist dodging rest day in Carcassonne it was time to get back on the road. It took a while to get through the suburbs of Carcassonne, as the path followed the canal. I stopped for a few minutes to watch the boats go through the locks before continuing on through the village of Conques sur Orbiel, which was nice but very quiet.
There were several other small hamlets during the day, including Salleles Cabardes, Marmonieres and Trassanel. I stopped in Trassanel for a short time to eat a bit and top up my water, while I enjoyed watching the big butterflies shuffle for flower space.
I had initially planned to go a few kilometers past Trassanel to camp, but was feeling good and went on to Pradelles Cabardes. I had a coffee break and a quick assessment of daylight, and decided to go over the mountain before camping. It was a long day, but I was feeling good after the rest day and didn’t mind making a dent in the following day’s walk.
After camping, I descended through some forest and hillside farms before completing this seemingly endless set of switchbacks that funneled down the embankment to the paved road that would lead into the somewhat large town of Mazamet. Along the paved road was the beautiful village of Hautpoul perched on the hill high above.
This was a good distraction from the twisty road and its speedy traffic. The path finally moved away from the road to a trail that intercepted one of the long streets leading to the center of Mazamet along the river bank. When I entered the main square of Mazamet, I didn’t really see any people and all shops we’re closed. I quickly discovered that I had to go around the corner from the square, were some cafes and bars were open despite the midday closure period. Later that evening, it was so busy in the area that finding a seat/table anywhere was difficult. There was also an evening farmer’s market going on, which made for a nice stroll. Later that night, a bat found its way into my room through an open window. It flew around the room for a half hour or so before it eventually went out through the window. I like bats, so no drama.
It was quite cloudy and foggy the next day, and there were supposed to be showers in the afternoon. After leaving the Mazamet area, there were amazing tracts of forests were the trees were so thick that the road ahead appeared dark. The fog made it a bit creepy, but the forests were outstanding. This part of the walk followed one of the Camino paths, and several people inquired about whether I was a pilgrim. It was also marked by frequent iron or stone crosses, adourned with the common pilgrimage symbol of the shell.
I went through the sleepy hamlets of Le Vintrou and Le Rialet before arriving in the medieval village of Angles. Angles actually had a store, bakery and pub/cafe, which made a nice hangout spot until it was time to walk a bit further and camp for the evening.
The weather was better the next day, and the beautiful forest walking continued for a while. There were nice, shaded forest roads that seemed to be popular with older men that would take their dog and park somewhere in the hills before walking around in the forests. I ran into several people and tried to speak with them. The forest roads ultimately gave way to a paved road that deposited me at the foot of Salvatet sur Agout, a pretty and old town on a hill. It was big enough to have bakeries, a cafe, a market and water fountain, so it was a nice stop before starting the last stretch of the day.
The last 9km of the day wound through green hills and some hilltop farms before ending in the village of Fraisse sur Agout, where I stayed at a hotel+restaurant. Fraisse sur Agout was small but picturesque. It is part of the “villages fleuri”, which are villages that are deamed to be picturesque and floral by the government. Everyone had flowers or gardens of some sort, and they took great pride in caring for them.
After leaving Fraisse sur Agout, it was a long day of walking with only two hamlets along the route. First was Salvergues followed by Fagairolles at the end of the day. The rest of the day was filled with lots of dirt road walking through various managed forests. Some land was forest and wildlife reserve, while other parts were used for timber harvesting. It was nice walking but also a bit monotonous. I stopped in Fagairolles long enough to fill up water and quickly observe the locals playing a spirited game of petanque.
I walked a few kilometers further and called it a day, finding a decent place to camp. A good day, but not terribly scenic.
While some parts from Carcassonne to Fagairolles were on the GR 36, I have moved on to the GR 71 and GR 653 for the time being.
Walking days: 84
Total distance walked: 2398km (1490mi)