A Week In Limoux France

A Week In Limoux France

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by Whitney Allison

We're kicking off our 2017 racing campaign this year in Europe. Ever thoughtful director, Mary Zider, started off the week with a week in Limoux, France, so that we could get in some great training in super weather, adjust to the time zone, and prepare for racing. Chris Georgas generously hosted us in one of his apartments and has shown us some of the most beautiful routes I’ve ever been on on a bike and shared his precious town of Limoux with us.

Quaint town of Limoux. This bridge goes over a river that bisects the village of ~5000 people.

Our first full day, Chris took us on an afternoon spin around the area. There are vineyards everywhere! The area is a huge wine region and also home to the birthplace of sparkling wine(!). Photo 2: tour guide Chris pointed out the Bugarsch Mountain which is full of legends and is known for mystical tales dating back to the days of the Knights Templar. Note the vineyards in the background.

Dinner out that evening meant I got my first experience trying cassoulet, a stew of white beans, duck, and sausage. It was incredibly simple, rich, and full of flavor. I have never had anything like it! We did also get to try the famous sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux.

Friday was the weekly farmer’s market which twisted through old market buildings…everything from whole rabbits to dried fruits to purple artichokes. I love the simplicity of the foods here. Less processed is so much better for you! Photo 3 shows a small portion of the goods.

We continued our morning with a really gorgeous 3 hour ride. The climbs here are generally nice and gradual and the descents are sweeping, fast, and fun.

Saturday was another incredible ride. I can’t get over how great the riding is in views, quality of roads, and terrain.

We so happen to be here during Carnival, which is every weekend, three times a day for 10 weeks. The festival dates back to 1604 and is conducted in Occitan, the original language of the area.

There is music, customs, and an elaborate performance each time and each performance is different. The white you see in Photo 4 is paper confetti, representing the flour used in original celebrations.

I definitely got put in a headlock while one of the performers rubbed a big handful of confetti into my hair! Worth it.

Sunday we did maybe the most scenic ride I've ever done on a bike, complete with a passing herd of sheep (Photo 5).

After we climbed for just about an hour and a half, we flew down an epic descent into a tiny village where Chris and Ande joined us. With the mountains, the scenery here changes in a moment, forming many microclimates, and unsurprisingly allows for a wide range of wines to be produced in these regions.

It was a huge surprise to then stumble upon the Gorges de Galamus, an incredible deep canyon with a very narrow road chiseled into the side of the mountain. It was by far the craziest road I've been on. Religious hermits lived in this area in a small center from the 12th century to 1870. While the photos can never quite do it justice, it was an incredible experience.

We then kept on and journeyed through to technically ride in the Pyrenees. We'll check that one off the bucket list!

I'm a huge nerd, so I've really enjoyed getting to learn a bit about the area we've been in and the history. For my first time in France, minus a couple days in Nice as a kid, it’s been such a good introduction. We're enjoying a final quiet day in Limoux before heading to Oudenaarde, Belgium tomorrow.