[ blog » 2023 » 09_South-West ]d05: Mont Aigoual ( by Philipp Gesang, location: Across the road from the Chateau de Brousse )


Since the next "big climb" was scheduled for today I planned to break camp early but I underestimated the dawn which only arrives at at seven and before that it’s just too damn dark out there. Rookie mistake but it didn’t change much.

From Saint-André-de-Valborgne I took one of the quieter albeit longer roads up the Aigoual. Last time around I climbed it from the Causse Noir in the glaring afternoon heat so today’s what-was-left-of-the-morning time ascent was a much calmer affair. After lavender land two days ago and the oaks of the garrigue yesterday, today was dominated by pine forests exuding their characteristic odor to complete the synesthetic experience.

The climb was long with some downhills interspersed and mostly on empty roads. There were some steeper sections but nothing too crazy, all in all a pleasant ride that I can only recommend. Except for the final three kilometers on that ridge where the wind ramped up and threw gusts at me that nearly made me come to a halt. A bit of a Norway moment up there in the tundra vegetation, it was almost bizarre it didn’t rain! At the summit sign near the observatory I discussed itineraries with a bike tourer from Montpellier; apparently some of the stuff I’ve planned qualifies as tough. Let’s see.

For the Causse

After the obligatory tour of the observatory tower I took the downhill via Dourbies which turned out to be even more stunning than the ascent, and from there I headed up to the Causse du Larzac. The high plateau was devoid of people, the only traces of animals were those small balls of sheep shit that covered the roads. Speaking of ...

A trip to France feels incomplete without visiting at least one village that lends its name to some exquisite type of cheese. For this trip I picked Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, home to the famous caverns where sheep milk matures into tasty Roquefort cheese. The entire village is located on the shady northern flank of a concave mountain range, shielded from the sun for most of the day. Which probably contributes to the thermal regulation in the caverns to ensure an optimal environment for the P. roqueforti fungus.

156 km distance covered despite 2300 of climbing – I’m slowly getting more confident that I might survive this vacation after all.

gps tracks

[view GPS data in mapbox]


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