Day 8 - Mars (Vivarais, Languedoc) to Plaisance du Touch (Comté de Toulouse)

Through the Gorges du Tarn, Viaduc de Millau, plateau albigeois - 347 miles

Not having to pack a tent allows me to leave earlier than usual, and I cross the beautiful region of Ardèche and the Cévennes National Park in good time to reach the first area that I actually already visited previously: the Gorges du Tarn.

I have fond memories of that area from 15 years ago, and I must say I am not disappointed.

The village of Saint-Énimie is still the cutest village I've ever seen (even though it looks a little smaller than in my pedestrian memories).

And the road is still as impressive, cutting through the mountain and overlooking the river in a an almost acrobatic fashion. Riding along the river is pure pleasure.

I make a point to check out an engineering marvel, the Viaduc de Millau. Standing underneath, one is awed by the design and the tour de force required to build this bridge.

I had promised to reach Toulouse not too late (around 6 pm) and I am not going to be able to hold up to that promise. I race through the plateau albigeois (the Cathar country) at about 80 mph, which is a pity because the landscape looked really nice.

I then proceed to the highway, which I ride at over 110 mph. In spite of this rush, I reach Plaisance-du-Touch (pronounced "toosh", not "tutch"!) two hours late. I have the most wonderful dinner with my hosts -- we enjok duck heart kebabs, exquisite wine -- what a great way to top a most excellent riding day. And I get to sleep in a bed, too!