Day 9 - Plaisance du Touch (Comté de Toulouse, Languedoc) to Saint Bres (Languedoc)

Carcassone, Vallée de l'Orb - 251 miles

I take a very lazy start, leaving at noon. My wonderful hosts prepare lunch with duck breast accompanied by pan-fried sliced potatoes and salad -- the royal treatment. Who wouldn't stay longer for that?

I race to Carcassone, and do a quick run-around.

The town is not as big as some of the tourist brochures suggest, but it is incredibly cute nonetheless, in spite of the throngs of tourists (most motorcycles there are from nearby Spain).

I then race through Narbonne, and hit the small roads through wine country, because that's what motorcycle touring is supposed to be about (I mean small roads, *not* wine!).

After reaching Arles, I take the highway again and reach my uncle's house near Montpellier.

That's three days in a row that I'm sleeping in a bed -- I feel guilty about this excessive comfort. At least, it allows me to indulge in some good wine drinking on the patio, with excellent company.

In the picture above, there is a gendarme about half a mile away. He pulls me over -- at first I am bemused because for the first time today I am not speeding (amazing, isn't it?); I was actually fiddling with my photo camera and taking silly pictures. The gendarme points out that it is not very safe to hang off the side of the motorcycle like a monkey to take photographs (oops, was it obvious from so far away?) -- but his real gripe is that my headlight is not functioning. Ah yes, I'm going to have to replace that one. Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. It's Sunday, sir. My apologies, sir. Since I have no photo identification (lost passport and driver license, remember?) and I'm on a rental bike from Germany, I'm not exactly the most practical civilian for a gendarme to deal with. I get away with a promise to replace the light bulb at the earliest opportunity (I do that first thing the following morning, in fact).