Day 5 – Chirac to St-Flour – 48 miles

As I’m washing my bidons (behave) in the morning a bloke at the next basin strikes up a conversation. You can tell he’s French as he has a moustache and is a millennial. Which other nationality wants to look like their great grandfather? Butchering the French language with my failed O Level French I tell him of my journey whilst he expresses awe and respect. I would have liked to have pointed out that last night’s beauty sleep was delayed because of him jibbering onto to his mate until past eleven. But it’s not British.

The first stop was Marvejols.


Quite a small but delightful spot very busy with a Saturday morning market. It still amazes me that the French would queue for various parts of small dead animals that you’d only contemplate consuming on ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’. So with a safer coffee and croissants consumed I left town and hoped the road would continue to be flat.

Your wish is my command…

Nope. For the next couple of hours I climbed upwards by over 500m. Despite not getting the French O Level then I had more success with Self Pity and after reaching the top I was ready for the A Level. This is not the way to start a day.

So with this tiring start the next attraction was finding Chély d’Apcher. This attractive, yet industrial town is twinned with a local town to where we live, Tadcaster. We live 9 miles away. Tadcaster has three breweries but is frankly mainly a selection of empty shops, bakers, charity shops and down at heel pubs. It’s caught between two bigger cities and it’s glory days are well past. Twinning as a popular activity came about after WW2 between French and German towns as they attempted to heal the divisions. The towns usually have something in common. I could see no similarities here.

Town square. Restaurants abound on the perimeter
Bigger pizzas than Tad as well. (I did leave a piece!)

So onwards the road ran alongside the A75 motorway.

However, one notable detour was deep into a valley where this magnificent construction straddled the gap.

The viaduct at Garabit
It seems the boy Eiffel occasionally got out of Paris

I left this valley needing crampons. Sadly I was truly shot. The mountains and miles before had rendered me totally depleted. I struggled into the nearby town of St-Flour and then staggered up another spiteful hill to a campsite nearby. (I’d climbed 1,222m today). I would always hope to ride further than this. After all the heat then today had been cooler mainly due to a constant headwind. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

The route in total

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