We’ve been jumping from town to pretty town these last few days like fleas jumped onto Alex’s legs, but more about this later.
Let’s start with Auch, it was more or less on our route we don’t really have, and I picked it out because it’s spelled exactly the same as the German word ‘auch’ meaning ‘too’. It’s the capital of the department Gers and lies in the Midi-Pyrenees region. We parked up near the centre as usual and off we went on our bikes on a lovely cycle path all along the river Le Gers. Right in the centre along said path we saw a pretty cool yet sweaty Frenchie with a radio control in his hand. We looked to see what he was controlling and believe it or not, it was a lawnmower! Now,… I don’t know about you, but we are quite excitable people and that right there was a pretty cool thing to watch. Anyway, you don’t have to share our excitement but check out the picture.
On the opposite side of the river was the medieval centre and quiet high up (for us beginners on bikes) was yet another very impressive cathedral. They seem to get bigger and harder to reach but we cycled our sweaty bums up these pretty lanes towards the top, and it was well worth it let me tell you. There it was on the Place de la Republique, the grand Cathedral Saint-Marie.
The square has recently been nominated a UNESCO site as part of the ‘Worldwide Cultural Heritage on the roads to Compostella’. We unknowingly seem to be following this pilgrims way. As for the cathedral, they began the build in 1489 and finally completed it two centuries later, which makes me think that we were not the only ones who lost some sweat over this cathedral. We went to check the inside out and found one piece that really didn’t seem to fit in at all. See the “skull like” picture below..
Just behind Saint-Marie on the Place Salinis is the Tour d’Armagnac, a 40m high tower with seven upper floors that was used as a prison in the 14th century.
Right from there you can see the Escalier Monumental (Great Staircase) that leads down to the lower part of the city. At the bottom is a bronze statue of d’Artagnan, like I said in my previous post, he’s still quite a big deal in this region. The cast lettering is a modern installation by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and tells the Biblical story of the flood.
After plenty of sightseeing we headed further south in the search for a place to sleep and we were lucky to find a duck farm in Saint Michel. We received a warm welcome from an older gent who’s son now runs the farm. After some broken French on my part, some photos and Google Translate, they welcomed us to stay on their farm and we set up camp.
They had quite a few chickens, thousands of ducks, and two dogs. The old black Labrador even caught a poor little mole right in front of us!! After “cat like stalking, stealth and agility”, he pulled that furry little fella right outta the ground… a grizzly end for a poor subterranean. Alex briefly made friends with several fleas that jumped his juicy legs as he stood near the dog bed (the dogs sleep right next to the loo) but they weren’t allowed to stick around. And as if that wasn’t enough, we had to fight an army of mosquitoes in our tent before we could even think about sleeping. Ready for the challenge, we went into action mode, equipped with two torches. We smashed these miniature ‘birds of prey’ against the canvas of the tent. That we won goes without saying, plus we now have a really abstract pattern on the inside of our tent. We were also awoken by the loudest thunder, rain and lightning you can imagine in the small hours, and Alex got a super early morning shower as we forgot to close the sunroof on the truck before bed. Ah the joys of living on the road 🙂