Monday, 25 July 2005
Distance 19 km
Duration 4 hours 30 minutes
Ascent 122 m, descent 175 m
Map 64 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
This was our last walking day. All we had to eat for breakfast were the blackberries we had picked and some left-over pizza.
The bells of Dourgne were ringing the seven o’clock chimes as we swung down to the square and out onto the highway, walking swiftly, with morning energy, along the road until we got to where we could rejoin the GR, which does not actually go through Dourgne.
After a couple of kilometres on the track we had to decide whether to stay on the GR or cut through by road to Sorèze, which we had missed last year and which sounded interesting. We chose the road.
Sorèze is a charming town, much older than Revel, based around an abbey and crossed by canyon-like lanes.
The only defect of the place from our point of view was that no bars were open, not even the one on the highway. Admittedly it was Monday, a notoriously inhospitable day in France.
For our last passage of walking we went back to the GR, not wanting to finish with the dreariness of a road-bash. It was a series of delightful lanes and we emerged onto the D622 just north of Revel.
Soon afterwards we were installed at a bar in the main square, looking onto the beautiful central halle, with a table full of pâtisserie and coffee in front of us, catching up on the news in the local paper.
The centre of Revel is one of the most perfectly preserved bastides in France. It was hard to take in the fact that our long ramble had come to an end. For some reason the two coffees cost us €1.20, but we did not enquire.
The Office of Tourism relieved our mind about getting to Toulouse – there was a bus service every morning. Then, assisted by several townsfolk, one of whom offered to drive us, we made our way to a supermarket and got sausage and salad for lunch.
We knew where the camping ground was, on the road to Sorèze, and it took no more than a few minutes to get there, whereas we had thought it a long way the first time we walked it. On the way we saw a construction worker with his face covered in blood being helped into an ambulance.
At the camping ground the office was closed, as it had been last year when we arrived. On that occasion the manager had been hostile about our having put up our tent before registering at the office, so this year we just sat on the ground in our chosen spot and ate our lunch.
We amused ourselves taking photographs of our equipment and of our strange suntans (brown legs, white feet) until the office opened, when we found there was a new man in charge, genial and relaxed.
We paid our €6.40 and hurried over to the showers. The tent went up soon afterwards and then it was time to go back to town to send our last email.
When we emerged at 7 pm the ferocity of the heat had faded. Having hunted about for the bus stop (just a timetable on a noticeboard on the Rue Gambetta), we looked around for somewhere to eat.
We did a complete circuit of the ring road (Boulevards Gambetta, de la République and Carnot successively) without finding anything we liked the look of.
Revel’s beauty is confined to the small central section and beyond that it quickly degenerates. It did not help that it was Monday. As a last resort we crossed the road to the Yankee Grill, whose name had so repulsed us in Castres, and ended up going in. By a miracle, we had finally found the social centre of the town.
It was packed with happy locals and was not, as we had imagined, a cultural invasion in the style of McDonald’s.
It was one of a little chain of four restaurants in the Lauragais region, this one run by a young French couple. A small fire glowed in the hearth, where pieces of meat were sizzling. I had ribs and Keith had an entrecôte, with salad and a baked potato.
Walking home in the dark – the days are drawing in already – we saw a baby hedgehog trundling across the footpath in the direction of the road and managed to convince it to go back into the bushes.
And so our great traverse of France came to an end.
The SNCF railway station at Revel is closed. However, there is an autocar (bus) service from the Revel to the Toulouse railway station.
We caught the 8:20 am bus from the Rue Gambetta and it took about an hour to get to Toulouse, picking up people along the way. From the Gare Routière (bus station), we walked to bay 2 to pick up the airport shuttle bus. There we got our easyJet flight to Paris-Orly at the amazing price of €7 each plus €15 taxes, and then the Orlyval connection to Anthony, which is on the RER system and gives access to all Paris.
There is also a railway station in Toulouse (Matabiau), which is just down the street from the Gare Routière. From there you can catch a train to almost anywhere in France.