Day 4 Montpellier to Brighton - Donneville

84 km to a hobbit house

Tonight we had hoped to make it to Toulouse but as the day went on it became clear that Toulouse was too far. So we staying in Donneville, in someone's garden in a tiny house previously occupied by Bilbo Baggins. We were pleased to get it.
A night in the garden shed

The big news of the day is that after leaving Carcassonne and passing some 20 sets of lock gates the gates are now pointing the other way. We have crossed the watershed and instead of flowing into the Mediterranean the water is flowing into the Atlantic. Actually for quite a few kilometres the water didn't flow in either direction and stayed on the path.
More mud tracks
The Canal du Midi just beyond Castelnaudrey 
When French velo routes are in good condition it's possible to tootle along at between 15 and 20km all day long. Some of the Canal des Deux Mers however is still work in progress and the route can be difficult, so pace slows right down. That's what happened to us today just after Carcassonne and again at the watershed, about 10kms beyond Castelnaudrey. The path was narrow and muddy with huge tree routes providing additional interest. It's only a problem if a you have to be somewhere and as we hadn't booked anywhere in Toulouse we decided to aim for Donneville.
Working lunch - French style
So far so good. Despite my complaints about the endless lunch break yesterday we did in fact stop for lunch after 45kms in Castelnaudrey. To be fair it wasn't as protracted as yesterday with everything fitting into the French lunch hour - 12.30 to 1.45. The 'Dolce Vita' was packed with men in blue overalls but there was no objection to our alternative lycra uniform. We devoured a perfectly adequate 3 course menu du jour.
From limestone to brick
Apart from the muddy stretch the afternoon was great as the path became a metaled track dedicated to velo's as soon as we crossed into Haute Garonne. We enjoyed an idyllic afternoon along our tree lined canal. Yesterday's vineyards have disappeared, fields of cereals now dominate, and the limestone buildings have gone as well. Instead of sandy limestone the bridges, locks and canal side cottages are built with equally attractive hand made red bricks

With declining energy levels patience started wearing thin but thankfully for the last 15kms the going improved further and we raced along a near perfect cycle track. At last we were in Donneville looking for accommodation in a huge logis near the road. It was full, or at least that what we told. On Mondays here lots of places seem to be closed or half closed as businesses recover from being open on Sunday.

After roaming around the village we noticed a sign for a 'chambre d'hote', knocked on the door and were greeted by a lovely man who escorted us into his garden. The hobbit house ( which he built lovingly by hand in his back garden when he retired) is tiny but very comfortable and best of all available on a Monday. Hobbits are 24/7.

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