Puivert/Quillan/Lapradelle/Puilaurens/Saint Paul de Fenouillet

Today was a funny old day weather-wise. It rained continuously throughout the night. It really didn’t stop once (at least as far as it’s possible to know when you’re asleep). You might recall that we weren’t far from the lake & so occasionally Sophie would look out the window to be sure the water wasn’t rising up our tyres. 

When we woke it was so cold I had to decide whether to reach out and put the heater on or just stay put fully under the covers. Anyway, the rain had abated, but the temperature didn’t improve. Sophie was keen to get moving asap, as she’s not one for sitting still in one place for too long (or so she tells me). So we headed off. 

Admittedly we had bypassed a couple of potentially lovely towns previously simply because the inclement weather left us uninspired. The town where we’d just overnighted, Puivert, with its castle was one of those. As we left, we saw the swollen river thundering through and looking very brown from all the churning up that had been going on. 

It was very cloudy and in fact foggy in places. We’d come across pull over spots which seemed to promise spectacular mountain views, but all there was was fog. 

We then made the windy, damp, foggy descent into Quillan, where we dropped beneath the cloud line, although the rain persisted as we looked for provisions & fuel. We saw a sign for a Carrefour with petrol pumps pointing in the direction we were heading, so thought we’d take advantage of the free aire next to the station & visit the town given that the rain had now fully stopped and hints of blue sky were appearing. 

The river here was a much bigger version of the one at Puivert. It looked extremely powerful & not to be messed with as large logs and other bits of tree and assorted detritus whooshed past in a boiling brown soup. Sophie found some interesting things to photograph (when doesn’t she), whilst regularly asking me to move so that I wouldn’t ruin her photos. 

The route out of Quinlan was very much like being at the bottom of a gorge and Sophie was sure I was getting too close to the overhanging rocks, but all was fine. 

We then arrived at Lapradelle which led to the Chateau de Puilaurens. We tentatively took to the narrow route up, took a view that the road was not designed for motorhomes, and then pulled to the side and turned around. Strangely, we changed our minds straight away and continued on up, only to be presented with a 2.9 metre restriction only just round the corner, so this now meant reversing down the road. Anyway, there was a sensible aire in the little town and we topped up our water. 

The much-promised Carrefour turned out to be a further 20k even from here, but no worries as it was en route anyway. Somewhere between Lapradelle and St Paul de Fenouillet, the weather seemed to change dramatically, as did the terrain. As the plain opened up with the mountains to the sides, all we could see was blue sky and the temperature reading was suggesting 18C. Bearing in mind it was 3C when we got up this morning that was quite a change. 

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