Well, just a small one! We took an hour and a half journey on the “Train du Pays Cathare et du Fenouilledes”, in panoramic (open) carriages with a diesel-electric engine. This was the journey over the viaducts of the hundred year old line in the Cathar Country of the Pyrenees-Orientales, from Axat past St Paul de Fenouillet and back. Luckily it was a fine day, and the train wasn’t crowded, so we could change seats and always be facing in the direction of the train.
We stopped on the viaducts and were given a small description of the view (in French) before continuing. There was the forbidding-looking Chateau at Puilaurens, high in the hills above the village; canoeists on the River Aude; and the forests on either side of the track, one of which the locals called “The Forest of Pere Noel “(Father Christmas), with a small shed by the track painted like a tiny house with the name “La Maison de Pere Noel” (The House of Father Christmas)!
Obviously a tradition of this train journey is to shout, scream and whistle as the train passes through the tunnels! Absolutely deafening! Thank goodness by the time we passed through the last tunnel, about the seventh or eighth I think, everyone had calmed down – lost their voices, perhaps! Fingers in ears helped a little …
It’s a mountainous region, with a lot of adventure tourism like rafting, canoeing, walking and cycling. On the way back to our base in Chalabre we stopped at the pretty town of Quillan, wheich seemed to be en fete. So we parked outside the town and walked in to join the festivities … uh oh, whole town closed off with barriers and it would cost us 10 Euros each to enter, as there was a cycle race in the town and they were only on their 10th circuit of 75! Suddenly home for a swim seemed a good idea!