Barbotan-les-Thermes to Marciac

The little blue squiggle indicates where we rode today in France


Barbotan is a thermal spa town full of ‘old’ people. Last year we stayed in another spa town in France, Bourbonne-les-Bains. That town also was full of ‘old’ people. I discovered another commonality today, they have meagre breakfasts designed for ‘old’ people, not cyclists.

Unfortunately not one healthy option available only high sugar cereals and bread and jams. I did ask for ‘fromage’ but got a big shake of the head!! At least the company was good!

Left to right: Martin, Mike, Lisette, Suni, Andy and Tony

We were first to depart the town riding down the main pedestrian strip. I was quite taken with this fruit and vegetable shop, particularly the colours and presentation.

The baskets of product front left are a type of dehydrated mushroom.

Riding out of town we rode past Lac d’Ulby where there were lots of people camping. We did not stop as the temperature gauge was showing only 9 degrees Celsius. Whilst we had plenty of clothes on our top half, our legs were bare and we were keen to keep them rolling over, albeit slowly as today was short in km and we could not arrive too early!

From the Lac we rode through undulating fields and vineyards. Grapes and maize were the main products.

Small quiet roads passing through farmlands.


More grapes, plus Tony

Villages past through included Cuxtan (9.0 km) and Ayzieu (15.8 km). The next two photos show the views in this area.


At the entrance to a chateau

One thing we always notice in the sleepy hamlets and villages are just how quiet they are. It is like the people have all been spirited away. They are often ghostly quiet. If the silence is broken, it is generally in one of two ways. The tolling of the local church bell ( and every town has an ancient church) or it is the local dogs we upset.


When the day is short ( km wise) and you can’t arrive at your destination too early you cruise on your bike. You also look for places to stop, take photographs, have a coffee. However today towns with coffee were light on.

The route continued to be undulating with a couple of shorter climbs having 14 percent pinches. That is when you would like to dump the extra kg hanging off your handlebars!

By about the 25 km mark I had dumped my long sleeve jacket and had arm warmers on! It was a balmy 14 degrees!! Ha ha. But the sun was nice.

More of today’s route

At the 25 km point we entered Ste Christie D’Armagnac, a small hamlet. The instructions said to “BL, road climbs through arch and then descends steeply (Caution rough lane).

However, the route was totally blocked with fencing closing the road. What to do? That is the advantage of having a Garmin satellite showing local roads. We re-routed and within a few km rejoined the original route.

We planned to stop at Aignan (38.6 km) hoping to find some sustenance. It did not disappoint. Aignan is another bastide town with the all familiar squares. I popped into the small supermarket and found some nice local diced cheese to nibble on. We sat in the sun!

Yet another 12th century church
The view from our spot in the sun

Leaving Aignan we noted the sunny blue skies had become ominously dark in spots, and rain was threatening. The wind had picked up as well.

The rest of the route was as it had been so far, undulating up and down with occasional shorter pinches.

I have just come out of one of those steep pinches here!

On the outskirts of Marciac is this lake.

Look at that dark cloud! It motivated us to move on!

We arrived in Marciac well ahead of the Bike Adventures van. We knew we would and had planned to kick our heels up somewhere! After a visit to the boulangerie, we sat in the square enjoying the sun ( that dark cloud having moved on).

View from the square
Marciac is also a bastide village
And again!

After showering and laundering we went wandering visiting the historical buildings.

Looks like I got caught reading about this building whilst enjoying the sun

We then wandered down to the second spire that dominates the local skyline. St Augustine was an ancient convent.

St Augustine

Enter the arch shown on the left and this is what we found!

An archeological dig with skeletons!
Broader overview of the dig

So another day done and dusted! Tomorrow gets a bit more serious climbing wise as we continue through the foothills of the Pyrenees to Lannemezan.


4 thoughts on “Barbotan-les-Thermes to Marciac

  1. Long Troc

    Excellent report Mink! That view from the square looks like a scene from Western movies … you know, when the bad guys roll into town, all the villagers disappear inside with doors and windows shut tight 🙂 Enjoy your rides!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Long! Almost like that too. As we rolled into this town it was their siesta time. Doors were shutting, blinds go down… you think, okay……the bastide villages are awesome. They all have these squares going back to the 12th and 13th century. U!tra cool!! 😊


      1. Long Troc

        This ancient sleepy town certainly looks peaceful for the seniors :)! The finds in that archaeological excavation does suggest that the Roman has been there in the past! Hope you and Tony will enjoy the Pyrenees.


  2. Mark Hughes

    Thank goodness Barbotan was full of ‘old people’…. you could fit right in!!! The little villages and ancient churches look to be great finds on your adventure. A ‘steep pinch’ is exactly what you need every now and then Shaz – to keep you under control!! (regardless of the road conditions!!) Good looking legs sunning themselves on the church front… though it must have been a local ‘jeunes filles’!!! Creepy excavation!!


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