In a mad rush to get to The South, we took good advantage of the northerly wind that usually blows down the Rhone valley, and pulled three 100+ km days. We never did make it back to Montpellier on our bikes, but pretty close as you’ll see soon. We finally made our way out of the hills of Savoie, and next to the Isere River, and the welcome surprise of a cycling road for 20 or so km. No pictures, but here’s lunch from the charcuterie.
You see people carrying baguettes in all sorts of interesting ways in France (I’m sure there’s a coffee table book waiting to be made.), but I’ll bet this is one-of-a-kind.
We slept in Romans-sur-Isere at our 2nd chambres d’hotes (B&B), and realized that it is a great way to get to practice our French. Campsites are generally not that social, and populated by Dutch and Germans anyway, and you only speak to the receptionist at a hotel usually. We had a good ol’ chat with our hosts that evening – something of a rarity even in our day-to-day lives! Here’s breakfast – a civilized affair, when compared to lunch at least.
This B&B was actually pretty unique, at least for us. The hosts lived in the house and we slept in a sort of guest house near the pool. You didn’t have the feeling you were invading somebody’s house at all, which is always nice. Very cozy as well. Here’s the link, if you are ever in the area.
Next day we found ourselves in familiar territory. Gone were the high mountains, cold evenings, and colorless food. We were now in the south of France – home to olives, lavender and…nuclear power plants.
OK, I’m not being fair. France gets a very large percentage of its energy from these things, and you can find them just about everywhere in the country. But we passed 3 PLANTS in ONE DAY! That’s a bit overkill. But at least it’s clean energy, evidenced by the wind turbines placed next to this reactor. Can someone explain the reasoning behind this, please?
On Day 13 we crossed the Rhone a couple of times to find the best roads to cycle on. This is an old, rickety (it groaned as you rode over it, even on bicycles!) that we gingerly crossed over near the end of the day.
Day 14 was short-ish. This, our last day of the trip, was spent in the true south, out of site of any nuclear plant…
…but in full view of Roman ruins. We had our morning coffee in Orange, in Provence, next to its center piece, the Roman theatre. The wall you see is the back of the theatre. The semi-circular stands form a ‘U’ on the other side.
After Orange it was an easy ride along the Rhone to Avignon, with its sing-song (although I have no idea how the tune goes) bridge.
It’s quite an interesting place, Avignon. Home to a series of Popes in the Middle Ages, it has a rich history and lots of stuff to gawk at. But we had a train to catch (and we’d done our gawking a few years back anyway), so instead we planted ourselves on a square, coincidentally named Place de la Comedie (Montpellier residents will get the reference). Anyway, it was very pleasant. Can you see the quality of the light from the picture below? I, for one, hadn’t been away from the south for over a year, and this trip proved to be inspirational in a way. For all the things that could irritate me about living in the south of France, this light (and the heat that comes with it) fades them all out.