Sunday was my ‘endurance day’ on the training week, so I opened up my Provence Michelin and checked out where I could get to in 4 or so hours. I have to get accustomed to living on the edge of Languedoc now – we are really at the doorstep of Provence. So anyway, today Mr. Patterson went to Provence!
First, no stranger to this blog – Chapelle St. Laurent. I’m not sure why I love this so much, but I always stop by and take the same picture of it. It’s about 20 km from home, so a good place to have a stretch, and the general loneliness of it is really appealing. It’s also a good place to take a leak, if you’re in the neighborhood…and have to pee.
Not far along the road I crossed the mighty Rhône River, where two rival castles still stand, one on either side. The left is in Beaucaire, in what is now Languedoc-Roussillon, and the right is Terascon, in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. You might need to squint to see the Beaucaire castle. Top left of the photo.
Then it was a long, flat ride through a mildly nasty mistral to the foot of a 7 km climb to Les Baux de Provence. This route, unlike the two or three others that access Les Baux, is totally free of camper vans and tour buses (Les Baux is one of the most visited places in France) and it was just me, a car or two, and one other cyclist the whole way up.
Then my first view of Les Baux. At first glance it looks like the rocky top of a mountain, but there’s plenty up there! Along the very top stretches the ruins of a medieval stronghold, with the village below, from around the center of the photo to the right. Then of course there are the hundreds of cars to the left and the thousands of tourists inside the village (thankfully hidden). Even with the crowds it’s one of the most beautiful villages I’ve ever seen and well worth the effort to get there (if you cycle up of course!).
Equally lovely is the location of Les Baux – smack dab in the middle of a small mountain range called Les Alpilles. The area is really tiny and easily ridden in a day – there are plenty of excellent roads through olive grove after olive grove (the area is famous for its olive oil).
The red line is Sunday’s ride. The blue one is a foggy ride done with friend John a couple months ago