I wonder how many times a title like this has been used for a blog? Well, in lieu of coming up with something creative, it’ll do nicely, I think, since that’s what Shoko and I had – two days riding through Peter Mayle’s Provence.
Because I spent all year riding my bike far too fast and furious for fun, Shoko and I didn’t have our usual cycling vacation. I’ve vowed to rectify that at least a little by squeezing in a few weekend trips before the weather turns (relatively) bad. Here’s our first.
After dusting off the Cannondale, and a 30-minute train ride to Avignon, we were on our way through the endless apple groves of the Vaucluse.
After awhile on the flats of the Rhone delta we rode up to the flanks of the Luberon, a small mountain range that lends its name to the region. Our first stop was Oppède le Vieux (Oppède the Old), a quaint tourist/artist village that had been abandoned in the 19th century for the sunnier flats below (right, there’s an Oppède down there, too), only to be resettled by artists in the 20th. The villagers took the roofs off their houses when they moved to avoid paying property taxes (I wish I could do the same, but someone lives upstairs…)!
Our next village held more promise. Lacoste has the pleasure of being the origins of the word ‘sadism’. The Marquis de Sade’s castle, still dominating the hilltop above the village, was the locale of many of his most dastardly deeds. The village today is calm and has a really lovely view. The only sadistic thing remaining, as far as I can tell, is the climb to get up to it. Here’s the view from the terrace of the café we just had to stop at.
After a great, long descent from Lacoste, we joined the Véloroute du Calvaron, a mixed-use path that would take us to our hotel in Apt. The route goes over a Roman bridge that’s been in my sights for some time now, le Pont Julien.
This took us right into Apt, our destination, and our hotel – the honestly-advertised ‘Cheap Hotel – Etap Hotel‘. Cheap, for sure, but couldn’t beat the location and everything was brand new and stuff actually worked. This one is also part of the Vélo Loisir du Luberon and offers locked accommodation for bikes as well as muesli for breakfast, i.e. something that will stick to a cyclist’s guts a bit better than an airy baguette.