Reaching southern France
We have had a good 12 days of riding along the Rhône route. The terrain has leveled out since our big descent on the first day from the Furka Pass, but still offers the occasional climb.
Cycling through the Valais valley in Switzerland was delightful—good roads, good signage, good weather, and beautiful scenery. Another advantage of being in Switzerland is that stores and restaurants tend to be open all day—no need to work around lunch hours or Sunday closings, which can be a challenge in France.
It was a milestone to reach Lake Geneva on day 3, but the ride along its southern shore of the lake was hard: much of it along a busy and narrow highway; pretty intense riding, although the drivers were good about giving us the space we need. In some places the route detoured through little villages, which was a welcome reprieve.
Saturday a week ago we reached Geneva. I’ve discovered I really enjoy rolling into big cities by bike. It surprises me how easy it often is: a trail, a few turns and suddenly, there you are in the middle of the city. It feels like sneaking in via a back-door.
We continue to have good weather: no rain and temperatures in the mid twenties. The last few days we’ve also benefitted from the Mistral, the famous (or infamous) wind that blows DOWN the Rhône. Yes, we have enjoyed a lovely tailwind the last four days making our two 80 km days pretty easy.
The cycling has been uneventful, which is a good thing I suppose. We have simply been enjoying the cycling and the country side, which varies from vineyards to agricultural fields, some industry and power stations, old villages and many hills with old fortifications.
Today we arrived in Avignon—another surprise entry into the city via a path along a little canal (more like a ditch) and suddenly, there we were. Tomorrow we head to Arles and then down to the Camargue on the Mediterranean where we’ll spend one or two days celebrating the end of our Rhône adventure.
Our original thoughts were to continue from the Mediterranean along the Canal Du Midi to Bordeaux, and then up the Atlantic coast to Angers, where we started August 1. However, we (especially me, Inge) feel we’ve seen enough canals and rivers for a while, so instead we’ll head back to Avignon next Sunday and catch the train to Strasbourg first thing Monday morning. From there we’ll make our way back to the Netherlands, via Luxembourg and the Ardennes, where we will continue cycling but combine it with visiting friends and family.
Image above: Geneva