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Ride number two in Provence

August 22, 2011 | 8:35 am

We are well into our second week and I have managed four rides in total. The first you know about, the second is presented here for your information….

Having got the lie of the land with my first ride last Sunday, and with the help of Google Maps, I set out on Tuesday monring with the hope that I would go on quieter and more picturesque roads.

This proved to be the case. Heading out from our villa towards Le-Puy-Sainte-Réparade, the road was a traditional tree lined route that we see a lot when driving and riding over here. A long row of mature tree’s on the south side of the road, that must have been planted over 100 years ago, protect travellers from the sun for most of the day. Often there are trees on both sides providing a full tree canopy to shade the road, but not here.

Once through the small village of Le-Puy-Sainte-Réparade, I started climbing out of the valley of the Rover Durance – the vally which dominates the area we are staying in. The hill in the way meant 600ft of steady climbing at about 6% gradient for about 3 miles, before dropping down the other side by about 400ft into the lovely village of Rognes. You know when you are onto a good route when the road signs are in brown. Like in the UK, the ‘tourist’ road signs telling travellers of local interesting places etc are all brown backgrounds with white lettering. I had chanced upon the “Route de Vin”, presumably some guidebook tour of the local areas Chateaux.

Out the other side of Rognes it was a drop back down to the valley floor of the River Durance. The descent took me past a beautiful lake set in the trees. The lake must have been man-made, as there was a very pretty old Dam at one end – I know, call me Sherlock Holmes. As the road came round the bottom end of the lake, I crossed through some buildings that I think might have been hydro-electric related. A huge canal (the Canal de l’e.D.F.) snakes through the whole of this valley and I think this lake was flowing into it. I presume this is all connected, as obvioulsy EDF is the National French electricity company and it would be a huge coincidence if the canal shares the same name and has nothing to do with power generation!!!

Anyway, once past the lake, I crossed the both canal and river and headed towards Cadenet. I went through this village on my first ride, but left in a different direction to cover the short 3 miles to Lourmarin. This was my real target for the day, as this is where Nikki says Peter Mayle currently lives.

If you don’t know who Peter Mayle is, you may have heard of the book ‘A Year in Provence’. I’ve never read it but Nikki has and says it’s very funny. From an English point of view, Peter Mayle is credited with popularising a lot of this region, and I thought, if he lives there, maybe its a nice village.

Well, more than nice – it’s beautiful. Really beautiful. I stopped for a quick brioche and bottle of water but resolved to bring Nikki back to explore properly. We have actually been back twice this week. More on that in another post, but here’s a sneak peak with a snapshot of the Chateau de Lourmarin.

Leaving Lourmain, I headed east, starting back home but once again keeping off the main routes. This is how I came to Ansouis. Another gorgeous village with a castle in the middle, I aslo resolved to go back there. We haven’t done that yet – there’s just not enough time!

Here instead is a view of Ansouis Castle from the East, set up above the village.

Through the other side of Ansouis, and I was into my first real area of vineyards. This is always a good time to see the grapes hanging on the vine, as the harvest usually starts in a couple of weeks at the beginning of September.

From there, it was back round Pertuis and home. All in all, a much nicer ride, reflecting the countryside and villages of this area that brought us back this year.

Posted by Gareth

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