Rather than do a point-to-point style of vacation, it was requested I pick a couple places to stay and do routes from where we’re staying. This has a benefit of allowing us to settle into a place for a few days and get to know the area, and pick out places we really want to see.
But there’s the travel between the two sites, and instead of doing it in one day, we’re doing it over two. The idea was to leave Malaucene and drive to Barcelonnette, but then there’s this amazing geographical feature along the way that requires at minimum one day. Mountains are what fills my soul for cycling, but the gorges also are incredible too… And when you have the Gorges du Verdon in your path, you damn well better stop and enjoy them.
I had the inspiration for the ride after reading an article in Cyclist magazine that my friend Jose brought me while I was holed up in the hospital after breaking my hip. Again the pre-planning didn’t end up as what has been booked. Originally we were going to drive to Castellane from Sisteron, but now it’s from Malaucene and we’re driving to Trigance.
A bit about the drive. It will be an all day drive. By distance it’s about 130 miles, but it’s France and with fiddly roads it’s definitely going to take at least 4 hours of driving, not to mention the stops along the way. We’ll take in the fullness of the Luberon Valley at places like the Lavender Museum in Coustellet to Rousillon and the Ochre Trail, to Pont Julien — a 3rd century BC Roman bridge, thru Bonnieux to the old Fort de Buoux, round thru Auribeau and Castelet and then up into Cereste. We might then stop at the L’Occitane en Provence factory/museum, and then likely around the Lac de Sainte Croix on our way to the hillside town of Trigance.
That night we’ll be staying in a freaking castle on the side of the cliff, the Chateau de Trigance.
The next day is a ride of exploration. With the wife and daughter in the sag vehicle, I’ll go and ride from Trigance around the Gorges du Verdon, pretty much the same ride that Will at Cycling-Challenge did… “…without a doubt some of the most gorgeous cycing in France is through its many gorges, and the most impressive must be Les Gorges du Verdon…”
It’s a long haul of a ride, and it’s the only ride I’m expecting to have a point where I just get into the car and be done (since I’ll have a sag wagon).
Pretty much the ride is one of just jaw dropping beauty that we’ll be stopping many times along the route to gawk. Places like
The Balcons de la Mescla
The ever popular bungee jumping site of the Pont de l’Artuby
The Tunnel du Fayet
The top of the Col d’Illoire
The town of Aiguines
Around to one of the most beautiful villages of France, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Up the Col d’Ayen,
then the Route des Cretes loop, and up to Rougon and the Pont Sublime.
Hopefully I won’t have died from the climbing on the bike, because Moustiers-Sainte-Marine is a really pretty town:
As well as Castellane:
And after all that we’ll still have a 3 hour drive to get to Barcelonnette for our 2nd week. Check in after 4pm. Wheeee. Early to rise and ride it seems.