Condrieu, France to Marseille, France

Day 20 – Monday 17/05
Condrieu to Tain-l’Hermitage – 56kms Total 1312kms

We slept in this morning, we knew it would be a short day. The ride was very good today and very fast, the Mistral was blowing real hard from the North, making average nearly 18kph.
The sun even came out early for a change and it turned out to be a great (and dry) day to be on a bike. It did cross our minds to take advantage of this strong tail wind and make a more kilometers but we had a rest day planned.
The first camp we came to was ok but the receptionist would not give us the place we asked for so we moved on to the next place which turned out to be much better. It has good thick grass, a supermarket nearby and it was right on the river.

2010051701

Above all else we were glad to see blue skies again.

2010051702

More silk smooth cycling paths this morning.

2010051762

The route we generally took to Marseille.

2010051703

20 kilometers to go.

2010051704

Some of the views looking West.

2010051705

The landscape has surly changed since the Rhine Rhone canal.

2010051706

The great camping spot at Tournon.

2010051707

It didn’t take long to set up and go to the supermarket for some refreshments.

2010051708

Nice looking river cruise boat on the Rhone.

2010051709

Dinner tonight, rice with some very nice mushroom sauce we picket up at a butcher shop.

Day 21 – Tuesday 18/05
Rest day – Tain-l’Hermitage

Got up late and after the our usual morning routine I did some bicycle maintenance and then we went to McDonalds for the free wifi and booked our tickets from Marseille to Bastia.
Later we cleaned the bikes, did some work on the website than chilled with a few cold ones in the warm sunshine.

2010051810

It was nice to see our steeds shine again.

Day 22 –  Wednesday 19/05
Tain- l’Hermitage to Bourg-St.Andeol 92kms Total 1404 kms

Wow what a day, we followed the D86 all day long with this ferocious tail wind which made our average go up to 19kph. It was great when we were heading South but as soon as the road turned the crosswind was blewing us all over the place.
So now we just head south towards Marseille to catch the boat for Corsica.
Camping here has just opened, we were the only ones there, the facilities are ok for the price.

2010051911

We now know how far is Marseille.

2010051912

We were so happy that the weather finally broke and we could just enjoy riding in the sun again.

2010051913

Seems every hill top had a castle.

2010051914

Or it seems the remains of a castle.

2010051915

Great cycling along this road with a courteous drivers and a decent shoulder most of the time.

2010051916

Even when we were on a section without a shoulder we still felt safe.

2010051917

More hilltop remains of castles.

2010051918

Enjoying a huge sandwich for lunch.

2010051919

Underneath the castle remains.

2010051920

Monique went to check out this old church while on our lunch break.

2010051920a

The newer sections of this road were very smooth and really nice to cycle on.

2010051921

We rode through a natural park.

2010051922

And many little villages. There was a bit of a traffic jam in this village with a couple of houses being driven down the road.

2010051923

Someone thought to put up what looks like an angel on top of a very high rock.

Day 23 – Thursday 20/05
Bourg-St.Andeol to Avignon – 76kms Total 1480kms

Another good day of cycling. The first 15kms or so were on busy roads but the rest was on small rural roads with minimal traffic.
The weather was great again with the sun out and the Mistral was still blowing very hard from the North.
Avignon is a nice town but very touristy we could not imagine what it would be like in high season.
The camping we chose was on the opposite river bank and was not the best but we didn’t expect anything better for a city camping.

2010052024

Early morning breaking camp in Bourg-Saint-Andeol.

2010052025

Another fantastic cycling day with a with a strong tail wind.

2010052026

When we entered the Ardeche region the roads became much more busier and narrower.

2010052028

But soon we turned off to some smaller rural roads and the cycling was pleasant again.

2010052029

Now this is the cycling we love decent roads and no traffic.

2010052030

And the ever present hilltop castles.

2010052063

Great wine growing country. Click to view larger.

2010052031

Entering Avignon.

2010052032

Beautiful city. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore it more. But something tells us that we will be cycling through this area again.

2010052035

We arrived early enough to just cycle around the city for a little bit before dinner.

2010052036

Just beautiful.

2010052037

There were hundreds of sculptures all around town.

2010052038

There was just so much to see and not enough time.

2010052064

If you’re ever near here stop and check out Avignon it’s truly a beautiful town. Click to view larger.

Day 24 – Friday 21/05
Avignon to Salon-de-Provence – 57kms Total 1537kms

As expected it was difficult to get out of Avignon but once out the ride was much better. At one point while crossing the A7 we noticed a small rural road right next to it so we decided to follow and it turned out to be a good choice as we only saw about 4 cars in about 15kms.
After that nice ride we ended up on a couple busy D roads for a while before we got on this very beautiful road heading to Eyguieres through this natural park and this was the real highlight of the day.
The camping which is on the D17 just before Salon is very nice and we highly recommend this place.

2010052139

The small road  along the busy A7. It was a real pleasure to ride on.

2010052140

Cycling through the natural park.

2010052141

More beautiful rural roads.

2010052142

On a climb to this very nice plateau.

2010052165

On the D569 in the Parc Naturel regional des Alpilles. Click to view larger.

2010052143

Our great camping spot. Lovely camping next to little brook.

Day 25 – Saturday 22/05
Salon-de-Provence to Aix-de-Provence 44kms Total 1581kms

Got up and on the road by 09:30. We had a great nights sleep but a bit hung over from the cheap bottle of French wine. Today was another great day of cycling, we had a good laugh at one point when we were struggling to make any headway on this road (which made us thing we were totally out of shape) but after about 15kms we rounded this corner to see the valley way down below. Seems we were climbing all along and didn’t even notice it 🙂
The camping here (the one next to the highway) is very good, with very good shops near by.
Looking forward  to tomorrow heading into Marseille to catch the boat.

2010052244

Hangovers don’t last long when you ride on roads like this in Provence.

2010052245

This is when we realized we had been climbing for the last 15 kilometers.

2010052246

Finally beginning to look like a sunshine tour.

2010052247

With the uphill comes the nice downhill.

2010052248

We love Provence.

Day 26 – Sunday 23/05
Aix-de-Provence to Marseille – 30kms Total 1611kms

Got on the road at around 10:30 found the D8n which brought us to about 100m of the docks. The beginning of the ride was ok but this road took us right through the roughest looking neighborhood in Marseille.
Than we waited from 12:30 to 18:15 to get aboard the ship. We thought about riding around a bit and check out the city but we hoped that they would let us board early and we could chill out on board the ship. We thought wrong. Looking back we think all the ships have the same policy.
The cabins were clean but it was the waiting and the four (that’s “4”) euros for 33cl bottle of beer was a little bit too much.
Anyway we bit the bullet and had a nice, (if expensive) dinner and went to bed. We slept very good this night.

2010052349

Entering the city limits. We didn’t take many pictures of our ride through the city the area was just rough and not a pleasure to ride through the multicultural areas.

2010052350

They must have had a lot of mist last night because by 12:00 the sun had still not burned through completely.

2010052351

Trying to decide if we should check out the city or wait to see if they let us in early.

2010052352

Glad we had our mp3’s to keep us from getting bored to death.

2010052353

Once on board the ship we were shocked to see the drink menu card. We were hoping for a few beers but not at these prices.
Shame that people don’t realize that having the drinks a bit cheaper they might actually sell some.

2010052361

Once we settled in our cozy and very clean little cabin we went on deck to…

2010052354

…take some pictures of Marseille.

2010052355

Thanks to the great zoom on our camera some distant places could still be enjoyed.

2010052366

A large panorama of the dock area. Click to view larger.

2010052356

Happy with the finish of our first leg of this journey.

2010052357

This ship from the same line seemed to be more for the winter moths as everything was closed around it.

2010052358

As much as we would like to check out cathedrals and other historical places we hate large cities, so unless we book another boat from here Marseille will not see us again.

2010052359

This seems to be the old part of the city.

2010052360

And one picture of the both of us on deck when the ship finally sailed.

Continue on to Part 2 or our tour, the islands starting with our favorite, Corsica.