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South of France Day 1

There was a bit of a hold this morning as after breakfast the rental company still had not delivered the bike. Eventually it arrived and I got underway around 9:30-10:00. It was a stinking hot day with hardly a cloud in the sky. After the usual problems I always have with directions I finally found the correct road and headed off towards Petit Palais.

Basically today’s ride is a loop ride starting in Isle su la Sorgue, going to Menerbes, Bonnieux and Lacoste before returning to Isle sur la Sorgue. The ride mostly followed the Luberon bike route which is sign posted in a fashion, and takes in the best of Provences hilltop villages.

The hilltop villages of Provence that I visited today where all nestled precariously into the hillside or on top of hills. Houses had been built around a ch√Ęteau or church, and crops or vineyards planted alongside or in the surrounding plains. Shady squares, clear running fountains, windy narrow streets and the stone construction where all typical elements of each village I visited.

Some of the villages where still thriving, others less so, some even deserted as over the years the need for fortified protection has diminished and the towns people had relocated to the plains. The village of Menerbes stretched out on a spur and dating back to Roman times, was probably my favourite today. It seemed to me to be the most populated and thriving of villages I visited, and seems to be home to muscians, writers, artist and craftsmen.

All up today the ride was around 70kms’s in heat up to 38 degrees. By 14:00 I was pretty stuffed and still faced around 30km’s to get back to the hotel. To make matters worse after I had finished the final climb and descent it was around 25km’s into a blustery head wind to get home. I was very happy to see the hotel, grab some dinner in town and then crash. A very tiring day.

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