A Travellerspoint blog

France

Up to Chamonix

And Go Karting in Grasse

rain 20 °C

Next morning I take the bike for a proper ride, but as I don’t have all the gear I keep to the quiet roads and hills. Had a great time.
In the afternoon, L decides to head into Grasse to check out the perfume factories. As a historical centre for perfumes, Grasse has a number of factories around which do tours. Whilst she is doing this, G and I head into the hills to the Go Kart track. G is big enough that we get onto the intermediate track – 270cc 4 stroke motors – and they can go. We are on a short track, but with some good rise and falls and sharp turns. We had 15 minutes and I reckon I took the honours pretty well. By the end of the time, we had both got used to drifting a bit through the corners, picking our lines, all that good stuff. We walked off, and then back for another session and another 32 Euro. This time, the honours were evenly shared as G put a lot of lessons from the first session into play, and used his lighter weight and better acceleration to advantage. Great fun.Happy Boy

Happy Boy


So that was our last day and after another ride we pack and head north to Annecy. It is quite a ride and we have to stop a few times. Motorway lunch

Motorway lunch

Find the hotel, unload and then head in for dinner. It has been raining the whole time here, so we don’t get much of a look around, but what we see looks very pleasant.
In the morning(ish) we head east to Chamonix. Here we are going to go up the cable car to the Aguille du Midi to take in the magnificent views of Mont Blanc, six countries and a large proportion of the Alps. It is a great trip up to the middle station with great views over the valley and Chamonix.
At the half way point

At the half way point

Chamonix

Chamonix

At the middle station we change over to the upper car and head up – into the thick cloud which blocks the view past the end of you arm. So after some minutes in the cloud we clunk into position at the top station. Up here the air is thinner, so thin that it is very advisable to take it slow and not leap up any steps. We sit in the cafeteria to acclimatise and see if the cloud lifts. It doesn’t. Looking up to the top

Looking up to the top

It is COLD up here

It is COLD up here


We head up to the very top and have a look at the view, which is uniform in every direction – cloud. Go down and have a look at some mountaineering teams coming in, there is a mountain rescue team that has been on the snow for 3 days doing training. They are all carrying large packs and they are well roped together as it is a long way down in any direction. And although they are used to the altitude, their movements are very slow and deliberate.Coming in off the mountains after 3 days

Coming in off the mountains after 3 days


On the Aguille du Midi

On the Aguille du Midi


As the altitude is making G and L uncomfortable, we soon return to ground. Back in Chamonix we have a brief look about before we head back to Annecy. We have a brief chance to look around the lake edge part of town which is very picturesque, but no charge left in the battery so we have no photos to prove it. Would have been nice to spend more time around here – as i have said in a number of places... Nice dinner, then bed

Posted by lostagain 00:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

A day in the trees

Monkey business

sunny 24 °C

The next day the sun had come out, the skies were blue and the birds were singing. You would never know what passed yesterday.This morning I ducked into Decathlon and picked up some pedals and took the bike for its first ride. Or I would have if the tyres were not flat.
Anyway, we split up at this point as L dropped the two of us off at Canyon Forest, an adventure park where you get to walk on rope bridges, climb along cliff faces, do tarzan swings and go on flying foxes. We were on the red course, at 3 – 8 metres up in the air. The longest of the flying foxes was 140 metres long and went over the river. The long zip line over the river

The long zip line over the river

In the town square

In the town square

the air]Boy on the wall

Boy on the wall

The whole course took around two hours, plus cycling and training time. Thought it was great fun, and made the 24 euros each worth it. L came and picked us up in Villeneuve Loubet, where we picked up some hand made ravioli and sauce. Not for tonight though as we are off to Valbonne to dine out. This is very pretty, but obviously tourist central as we see the prices on the menu – much the same as a lot of places on the Cote d’Azur.

Posted by lostagain 05:06 Archived in France Comments (0)

Floods in Var

Bad day for a drive.

storm 12 °C

The next morning it is drizzling rain and G suggests it is a good day for wineries. I have picked the Haut Pays de Provence as it is the closest region for us to get to. We are heading west from Grasse to Draguignan. The rain has picked up a bit to. We have only got 10 kms when G announces he is not feeling at all well, so we pull into a bakery for a rest and some food and to see if there is an alternative route. There has been some rain here too as the area around the bakery has lost power. We grab some cold food and head to the toll road to work our way across on an easier road.
Progress here is quicker, but instead of the usual 130km/h in the slow lane, today we are at 80km/h and no one is passing us. Well, we don’t think so it is just hard to tell through the curtain of rain. Hop off the toll road at the Draguignan exit, but we are heading west to Les Arcs and Taradeau to see some of the wineries there, rain is really pelting down now. At Les Arcs, the gendarme turn us around as the rain has flooded the Taradeau road, so we try to skirt around via Vidauban, but the traffic comes to a standstill. Instead we head into Chateau Maime, surprising them that anyone is out in this weather at all, let alone to taste wines. Nice Rose there. Moving on the roads to Taradeau are definitely blocked and we have to head off elsewhere in the search for wine. The next place is up hill and down dale, mostly on sealed country tracks.
Still raining

Still raining

Asphalt road washed away in the torrential rain

Asphalt road washed away in the torrential rain

As we go along we can see that the rain is streaming down the hills and in places is ripping up drives and paths, but also cutting through some poor or old bitumen sealed road ways. Similar surprised reaction at the next place we taste, and on our return we can see that the regions terroir is flowing down the hills. On what remains of the road

On what remains of the road

We get on a main road next to a stream which is now a rolling red torrent spreading out over pastures and vineyards. We decide to take shelter in a shopping centre just off the road, but only spend a short time there before we are told to evacuate because the wind and the rain have worked under the roof and it may collapse very soon. We hightail it out and back to base along the tollway at 80 km/h again.
The next day the news is saying that 8 died in Draguignan and another at Les Murs. Two days later the death toll had been revised up to 25 with 10 still missing, and had we been a couple of hours earlier, we would have been right in the middle of it, rather than on the soggy extremes. Counted ourselves very lucky.

Posted by lostagain 05:02 Archived in France Comments (0)

Around Grasse

Up to the hills, down to the beach

semi-overcast 25 °C

Then next morning’s post breakfast plan is to go up to the Grand Canyon of Verdon – which the French knew of way before the English Americans knew about theirs – but I am blessed with two fragile passengers and we have to curtail the trip at St Vallier de Thiey before they spew. Benefit one: there is a market on, it’s not big and a lot of the stuff is ordinary and unremarkable, but there are a dozen or so food stalls. one of everything

one of everything

We store up on salamis, cheese, halva, a bit of fruit and a roast chicken. Benefit two: we get to sit on the edge of the local petanque piste and scoff roast chicken baguettes as we watch the Sunday scratch matches in progress. We then borrow some boules and provide the locals with some entertainment with a match of our own.Locals could not bear our style

Locals could not bear our style

Australian honour satisfied, we return the boules, say our thanks and farewells and head back to home to a huge spread for dinner.
Nice Spread

Nice Spread


In the morning I go and get Croissants for breakfast, then we are off to the beach. We get to the beach between Antibes and Villeneuve Loubet to find it is all stones. It is hard to walk on, uncomfortable to lie on and hard to jump around in. And the water gets deep so quickly that it is cold – this is a tanning beach. Nice Rocky Beach

Nice Rocky Beach

After a couple of hours we break off and head into Antibes. It is supposed to be up market but where we are has a decidedly tourist fee, not helped by our presence. We wander around for a while before getting into the car for a drive around Cap d’Antibes, the small peninsula behind Antibes. We have found the MONEY – big houses, quiet or private beaches and high walls. Didn’t see any of this when we were looking for apartments to rent. We enjoy a leisurely sticky beak and are still jealous as we drive back up the hill to have Pizza for dinner.

Posted by lostagain 04:58 Archived in France Comments (0)

Race across France

From Spain across France via Pont du Gard and Mont Ventoux, to the Cote d'Azur

semi-overcast 28 °C

No one wanted to get up but we had to say our fond farewells to Paradors, sorry, Spain. As we drive off in the rain, the Pyrenees do let us have a last glance of their magnificence. The rain has not stopped the cyclists, with one coming down the mountains with us through the rain and the roadworks. in descent

in descent

We have a long haul today, 4 hours up past Montpellier. It is uneventful, and we set out again the next day to the Cote D’Azur where the plan is to enjoy the sun for a week, and get a bit of rest. But we have a couple of diversions today. The first is through to Pont Du Gard, the triple tiered aqueduct near Nimes built by the Romans 2000 years ago, and still largely intact. G and I walk up to see it, but you cannot get close due to a fireworks show being set up on it. It is magnificent though, yet again a reminder of what people were capable of before machines and engines.
Just like the Roman kids used to

Just like the Roman kids used to


The next diversion is all mine as we head up Mont Ventoux. This is of course the great mountain top stage finish used frequently in the Tour de France. Sadly, we are only driving up, but on this chilly Saturday there are a few hundred cyclists putting themselves to the test, some will make it, some will not and others look like they do this every weekend.
Beaten

Beaten

Mont Ventoux conditions

Mont Ventoux conditions

Next time I will ride it

Next time I will ride it

I know if I jumped on my bike right now it would not be a pretty sight, but I am very envious of these guys – another reason to come back! The top is shrouded in fog which frightens the crap out of you when you are struggling to pass the wavering riders going up and then someone on descent shoots out of the fog at 50 kph.
Couldn't catch him

Couldn't catch him

At the top it is cold, but there are plenty of happy faces around. We don’t hang around long, and are soon coming down in the fog and being passed by cyclists. Also pass a Porsche rally on their way up.Porsche rally, Mont Ventoux

Porsche rally, Mont Ventoux


On we go, onto the motorways and shelling out more tolls to get across to Le Bar Sur Loup in the hills above Cannes. Getting to the right motorway turn off is easy, but getting further is difficult until we read our host’s directions properly. We arrive just in time to unload and jump in the pool – apart from L who is off to shop for dinner. When she is back we hop out to provide minimal assistance, and tuck into a great pasta dinner before watching “Asterix and Obelix” the English version. Great culture.

Posted by lostagain 04:47 Archived in France Comments (0)

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