On last year’s trip we struggled to get WIFI connection at all while I was doing the travelogue and inconsistent in-house internet connection. This year we have had WIFI connections everywhere we have stayed……..even last night which I discovered too late to get the login and password details to load the blog……..and I didn’t have too much confidence with the language difficulties between our host’s lack of any spoken English and my rudimentary French so didn’t bother to go down to get it. I took the notebook down to breakfast and got the login and password but every time I tried to do a second thing the connection dropped so gave up on it. Just goes to show how much things can change in a year!

The burbs in Arcachon from the hotel window on the way down to breakfast this morning

We headed off while the temperature was still comfortable and made a good mile. The traffic was intense again while we were on the main Motorway heading towards Paris but reduced a fair bit as we headed for Lyon and the scenery started to return to the lovely leafy green countryside and snapshot views of villages and church steeples and farm cottages intermingled with forests and farms. Initially the motorways seemed to just slice their way through towns and communities but once we were onto the country roads they seemed to wind their way through more gently and the towns and villages still seemed connected somehow and we felt intertwined with the incredible sights and scents and ambience of the road.

La Burge for lunch - looking across the water to the back of the church - a wall of water flowed over the wall behind the church and buildings and then continued on down the street - very quirky

Our lunch stop was at La Burge which was a beautiful little village, actually reasonably substantial as it turns out and the little Pub / Restaurant was doing a roaring trade. There was a lovely stream running through the town which was held back by a concrete wall behind the church as you will see below. Once we were back on the bikes the views and villages and everything which couldn’t become more spectacular just kept getting more so. What a day…..oh and the heat kept climbing as well. We saw a sign on a shop saying over 30 at some stage and it got hotter still.

First view of Chateau Beynac-Et-Cazenac. That’s the chapel top right hand side and the chateau rises up way beyond that and you can see part of it on the top left hand side. We were grateful of the cold drink from the little bar you can see across the road when we got down the hill

Next viewing stop was Beynac where we climbed to the top of the hill to the Chateau Beynac-Et-Cazenac which has been home to a series of Barons and their families since the 1100’s. The Chateau was solid and has been very grand in its day and is pretty well preserved but the views from here were like Ariel views and no matter where we looked they were incredible including the deepening autumn tones of the surrounding foliage which has been dropping like large confetti in wooded areas today.

Ariel type view from the roof of the Chateau

From there we headed to La Roque-Gugeac which was another spectacular village seemingly attached to the side of a great cliff face and even has massive caves visible above the village which have had stone walls built up to wall them off in centuries past. When we parked the bikes here there were a group of walkers admiring the bikes and Norm said ‘I’m sorry I only speak Australian’ to which the reply was ‘That’s okay mate so do we’. So, a group of Australians on a walking tour of the area and having a great time also.

Street scene La Roque-Gugeac

It was a short ride to Sarlat-La-Caneda where we are staying tonight and we gratefully had a cool shower after parking the bikes and walking some distance back to the hotel. No vehicle access to this part of town and the hotel is in a little lane up the side of the hill in the old village but we have sort of apartment type accommodation and there is a washing machine available. What a glorious thought (how sick is that!)

PS. You may remember I met up with a friend on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and this evening Sharen met a former work colleague and his wife at the washing machine in our hotel…….we all have the same Travel Agent so obviously a winning selection for this hotel since we (and I assume they also) had many options to choose from. Mind you the washing machine doesn’t have the same sense of romance as the Eiffel Tower but still, a massive coincidence you have to admit.

Bits and Bobs:

Couldn’t resist this on a building site in La Burge. We all know some project we have suspected that this contractor has been responsible for and now here is proof of where he actually operates from……..and he advertises the fact as well no less!

Last nights’ accommodation:

Villa Regina
11 Allee Corrigan
Arcachon France 33120

A budget accommodation choice. Recently refurbished room and reasonably basic but clean and had apartment type facilities e.g. hot plates, dishwasher, microwave and fridge which would have been handy if we had been here more than a night. Stately old building, lovely breakfast and also provided dinner but we didn’t know that and the host spoke no English so couldn’t learn anything other than our room number basically. Loved the pool! Also had a nice conservatory area. The biggest downer was the distance to the beach. A grand old building on its way back to being so.

The Vila Regina, our room faced the back overlooking the pool and the leafy suburb, very nice

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Well we were back on the road again today and I was thankfully feeling a little more rested as well as less like an invalid which was a welcome improvement. The temperature yesterday got to 32 degrees in San Sebastian so we expected a hot ride today and by the end of the day it was certainly that though I don’t know how hot it got (29 in Paris so would have been hotter here). I peeled off all the layers I could except for one because I didn’t want to arrive at our accommodation with only a bra under my jacket! I was grateful this was the first hotel we have stayed at that has a pool. As a matter of principle I jumped in and lowered the core body temperature to a tolerable level.

A beach view at Biarritz

The highlight for our day was our visit to Biarritz which was a spectacularly beautiful spot. The terrain was hilly around the beach which gave character to the beach areas and the promontories had rugged protrusions of rock thrust up out of the sand and ocean. The beaches were just beautiful and everywhere we went around the beach there were little vantage points and alcoves with seats where you could sit and contemplate every possible angle you could think of. The town was well maintained and the newer buildings didn’t detract from the old so planning has been effective. We could have gladly spent a couple of days here and I would even have enjoyed swimming at one of the little beaches we found as well as exploring the rock pools. We spent quite some time wandering about before we got back on the road.

Streetscape Biarritz showing a variety of differing building styles and eras

The countryside itself today after Biarritz was incredibly flat and featureless and reminded me of the flat conifer forested areas along the Brisbane to Sunshine Coast Freeway. We were on motorways nearly all day and roadwork’s and reduced speed limits for at least half that time. The road looked like it was probably one of the early motorways and was in the process of upgrade but was obviously a main freight route between France and Spain and we were blown away by the sheer volume of trucks on the road (mostly single drive and tri-axle trailers). If I had a dollar for every one I saw today I could have paid for this whole trip! For the first time ever my eyes were burning and streaming from the diesel fumes no doubt because of so much slow travel so it was good to get into Arcachon and the suburban streets.

A view to the main beach across the ancient marina with many small boats moored there still and close to sitting on the mud at low tide but protected from the ocean

Arcachon is a quirky place and we are basically in the ‘burbs’ in our hotel…well what were the burbs in the 1800’s when it was built. At that time it was referred to as the ‘Villa Regina of the Forest’ and has been a grand building surrounded by what looks like many expensive smaller villas which would have been wealthy seaside accommodation where over time the space has gradually been filled up with other houses though many still in keeping with the original designs. The hotel halls are lined with photographs of many of the villas when they were newly built. We wandered down to the Plage d’Arcachon (main beach) and had dinner before walking back as the sun set.

Another Biarritz street scape back down a lane to the Ocean which led up the hill to a lovely open paved area and many upmarket and well preserved buildings and stores

Bits and Bobs:

Heaps more people of ALL ages smoking in France than Spain…and BIG numbers in France.

Bread of all descriptions in France is beautiful……much more basic in Spain.

Motorbike parking in France is pretty much anywhere and literally on any street (as in footpath) you can find but in Spain they definitely have to be parked in a parking spot and saw one getting a ticket even though it was no hindrance to foot traffic.
Car parking also seems more stringent in Spain compared to what appears more haphazard in France. On our visit to Comillas Sharen and Ken parked in front of the municipal offices where there were no signs or indicators NOT to park but when they asked some locals sitting close by if it was allowable to park there their response was ‘you may like it, but the police WONT like it’. Needless to say they kept driving until they found a car park.

The Spanish Do not Disturb sign from the Hotel cracked me up!

Last nights’ accommodation:

Silken Amara Plaza
Plaza PIO XII, 7
San Sebastian Spain

The hotel is a lovely building beautifully maintained with many different places to eat and relax. The rooms are generous as well as the supplied toiletries. The restaurant meals were very nice and the included buffet breakfast delicious. The reception staff is exceedingly helpful including almost instantaneous response to plumbing problems in the night as well as delivering my parcel (riding glasses) when they arrived…. I think this has been the pick of the hotels so far as far as actual hotels go though our Apartment Hotel in Paris made it possible to live cheaply and was yummy as well.

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The Donostia title is the Basque name for San Sebastian. This is an ancient language native to the area and there is no memory or record of where it came from or how it developed. This northern area of Spain is part of the Basque region.

We have had a very slow paced day today which was welcome starting off with a sleep in and breakfast at 9.30am. It felt thoroughly scandalous after our disciplined beginnings thus far! We set out walking in the lovely leafy streets heading for a stop for the ‘Hop on hop off bus tour’ which we ultimately rode for the tour of the city.

Looking over Puerto de Santa Catalina (Bridge) then to Puerto de Zurriola (Bridge) on the Rio Urumea (River) to the ocean

The city covers around 70 square kilometres and has a population of approximately 180,000 (similar to Monash City in Melbourne) and yet the density of population is spread very differently here. There are massive areas of parkland which are beautiful and the population is housed in well laid out apartment blocks between 5 – 7 storeys high set around courtyards with lots of greenery and playground areas. The ground floors are taken up with commercial space and many small grocery and fresh food outlets, chemists and what reminds me of the old general stores we used to have in Australia i.e. some hardware, whitegoods and even clothing. There are many cafes and bars as well with tables spilling out into the streets and there is a lovely community feel to the place.

The streets are wide, well paved and leafy apart from the oldest parts of town which by European standards are not all that old as the town was all but razed to the ground in 1813 when the occupying French forces were expelled in disarray with the help of Portuguese and English troops. At that time of the original 646 houses, only 35 remained intact! Then in 1833 there was a massive fire when all Municipal records were lost. Mmmm. Makes one wonder that. Anyway it means that planning for comfortable living has been possible and the buildings are in very good shape in the majority of cases.

The Cathedral….Norm was relieved he was spared another ABC tour as it was all locked up

The beaches look good. The one on the actual shoreline was man made some years ago with a massive sea wall and imported sand and now there are world famous surfing competitions held here according to the tour guide. There were many people here lying about on the beach and some in the water whereas in the Bahia de La Concha (named after the shape of it as the shape of the Conch shell) had a wide sandy beach with what looked like hundreds of people walking one way or the other along the shoreline on the firm sand up to their ankles at most. Looked good and about as enthusiastic as I get at the beach these days. This bay was made popular by Queen Isabella when she built a palace and holidayed here making it a playground of the rich and famous and diplomatic corps of the time as such moves always do.

Bahia de La Concha

Once we got off the tour we opted for chilling for the afternoon so wandered through a couple of shops and had a cold drink and some tapas which were delicious before heading back to the hotel for a nap. Told you we were having a kick back day!

Bits and Bobs:

Millau Viaduct: The roadway level is higher than the Rialto Building in Melbourne!

Recovering: Yesterday was the first full day I have been able to hear everything since our ride into Gap! It sounded funny to all of a sudden be aware of the air noise in my helmet and to hear my bike properly again. The throat is also much more comfortable but I have developed a cough which sounds like I have been smoking for 100 years which as a non-smoker I resent. Thankfully it seems to be settling.

How freaky are these letter boxes at the main Post Office?

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The day has become hot and humid but the riding through great sweeping curves and hills on the motorways has been enjoyable. We also learnt why it has been so smoky the last few days. We had wondered if there were fires in the area but it is very green and that seemed unlikely but on the way out of Santander this morning we discovered some forested areas which had been logged in the process of burning off the refuse on the forest floor, so there you go. We wound our way back through alpine regions which looked for all the world like the Swiss Alps complete with the mountain chalets. Very quirky. We have also travelled through some terrific tunnels today and we are so impressed with the engineering of theses European Motorways tunnels and bridges,

We stopped off in Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim Museum. The town itself had some very nice buildings and public spaces but felt cramped and grubby in a lot of areas. The Museum on the other hand was a spectacular building to say the least. There are twenty separate galleries and it confirmed for me that I am not into Abstract or Modernistic art on the whole. There were a couple of pieces that I liked and would have liked to see the water garden with fire fountains active but it was undergoing some work. The reflections of the fire on the water and against the shining titanium exterior walls of the museum would have looked spectacular.

The Museum entry complete with an interesting piece of artwork – A Floral dog

We were gobsmacked at the end of our tour when we wanted to purchase a calendar to find they have postcards and calendars of their art but none of the building! Clearly they want people to buy one of their obscenely expensive books which I was too mean to do. Ah well, you get that! The building itself was exquisite. It had beautiful soaring spaces and changing shapes of marble, glass and steel on the inside and glass marble and titanium sheeting on the outside. It was apparently built to look like a ship in full sail on the river which on some angles probably does. My practical self-wonders about the cost and overall purpose, but I loved the space and feel of it.

Another piece of external Artwork and so able to be photographed guaranteed to freak out my girls....but having said that I wouldn’t like to walk past it closely myself!

From Bilbao we headed to St Sebastian and it was largely a hot though spectacular ride with momentary relief from the temperature on the shady sides of some of the mountainsides and we were glad to get into the hotel and have a welcome shower and just chill in the bar. The temperature is 27 degrees and the same is expected for tomorrow and then 28 the next day.

Bits and Bobs:

An observation of the universality of human kind. Traffic on motorways / large arterial roads close to and winding through cities / large towns definitely have more aggressive / impatient daily commuters than out on the motorways on the weekends. Found some really aggressive pushy sods today with flashing lights and the works to get us back into the lane after passing ….even though the speed limit had changed and at that stage we were 13kmh over the limit! Needless to say he disappeared from view like a rocket with my best compliments behind him…..well okay that was a bit of a stretch but I refrained from giving him the finger or throwing my hand in the air in a ‘what the’ manner so I did well.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Gran Hotel Victoria
Calle de Maria Luisa Pelayo 38
39005 Santander Spain

A lovely hotel just a building or two back from the beach but with a lovely view of the beach. Rooms’ nice, bike parking, staff helpful but not much English which is fair enough because we don’t have much Spanish but we all muddled our way through. A lovely relaxed atmosphere with big veranda and grassy areas outside with room to relax. Lots of hydrangeas and other ‘simple’ flowers in the gardens here as well as the public areas (canna lilies and begonias and the like). I’m particularly grateful to the young man who spoke better English than most there as he has arranged to send my riding glasses to the hotel we are currently at as I left them in the room. DUH! Finally figured out how come the sun was so glary this morning when we were really too far to go back and get them.

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Well we decided against another ABC tour and gave the cathedral a miss and instead headed off up the coast to explore some of the local villages and what a treat our day was. The motorway was full of big sweeping corners as was yesterday and the scenery was green and hilly or mountainous with random scatterings of villages seemingly everywhere we looked.

The first stop was in Comillas which was a beautiful old village remarkably well maintained given the age and we had lunch there after we toured through the Anton Gaudi designed house (El Caprichio de Gaudi) which was one of his first designs and it was beautiful, functional and quirky as we found his other houses we had visited in Barcelona a couple of years ago. Love this man’s work!

The Gaudi House – Yum!

From here we headed along the coast to the village of San Vicente de la Barquera where again we explored the ancient part of town occupying the high ground on a peninsula complete with a fortress, ruins of a hospital and what remains of a massive fortress and church. Incredible sight. There were several municipal buildings up there including a library and a couple of different police units (local and municipal….don’t know the difference).

The building at the top of the walkway from the lower village in San Vicente de la Barquera

From here Ken suggested we go a short distance to Potes which the hotel reception had said was worth a look and they were right but what they hadn’t said was that the journey to get there was unbelievably spectacular!

Soon after we left the coast we travelled through a little farmland then began winding our way up through canyon walls along the Deya River and let me tell you this would have to be one of the Great Motorbike Rides of the World!

The views were spectacular with soaring rock faces ever-changing in colour shape and form and each time we thought ‘it can’t get better than this’ it did! It felt like we were moving from one great cathedral to another for the whole journey and when the ever-changing rock views seemed exhausting we would ride through a beautiful leafy avenue and gain our breath. The trip was also interrupted with many little villages on the way most of which were impeccably maintained and clinging to the edge of the river or the canyon’s edge.

All in all a great afternoon and the town of Potes was just spectacular as well. What a treat. Mind you Ken has a little ground to gain with his estimation of what is actually a short distance but the endorphins we absorbed throughout the ride let him off the hook somewhat…not that we will let him know that of course. Ha ha.

A street scene in Potes complete with bikes on the footpath which led to conversations with a German girl who loved them and a Spanish family who were all excited about a daughter who wants to go to Australia and yes that is some of the Pyrenees Mountains in the background we had ridden through

Bits and Bobs:

Got a lot of toots and waves and thumbs up from passing motorists again the last few days on the road. I’m glad we put the sign on.

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We enjoyed the walk around Pau last night and discovered some lovely old buildings though a lot in a sorry state and now undergoing some refurbishment as well as a big project of the municipality in paving some streets and establishing foot traffic areas which show real promise around the old heart of the city including some lovely large public spaces with water features as well. They have their work ahead of them!

A view across to what was a palace on the river in Pau

The ride today was spectacular! The temperature remained a comfortable cool for riding for the majority of the day with hand grip warmers on low early in the day and didn’t need to remove the jacket lining until after lunch to be comfortable.

The views for the day started off in flat to rolling country with corn and grapes leading to leafy hills and this progressively changed to fewer crops and more grassy fields progressing to steeper more rugged and stony hills into the very inhospitable Pyrenees Mountains which depending on the altitude were well covered in foliage (sometimes eucalypts once we were in Spain) or sparsely covered. The foliage no matter where we looked today was a delight and looked to be dusted with gold or mulberry powder and every hue in between giving shape and form to so many different trees and shrubs and in some places we even began to get a bit of yellow confetti of early autumn leaves falling around us.

Once we got into Spain proper we started to see some magnificent views to the ocean as well as climbing up and around more mountain ranges. It seems surreal that we have moved from the Mediterranean to Atlantic Ocean in a matter of a couple of days. The Motorways have been awesome again today. They may be expensive but they get us the distance we want to go in the time we have.

A view across the beach and peninsular to the harbour in Santander

Santander was burnt to the ground pretty much in 1941 with massive bushfires and pretty much the only building surviving was the Cathedral which we might get to see tomorrow, though this was gutted, so has been rebuilt since then and is now a city of 183,000. It was a comfortable ride to our hotel and we were pleased it was on the side of the hill closest to the ocean as the area definitely looked more agreeable and we have lovely views of the ocean from our room and enjoyed a stroll down onto the peninsula and an ice-cream before we returned to the hotel.

Bits and Bobs:
Norm now has my cold bug and I’m driving myself silly with a dry irritating cough as well as a leaking tap for a nose….just delightful. NOT!

Last nights’ accommodation:

Best Western Intercontinental Hotel
2 Rue Marechal Foch
Pau France

A reasonable price and a lovely old building with beautiful old furniture and surrounds which has been well cared for though showing its age. We had a large refurbished room so they are gradually upgrading. The staff was friendly and helpful and the dinner we had at the restaurant was one of the best we have had in France.

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Breakfasted looking out over La Cite from the restaurant as we had at dinner last night and it truly is a fairy-tale view as you will see below. The old city was saved from demolition by the efforts of Victor Hugo and another author some years ago so now is literally a living monument to what an ancient walled city really was. Quite lovely.

La Cite – straight out of a fairy-tale

Been scattered showers today so wet weather gear on and a bit of road spray but managed to tramp around Lourdes without getting wet which was good. Didn’t know what to expect of Lourdes and the approach down a winding lane to the Basilica and the Grotto was jam packed with tourists, coaches and hundreds of tacky souvenir shops and was flat out full on hustle and bustle and I hated it but once we got into the grotto grounds and wandered around the basilica and grotto the pace and noise subsided and I enjoyed the quiet peacefulness of the surrounds which was amazing given the huge number of people. We lit a candle for family and friends past and present in St Bernadette's Chapel.

A view to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Headed to Pau independently and we arrived first only to get a call a bit later from Sharen and Ken to say their GPS refused to turn on and they were somewhere in Pau trying to find a hotel with someone at the desk so they can get a map and navigate their way here. Life continues to be a challenge! We might argue with and abuse the GPS units but we really are snookered without them.

Across the forecourt from the Basilica to the old fortifications of Lourdes

Pau is a large town, a lot of it looking pretty tired on the way in so we will have a wander and check it out before dinner. If I find anything picture worthy I will include it in tomorrow’s blog.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Des Trois Couronnes
2 Rue Des Trois Couronnes
Carcassonne France

A nice hotel with helpful friendly staff and a killer view across the river of the Ancient Walled City of Carcassonne (Le Cite’). Bed was comfortable and secure parking for the bikes so didn’t need to cover them which was good.

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Been a big day today and we headed off well before Sharen and Ken as we were on a mission to ride over the Millau Viaduct on our way to Carcassonne and they took the shorter more direct route. The early morning pink light gave a beautifully soft view to all we saw as we wound our way through many ancient villages and communities. We had croissants and apricot juice for breakfast at Montpezat to the amusement of the local kids on their way to school then lunch at an alpine chalet.

One of a string of viaducts which snaked around the valleys out of Nimes

Once we heard about the Millau Viaduct it became a ‘must experience’ on our list even if it did mean an extra 180 kms and 3 hours on our trip. We were not disappointed. We had a very challenging ride there some compliments of the GPS sending us on shortcuts which were a bit hairy and one we turned back on and in frustration tried to put the address of the Viaduct in the GPS which wouldn’t recognise it so finally entered it as a landmark only to discover that means you can look AT the landmark rather than ride ON the landmark! Ah well, we wouldn’t have gone to the base of it by choice but it was awesome and we are glad we did as the view was incredible.

Under the Millau Viaduct

With some perseverance we loved the ride over the viaduct but the ride to it was equally spectacular…in fact all kinds of spectacular with ever-changing countryside from olive groves, grape vines and farming to precipitous valleys and bare rock faced canyons. Incredibly beautiful!

On the Millau Viaduct

Nothing other than an Ariel shot could do the Viaduct justice so have added it below with some other statistics from Wikipedia so you can explore it further. Check it out it is just AWESOME and a must if you get to ride a bike in this region!

Problems with traffic on the route from Paris to Spain along the stretch passing through the valley near the town of Millau, especially during the summer when the truck traffic combined with holiday makers and gridlocked the local villages. The first plans were discussed in 1987 including 4 possible motorway alternatives and by October 1991 the decision was made to build a high crossing of the Tarn River between two limestone plateaus. After much activity the jury decided in favor of a cable-stayed design with multiple spans, the rest as they say is history.

The Millau Viaduct (compliments of Wikipedia as are the statistics below)

• 2,460 m: total length of the roadway
• 7: piers
• 77 m: Pier 7, the shortest
• 343 m: Pier 2, the tallest (245 m at the roadway's level)
• 87 m: height of a mast
• 154: number of shrouds
• 270 m: average height of the roadway
• 4.20 m: thickness of the roadway
• 32.05 m: width of the roadway
• 85,000 m3 : total volume of concrete used
• 290,000 metric tons: total weight of the bridge
• 10,000–25,000 vehicles: estimated daily traffic
• €6.00–7.50: typical automobile toll, as of December 2009
• 20 k : horizontal radius of curvature of the road deck


Last nights’ accommodation:

Bristol Hotel
44 Cours Jean Jaures
Avignon France

A really quirky building (actually a joining / grouping of several I suspect) in a really quaint little town within the walled city of Avignon known as the city of Popes from centuries ago. The place has many differing floor levels on the same floor level…if that makes sense. Bike and car parking under the hotel behind old timber doors we assume used to be stables.

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Decided to lie in bed for an extra half an hour to give the old body a bit more recovery time then headed off to explore the Palais Des Papes (The Palace of the Popes) which was pretty impressive and discovered among other things that nine Popes resided here prior to the seat of power of the Catholic Church being moved to Rome following political involvement of the Church which wasn’t welcomed by the then King Louis VIII. We had a coffee in a little coffee shop in a tower overlooking the outer surrounds of Avignon then headed for the Pont D’Avignon.

First view of the Palace of the Popes when we entered through the gates

The view of the old city was quite spectacular from the Pont D’Avignon which was a bridge initially constructed 1177 – 1185 only to have a third of it destroyed by Louis VIII in 1226 then in 1633 reconstruction was abandoned. In any case it is quite a spectacular structure and gives a beautiful view across the Rhone River which was once tidal but now has a series of 26 dams and or locks.

The Pont D’Avignon

We were supposed to do a round trip today through several villages and see some other sights but I was still not in great shape and we have a big ride lined up tomorrow so we piled into the car with Sharen and Ken to visit Arles this afternoon and I did the blog in the car then had a nap while the other three did a bit of exploring. The trip there and back was very picturesque through many olive groves, market gardens and rugged stony canyons but the town seemed very tired. The troops were surprised to discover a Roman Amphitheatre in the process of refurbishment for the princely sum of 45 million Euros. Unbelievable.

Part of the Roman Amphitheatre with old and refurbished stonework visible - Arles

Bits and Bobs:

We are glad to have survived the ‘French Riviera road experience’ in one unscratched, scraped or dinged up piece. After reading much on the area this is apparently a rare occurrence and one we were grateful of. We certainly came across plenty of crazies, but the majority of people were patient and didn’t want to be scratched, scraped or dinged up either. Needless to say there were plenty of suicide jockeys around….particularly on motor scooters but we even managed to avoid them..…not to mention the fast reversing cars and vans up one way streets they weren’t allowed to enter. Kept us on our toes. Actually it has been weird to hear so few motor scooters in Avignon after the predominance of them everywhere to this point; they have obviously been the ‘daily commute’ for people from larger towns where more were obviously walking to and from work today in Avignon.

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Well the waterproof and padded lining didn’t stay in the jacket for long tody before I ditched it and had a much more comfortable ride. I was feeling a bit under par today with a bit of a cold bug so the day felt big by the time we got into Avignon this evening.

Our journey started with a ride down the coast to Cannes with a stop off at the ancient walled village of Antibes which was a delight. We wandered around there then had a coffee before we headed off to Cannes which in comparison was another version perhaps of Noosa at home. A lot of very nice real estate without the tackiness of the Gold Coast. We had a nice lunch at Cannes before we headed for Avignon.

A view of Antibes with a couple of motorbikes parked up. So much easier to find a spot to park a bike than a car

The traffic on the motorways (and there was lots) flowed well and most other vehicles weren’t all that scary though I generally felt safer around the trucks as they were much better behaved and predictable than the cars. We saw some spectacular vistas of rugged mountain ranges today including a bare red stone range which would have looked quite at home in the Arizona desert.
The surrounds have gone from many olive groves and Spanish or Italian looking stone houses with terracotta rooves and has retuned now to more leafy surroundings. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

A view across the harbour at Cannes. Big numbers of luxury cruisers and yachts in evidence here. Check out all the vapour trails. We saw a lot of planes landing and taking off from Nice

Last nights’ accommodation:

Hotel Beau Rivage
24 Rue St Francois de Paule
06300 Nice France

A nicely appointed hotel just one street from the beach and a short stroll to the old part of the town and hundreds of dining options. Considering the traffic (foot and vehicular) it was reasonably quiet. Motorbike parking outside the front of the hotel and access to public parking a couple of blocks away.

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