Back in Devon…

Back in Devon, with a welcome of grey skies, wind and heavy rain, and a few moments to reflect on the week or so in France. It certainly was interesting for me, being the first time I’d been there since 2012, and that time the focus was it not only being my first time in the area, it was also my first time on a foreign bike jaunt. Not unsurprisingly, the focus was on the cycling, the companionship, and not getting lost.

This time it was about visiting and taking my mum to places that I either already knew well, or had never been to before (or not been to in late May/early June). Places I knew well already: Combe Laval, Vallon de Combeau, and Col de la Machine – these are all “wow” places, and they didn’t disappoint (either of us). A new place for me was Vallon de la Jarjatte – and that was a new “wow” for me, and I’d like to go back there with walking boots. There were also pleasures just in trundling round (in the car) familiar cycle routes, and being surrounded by the beautiful scenes – enhanced by the (mostly) excellent weather. (Incidentally, I had ordered a “Fiat 500, or similar” for the hire car, but ended up with a hybrid Lexus – I’m not a car lover, and definitely not a lover of modern cars, but, despite it being the most electronic- and button-reliant car I have ever driven, I quite liked the experience, in a slightly surreal way. I still prefer bikes, of course!)

I did manage the odd early evening or early morning spin on the bike – and of course each one of those reminded my of the joys of cycling round here. This time I didn’t go up col de Rousset – partly because it was in the process of being resurfaced, and there was still some loose surface ‘gravel’. (Don’t worry, cyclists – it’s not the energy- & speed-sapping ‘boulder’ variety, more of a grippy sort, to keep traction!) I noticed far more cyclists around than I’m used to – maybe because most cyclists avoid the cooler and hotter times when I’m normally here!

One big delight was the display of flowers: I’m not a botanist, and can’t remember flower names; I also am never sure whether I’m looking at a very common weed or a very rare flower. However, you’ll have worked out I got quite a lot of pleasure of photographing the abundant specimens in the area. I have done ‘roadside flower’ blog posts here before, but the amazing variety of species at this time of year is spectacular, even by the roadside, if you can go slowly and keep your eyes peeled. I’m sure we’d have seen even more if we’d ventured futher afield.

Anyway, I’ll leave you for now with a vaguely random selection of photos from the stay, including an end-of-storm deluge which gave me an evening off having to water my neighbour’s hanging baskets. I’ll be back in France at the end of July, when cycling will be very much back on the menu.

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Vallon de la Jarjatte

Another car outing, this time to Lus-la-croix-haute and Vallon de la Jarjatte – I’ve not ridden there as it’s a long dead-end road, but it’s very definitely worth a visit: still in the Drôme département, but the mountains in the craggy Dévoluy mould.

There were thunderstorms possible in the forecast, but the sun (mostly) shone on us until we got home. The last photo is actually from col de la haute Beaume, on our way home.

There were yet more flowers on display here, which will get their own post.

Aucelon flowers

Yesterday’s outing was a trundle over col de Pennes towards Aucelon: on the southern side of the col is Pennes le sec, which gives a clue to the dryness of the terrain. I hadn’t planned to stop and snap the roadside flowers, but the variety of different plants on display stopped us in our tracks. There’s one interloper from a cool, shady, damp corner.