Santé !!

I’m back home now, after an easy drive, thanks to Google Maps diverting me via the M4 & M5 to avoid a long delay on the M3.

My ‘bonus post’ is one I saved from Monday: one of my close neighbours in Topsham asked me if I’d pick up some Crémant de Die (it’s their version of champagne, but at a fraction of the price), and the twelve bottles have made it back with me today. They are from a vineyard I cycle through very very frequently, on the Route de Barsac (the lovely back road parallel to the D93 near Pontaix & Vercheny), and this time I met the grandson, Jérôme Vincent, of the vineyard’s founder. He gave me a very interesting guided tour of the vines and where the wines are made, all rebuilt after the farm was burned down by the Nazis in 1944.

It’s certainly a pretty spot: a natural sun trap, and overlooked by the unmistakable Trois Becs!

I’m not sure when I’ll be back in Romeyer next – for obvious reasons, everything is a little complicated at the moment, and the ease of movement of a couple of years ago is but a memory! In the meantime, this blog will hibernate for a bit, but I’ll keep the chat going with my (now 2800) Facebook Page followers, who seem to like photos of Devon too, as well as recaps of things diois!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos and commentaries this summer – let’s hope it’s not too long before I’ll be able to bring you some more!!

la rentrée…

I left Romeyer yesterday: it was an easy (if long) drive via Vercors (to avoid Lyon) to my overnight stop in Laon. And now I’m waiting to board my 11.20 Shuttle to Folkestone, followed by the 250-mile drive the Topsham. The Eurotunnel check-in couldn’t have been easier (health documents having been uploaded last night). You’ll not be surprised that it’s not very busy.

I’ll have one last bonus post once I get home!

Font d’Urle walk

A corker of a last full day, weather-wise, so it was an easy choice: a walk at Font d’Urle. For one thing, it was easier on the tired legs than a cycle ride, and secondly, I’d never seen the cliffs there close up, and it’s something I’d not be able to replicate in the least in Devon.

The beauty of the walk is that you start at 1400m at the parking at Col de la Chau, and the highest point is just 1600m or so, so after the initial gentle rise, it’s more or less a flat walk, of just three hours. And what a three hours it is! Probably easiest just to let you see the photos – even they don’t come close to giving you any idea of the scale of the scenery! Limestone doesn’t half create some beautiful and impressive scenery!!

Last long(ish) ride of the summer

Tomorrow’s my last full day here, so it’s going to be house stuff in the morning, then I’ll decide what else after that. Walk or ride? Not sure, but not too much of anything, as there will be plenty to think about on Tuesday.

Anyway, I set out this morning on a flexible version of the Drômoise 147km route – flexible, as it’s a distinctly hilly route (four big ups & downs) over a long distance, and my legs are a little tired. In the end I did 118km (73 miles), with adaptations at the beginning and the end. With a strong headwind as I headed back from Luc, I was very glad I had chosen to miss out the last two cols even further south east!

The real pleasure of the day was re-riding the road between St Nazaire and la Motte-Chalancon. Although it actually has four real cols, only one of them really counts, as the other three are crossed laterally, and the road stays on the valley sides in between. But it’s a distinctly pretty road, with the bonus of a pretty village, Volvent, near the highest of the four cols.

la Drômoise – Vercors

The local sportive is extending its activities this year, both southwards, into the Baronnies, but also north, into Vercors, on the Saturday. One of the routes is my standard 55-mile la Chapelle loop (although in my less-favoured clockwise direction), so with the weather getting unpredictable this afternoon, it seemed like an ideal time to ride it. As lovely as ever, even if the sun was a little elusive!

Châtillon & Mensac

I’m not sure if I’ve ever referred to Mensac on this blog. Châtillon, of course, I’ve featured several times, but Mensac is a tiny commune near Châtillon, whose main noticeable feature is a very busy sawmill right by the road. You only go through Mensac if you decide to take the diversion, and then you don’t see the settlement of houses at all.

Last time I passed by, I glanced into the group of houses, and it looked interesting enough to warrant a perusal at some stage. Today was the day, and I’m glad I did have a look. Nothing there apart from some pretty houses and a lavoir, and doubly pleasurable as I suspect virtually no-one ever looks in, given the fame and draw of nearby Châtillon. They are missing something rather lovely, in its very modest way.

A bits-&-pieces day

There’s no way that I could follow yesterday’s Jocou walk with an equivalent experience… I’ve been enjoying just reliving it in pictures, still grinning. Anyway, today was the day the new cooker was arriving and being fitted, so I had to work around their timings.

A helpful text narrowed it down to around noon, so a quick spin down to Die to get a new gas regulator to go with the new gas hose was successful (with a few photos taken en route). The help chaps arrived a few minutes early, and in no time at all, the cooker was fitted, plumbed & wired in, tested, instructions given, and job done!

With sun lingering after lunch, I decided to do my regular circuit up the Quint Valley, and grabbed a few more photos. A quite different, but very satisfying day. And full marks to Darty for the cooker, from start to finish!

le Jocou walk

I’ve had in mind a few places to walk this summer, using the car to get to the starting points, and one of them was le Jocou, a 2045m summit between the cols de Menée and de Grimone. You can walk to it from either col, with the benefit, or course, of much reduced ascent/descent, and having found an interesting circuit from Col de Grimone in one of my walking books, that was what I did today. I’d not done it earlier in the holiday, as there’s no shade for a long part of the walk, so had waited for just the right weather: not too hot, not too windy, but plenty of sunshine to put a spring in the step. Today was definitely the day: the forecast looked good, reliable, and it was so!

The walk itself is simple: up to the Jocou ridge, follow it, and the amazing views in all directions along to the Col de Seysse (there’s a steep but not ‘airy’ descent, which gets a lot of the descending out of the way in one go), and then a gentle descent from the Col de Seysse along the side of the valley below Jocou, with a quite extraordinary panorama in the rear view mirror. Once you reach the woods at the end of the valley, it’s but a skip down to the starting point, with a nice few kilometres where you can stride out.

I took too many photos, in my wonderment, so I’ll try to pick the best. If you know your mountain ranges, you might recognise Vercors, Trois Becs, Dévoluy, Ecrins, the High Alps, Chartreuse, even Mont Ventoux. ‘Breathtaking’ doesn’t come close.

More mundanely, I’ll be looking forward to a new cooker arriving tomorrow, but it’ll be a nice opportunity not only to give the legs and lungs a bit of a rest, but also to reflect on what I’ve experienced today.

More villages

I’d seen a photo of Pont-de-Barret in a Facebook Group, and it looked intriguing: I’ve only once cycled through the village, and must admit I’d not really paid any attention to it! Anyway, it seemed like a good gap to fill in in my knowledge. Having plotted my route (possibly thinking about my favourite bakery at Blacons), I knew I had to head down to Manas, and turn left there, to get to my target village. Little did I realise that Manas itself was well worth a stop too! And I don’t know how it happened, but I seemed to stop at the bakery on the way back too… oops!

Cloud cap bonus

It’s not unusual to see a cloud cap on Vercors, but I think tonight’s takes the biscuit. Apparently north west of Vercors has been cloudy all day, while we’ve had unbroken sunshine. Anyway, when I saw this earlier this evening, I jumped in the car, so as not to miss it, from the vantage point of les Planeaux. Ample reward. Truly amazing.