Wednesday, 16 September 2009
VIVE LA BELLE PROVENCE
What a pleasant surprise. My friend, Bill, had organised a week's cycling based in Avignon. It seemed a long way to go, especially when pondering putting the bikes on a plane or driving. Bill, however, had a good plan. We simply caught a Eurostar train at St Pancras and 5.5 hours later we were in the centre of Avignon.
We quickly discovered that Provence is a cyclist's delight. Within 20 minutes of leaving Avignon, we found our first unspoilt French village. Life here seems timeless. There are markets everywhere, older people play boules, younger check out their motor bikes and, out in the country while we were there, the grapes were being gathered in for wine making.
Cycling enables you to see life more closely than in a car. The advantage of Provence is that there are lots of quiet roads with minimal hills or you can pretend to be a Tour de France rider by climbing Mont Ventoux. What is more, the sun just kept shining. We covered 235 miles in 5 days, mainly siteseeing and using Avignon as our base.