I have to admit to being rather tired last night. Yesterday’s cycle took us onto one of the roads that turns left just before the end of the Veloroute du Calavon and it felt as if we spent most of our time going up hill.
To start this ride we turned off the Veloroute immediately after the restaurant ‘Le Fabuleuz’ just beyond Apt and took the road signed towards Viens.
This is a lovely road that gently climbs for 12 km to the pretty village of Viens. The climb isn’t particularly steep, but it’s constant and just keeps going, past lavender fields & the towers of Caseneuve.
The road finally levels off as you cycle down to the tower that marks the entrance gateway to the narrow streets of the old village.
Viens is worth a visit, with its beautiful buildings and incredible views towards the Montagne du Lure and beyond. The streets are rarely busy & there’s a nice café & Pizzeria by the main gateway, so there’s somewhere to take a rest.
Today though we didn’t stop and instead headed down the road that leads from the village towards the Gorges D’Oppedette, which sits in the valley that runs between Viens and Simiane La Rotonde in the Alpes de Haute Provence.
I must admit I wasn’t too impressed to see that all our climbing was quickly wiped out as we dropped down a steep (15%) lane at the back of Viens, but it was worth it as we started to climb gently again along a small road running alongside the Gorges D’Oppedette.
The roads here were quiet and to be honest at time it felt as if we were on a cycle trail, with the only other people we saw being walkers, exploring all the paths through the Gorges. Certainly we had left traffic behind, which is just a wonderful experience.
We had a brief stop by the old lavoir in the village of Oppedette, before heading out of the village, past the end of the Gorges and on (uphill again) towards Simiane La Rotonde.
Even though again the road was pretty much uphill all the way, it was a lovely road to cycle, again we saw no cars on the way as we climbed through oak and chestnut woodland (chestnut leaves that are used to wrap the wonderful goats’ cheeses from the nearby village of Banon) finally emerging on a junction looking across a high plain towards Simiane La Rotonde. My hubby had said that it reminded him of Gordes, but also the village out of the Lord of the Rings films & from a distance I could understand why.
As we cycled across the plain towards the village we passed through lavender fields that were just bursting into flower – the first I have seen this season and a sight that just made me smile with the thought of how the landscape will turn purple over the coming weeks, filling the air with scent
The village sits on the side of a hill, with steep streets leading up to the top, from where there are incredible views across towards the low Alps. It really is a beautiful place with a gentle feel to it, somewhere I will certainly return to in the future.
After a cooling drink we headed back towards Viens along a main (but very quiet road) before turning to follow a lane that runs along the contours of the hills arriving in the village at a viewpoint with spectacular views across the valley towards Forcalquier & beyond.
Here we met up again with our 15 year old who had powered on ahead & simply left us (or more me) for dead on the climbs – oh what a joy it would be to have young legs again!!
The climbing is worth it though, not just for the enjoyment of the quiet roads, or the views – but also for the relaxing, swishy 12km downhill back down to the cycle track at the junction where we had first turned off.
The total cycle was just under 30 miles, but we had climbed nearly 1000 metres, so once home I enjoyed a glass (perhaps 2) of local rosé & found myself falling asleep on the sofa by 9.30!
Today though we just pottered on the bikes to Roussillon for a cup of coffee in the square, just to keep our legs turning as we hope to head up to Sault tomorrow – That will be another big climb, but it’s market day there so an additional incentive for me to get up the hills!