Today`s leg led us from Le Pouzin to Lapalud – thanks to our lovely host in Le Pouzin, Dominic, we had a really gorgeous stage. As we have mentioned in an earlier post we sometimes have a bit of a challenge to identify the route of ViaRhona and this was the case in Le Pouzin as well. A little drawn back from the traffic on the main street which we understood would lead us to ViaRhona for many kilometers, we decided to go an alternative route all together and use the opposite side of the Rhone. When Dominic (who does not speak any English but was very helpful and patient communication with us nonetheless) asked us which route we had planned for the day he was not happy with our idea. “No, no, no – not a good idea! Too much traffic on the other side of the river. Why would we not simply follow the street we were in, take the tunnel under the railway and then left and Voilá: we would be on ViaRhona!” Olli, who is in charge of planning the stages gave it a very brief thought and off we went following Dominic`s description – and that was the right decision for sure.
It turned out to be the most beautiful stage on ViaRhona so far – quiet, excellently developed and we went up all those gorgeous 5 little bridges over Rhone and its side-arms. We crossed the river over a dam and experienced an old bridge which only bore space for a single car whenever reaching one of its 3 bridge pilars – we talk about a street with two-way traffic of course. It does discipline pretty much automatically… there is not much traffic on the bridge and those using it take velocity not too seriously…
Our favourite bridge on the other hand was the rope bridge! No – you did not mis-read: I mean it – ROPE BRIDGE!! We already were over the moon when we saw Chateau Rochemaure which started to spread out across the hill. Despite of slightly falling apart the castle is remarkable and impresses both by its location on top of bare rocks and its size. But when we turned our back to the castle we found ourselves in front of a really old little bridge – and on this bridge no car would fit! In between the century old bridge piers a rope bridge made of steel had been installed for bicycles and pedestrians – ingenius! It is an amazing experience to cross the bridge. You pass the stone pier and feel you cycle into… nothing… Below you are light metall plates and left and right there are steel meshes with a steel rope as handle on top. And then you let go and the bike rolles on, while you concentrate on the next pier in a somehow perplex state of mind before approaching the final pier at the other end. Some 200 meters of the most phantastic marriage of old and modern architecture. This bridge is worth a visit!
We have been delighted as well about peoples’ friendliness in this region. We have been asked twice if we were lost and offered help in the most patient way possible – simply lovely! And I admit that I enjoy it when we are greeted with enthusiasm by fellow cyclists. While the “Bon Jour” in Alsace and Franche-Comte is rather aspirated it will be belt out in this region – very nice!!
The upcoming (head-) wind then announced that the weather forecast (we use: http://www.yr.no – the best ones we have found) was unfortunately very accurate and a massive rain front was closing up on us. So we cycled as fast as possible and managed to reach the Gite (french for Bed & Breakfast) with the first drops of rain and thunder. This night we stay and dine on a bio-farm, which again is located in a beautiful old farmhouse which has been renovated with an obvious love for detail. [www.ferme-terrebioprovence.com].
We assume that the next 2 days we will cycle in permanent rain – let`s see what we will have to report of that experience 🙂
So it’s Bye Bye from us for now – Bye Bye!
Claudia & Olli