I regularly state that I have no urge to travel outside of Italy during our six months stay here each summer because there are so many areas of Italy that I have yet to discover. We recently spent ten days in Sicily which we thoroughly enjoyed, but I broke my pledge to stay in Italy after my husband and friends talked me into heading up to France for a cycling trip. We have good friends who live in Provence, and they have been inviting us up to visit for the past few years, but we never could find the time. This year we didn’t take any bookings until August, so we had a few free months to travel and up to France we went.
There were four avid cyclists on the trip, along my friend Michelle and I who prefer to explore by car rather than by bike. During the beginning of our trip, the four cyclists tackled the most challenging climbs in Provence, including Mount Ventoux. My husband in fact, climbed all three routes to the top in one day, making it possible for him to join the CLUB DES CINGLÉS DU MONT-VENTOUX (or Crazy cyclist club). Mont Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race, which has ascended the mountain fifteen times since 1951. So, for my husband and his friends, it was a obstacle they felt they had to tackle. Luckily all made it back home safely.
While the crazy cyclists were out climbing mountains, my friend Michelle and I explored Provence. I had never been to that region of France before, and I must say it was love at first sight. Michelle was an excellent tour guide, and we filled our days with markets in Apt and L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the red cliffs of Roussillon, the stunning views of Gordes, and the bustling city of Avignon. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Michelle and Jean’s wonderful home in Provence, shared many stories with our cycling mountain climbers every evening, and feasted on good food and wine. After five nights in Provence, it was time to tackle the French Alps.
I had visited the Italian Alps a number of times but had never been to the French side which I found both similar and yet very different. The views were awe inspiring, the chalet-type homes very similar to the Italian side, yet the food was very French, with a mountain influence. Our cyclists tackled mountain after mountain through the French Alps while Michelle and I found quaint villages to explore, museums to visit, and yet more markets to stroll through. We met up with our crazy cyclists from time to time during the day as we traveled through the Alps, but we all stayed in the same hotels each night and enjoyed dinner together. I found driving up and down the mountains quite terrifying at times as the roads are very narrow, and there are no shoulders or barriers to prevent you from falling off the cliff! I rarely looked down while driving, and had to stop to truly enjoy the view from time to time. (As well as to rest my shaking legs!) I am amazed at how well our cyclists did, especially Susan, the lone woman cyclist in the group who tackled every climb with determination and focus. The cyclists all finished our trip injury free, and very proud of their accomplishments. I enjoyed France far more than I expected to, being an authentic Italian snob, and brought home a cooler full of amazing cheese and cured meats to enjoy here in Italy.
View From Our Friend’s Home In Provence
Walking Through The Small Village of Goult in Provence
Meal With The Cyclists After A Hard Morning Of Riding
Market Day in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
The Red Rock Village of Rousillon
And up to the Alps we go! Typical roads the cyclists road on and I drove.
Our first day in the Alps!
Visiting the Museum of le Grande Chartreuse
Lots of snow and ice at the top!
My husband cycling up the mountain.
The last climb (mountain route) was just opened last week! We even passed by folks skiing!
Even Zoe enjoyed her Alpine adventure!