Posted by: Zombi | June 17, 2010

Day 14 Chabeuil – Orange

Glorious morning sun washed all over me with a warmth normally reserved for a new mother and child. As I stepped out of the tent, flowers sung with the fresh aroma of new life and the birds chirped and whistled like … erm… an old steam train? The boulanger drove up and dropped two warm pain au chocolates in my welcoming hands. They were so fresh the chocolate had still not re-set.

Clearly none of that did happen but I’ve got sick of saying it chucked it down.

Packed up and on my way I was grateful of the long gradual climb I had the evening before. This morning I was treated to a long down hill before arriving in a small town ready for breakfast. Now this wasn’t some quaint little French village, it was the French version of Leyland. It was the sort of place you only go to to get out of. A truckers haven. It did however, unlike pretty much every other French village I have passed through, have somewhere open.

As I popped my head through the door of the bar (not literally, that would have been a quite odd entrance…) a rather portly Frenchman was just settling himself down at the bar with a baguette under his arm. I noticed him, partly due to the baguette and partly because he looked like one of those cartoon bears on tv that have an afro. Blonde curley hair was everywhere. The plughole in his shower must have been matted… I digress.

I asked Yogi and the barman if there was a boulangerie nearby at which point they both grinned and pointed at the only other person in the bar, a middle aged lady over in the corner with a baguette in one hand, kneeding dough with the other all the while stoking her bakers oven with her left foot.

Pleased, I requested a sandwich that I would take away in the likelyhood I wouldn’t see another shop open all day. Two minutes later she was back, I paid and relieved, went for the door. I was relieved because, due to limited French, the inevitable conversation struck up whilst waiting in shops never goes very far. They ask me where I am going, I tell them, they are surprised, although a little less each day, then we look awkwardly as they struggle to think of what to say next to a man with a beard, dripping wet dressed in Lycra. In all honesty, I sympathise with their predicament. Next time I’m asked I’m going to tell them I’m just waiting for the next bus…

Anyway, as I reached for the door with my sandwich pocketed, the barman called me back. It turned out Yogi wanted me to go back to his house to eat my sandwich… I think that’s war he meant, you sometimes lose bits in translation… Politely I declined but thanked him and confirmed normally I would love to go to his house to eat my sandwich, which seemed to make him especially pleased, but this time I had a long way to go and didn’t want to get there too late on because I was in a tent and didn’t want to have problems getting it up, at this he seemed dissapointed but wished me good luck, even offering me help with my tent if I recall correctly. What a nice chap.

Back in the saddle the morning passed quite quickly and with every mile the weather seemed to get that bit better. By early afternoon, for the first time since I have been in France I ended up with blazing sun and how wonderful it was. The weather coincided with the route becoming more interesting. The road started heading for the sky and before I knew it I was in some lovely villages right in the hillside and it really felt like I was abroad.

Lunch was spent at a small cafe in one of the villages, chatting to two Belgians who had cycled down from Paris. Now they were staying in hotels which greatly reduced what they had to carry but they were both on roadbikes with 12 (twelve) litre rucksacks and they thought they had too much stuff. To put that in to context, I probably have about 120 litres and compared to other people I have seen I don’t have a lot!

The hills came and went and tired but pleased I arrived in Mondragon which was the planned end of my route for the day. After a quick search for campsites it turned out the most appropriate one was another 7-8 miles south in Orange. This was ideal as it was less than half a mile off tomorrows route!

All in all I covered about 75 miles again today and the weather made a big difference. Hopefully I will have another good day or two before the last two days on the cote d’azur where the rain is meant to be back.

This evening I had a decent meal for a change in the centre of Orance and watched France effectively get knocked out of the world cup. There is a complete difference between how the French watch football to how the English watch it (and I don’t mean the incorrect steriotype of the English thug). The French just don’t seem that bothered in general. Maybe they are not good or used to losing but when each Mexican goal went in there were just laughs and Gallic shrugs (no not the wool things that go over your shoulders). The biggest cheers were when the camera showed French manager Raymond Dominich (sp?). They were ironic cheers as he is thought of as a clown across the whole country. I’m surprised he has lasted so long to be honest.

The ride home was nice enough but the first time in a lot of miles riding an unloaded bike. You have to be really careful as it is like going from a bus to an F1 car. It will take a bit of getting used to when I get back and am on my fast bike (can’t wait!).

Talking of lots of miles I will leave, or start as I don’t quite know how it comes up, with a couple of pictures, initially my latest big milestone. About 5 miles before reaching the campsite I passed the 1000 mile mark, and secondly, I think I have found why my tent leaks a little. I knew I should have brought the instructions…

Thanks for reading.



  1. am getting quite ‘hooked’ on your blog ! In fairness to we watchers you should cycle back to Bradford, then we would be entertained for much longer.
    You might like to know that my ex partner from work departed (Thursday) for Nice for sun and sea, and with your experience in mind, just wondered whether he will be delighted with the weather in Nice.
    Left Helen yesterday in quite good spirit – much recovered, and although not quite A1 – is getting there in leaps and bounds and very much looking forward to seeing your safe return – as are we all. You have accomplished a huge task, and think the world ought to know about it !
    Take care on the last leg, and hope the return British transport system will be faster than Ben on wheels.
    Cheerio for now
    Joan and Iain

  2. p,s. did you see the Algeria England game ?
    Wowee, and phew !

    I might volunteer my services for the next one !
    are you up for it too ?

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