Friday, 20 June 2014

Such A Perfect Day

Yesterday was the sort of day that Lou Reed was thinking about when he wrote that song. The sun finally decided to return to Bonnieux so we were up at the crack of dawn and ready to depart on our final cycling trip of the holiday. The air was still fresh as we headed out from the villa so Marion wore a cardigan for the first part of the journey as we headed downhill to Lacoste.

We're quite fit after so much cycling so we even rode some of the way under our own steam with the power switched off. We stopped for a well earned breakfast at a bistro in the tiny hamlet of St Pantaleon. Cycling means that pain au chocolat - the perfect French breakfast -is not off limits.

From St Pantaleon we headed to Gordes. Clinging to the mountainside, Gordes has to be the most spectacular town in Provence and consequently it's spectacularly busy so, apart from the customary photo courtesy of some Chinese tourists, we gave it a miss. 

We did, however, find the near deserted historic village of bories (dry stone dwellings) nearby. This is a fascinating historic site and well worth the 3.5km detour.

From Gordes we took a steep climb towards the famous and spectacular Abbaye de Senanque. Even with electric bikes this was a difficult ascent. Conventional cyclists were barely inching up the road and it was fun to pass these bent double and super fit but struggling athletes sitting upright as if on a trip to the shops and giving them a friendly wave and a few words of explanation in French "Nos velos sont electrique mais nous avons soixante ans".

The ride down from the summit towards the abbey was incredible - even using both brakes we were travelling at dangerous speeds. The abbey has famous lavender fields in front of it but we could see that the lavender wasn't in bloom yet and there were a couple of coaches outside so we gave it a miss and took another steep climb to Murs. By now it was time for lunch but Murs looked pretty deserted and the only restaurant was empty so we decided to journey on and look for somewhere en route.

What a great decision that was as, about fifteen minutes later we saw a sign to Le Mas Des Herbes Blanches together with five stars and a Relais & Chateau sign. Although a little dusty from our cycling we were welcomed into the beautiful restaurant with panoramic views across the Luberon and enjoyed a delicious three course meal with fantastic service. We only paid twenty or thirty euros more than we've been paying for our usual lunches and this was very special - so great value for money.

From the Mas it was time to cycle on to Roussillon, the famous red town. It's another lovely place and, despite the mass of tourists, we made a stop to change the bike batteries in a central cafe and had a look at the amazing views.

It was all downhill from Roussillon as we returned to Bonnieux via the ancient Roman bridge Pont St Julien. We were sad to hand the bikes back to Sun E Bikes - hiring those bikes was the best decision of the week in Bonnieux. We rode over 70 kilometres yesterday but it was easy.

As the sun went down we enjoyed some fruit and a glass of wine on one of the villa's terraces -  a perfect end to a perfect day.