Leaving the Chateau

We awoke refreshed but unfortunately we didn’t leave the Hostellerie de Fontanges until quite late. This was due to me wishing to update our blog and having to use their intermittant wifi connection in the bar as we had checked out. I eventually won and we finally continued towards Le Camping Moto.

We followed the N88 and the N102 with a short section of motorway the A75. What a collection of different but truly stunning roads. Initially the only hint that you are gently climbing is the change in the trees with more and more conifers appearing. Then the section of A75 motorway climbs to 740 metres above sea level then drops to 580 metres then climbs again to 760 metres all in a mile or so. There is then is a newish bridge over a stunning gorge, Mip didn’t know about it and thought we were grass tracking then flying! On the bridge we had to really drop the speed as the side winds were catching the bikes. After that the road climbs to 1264 metres above sea level and the temperature dropped to 14 degrees C. I know, I know, but we have been getting used to 30 to 40 degrees recently.

No I didn't enjoy that road either!

We followed the N88 to Pradelles where we turned onto the N102. Wow what a road! It twists and turns, rises and falls, with hairpins and narrow bridges abounding. A wonderful biking road with a good surface that the V7’s were just made for.

We were now in the Rhône-Alpes region of France but we realised that, because of the nature of the roads, our average speed was quite low and that we were not going to make Le Camping Moto before 8 or 9pm. We decided to keep our eyes open for somewhere to stop and subsequently headed for Vals-Les-Bains as it sounded interesting. It is a 17th century spa town where the French have been coming to ‘take the waters’ since 1845 and is still going strong. We passed several campsites en-route but none had any eating facilities and we had nothing left with which to make our own meal.

In Vals-Les-Bains we found an interesting hotel-restaurant called Les Celestins and booked in. We were told to park the bikes directly in front of the restaurant were we provided some impromptu entertainment for the diners as we unloaded them inches from their tables, separated by only a sheet of plate glass. A short time later we ate there and received several smiles and bonjours from the same diners.

The staff were again great and allowed us to store all of our camping gear on the ground floor of the hotel rather than having to leave it on the bikes or cart it up to our room on the second floor, with no lift and a steep spiral staircase.

I have to say that our experience is that France is quite a pro biker country and that, if you have a go at speaking Francais, then the French will bend over backwards to help you out.

We ate a fantastic meal of mostly local produce in quirky surroundings that we felt completely at home in (we can see you smirking there!). In fact we are enjoying the place so much that we have decided to stay for an extra day. I love the freedom that being on a long trip and always trying to plan to give ourselves plenty of time and therefore flexibility between destinations or deadlines gives us.

Innocent looking knives

We have had a wander around, taking care to only go into the shops signed as ‘Entre Libre’ otherwise you are expected to buy something. At one Newsagents they had an extensive collection of knives, some beautifully crafted ones for sale for hundreds of euros, but the ones that amused me were those disguised as everyday objects. Obviously handy if you want to smuggle one in through customs!

Pimms O'clock French style - Neat!

This afternoon we decided that it was Pimms O’clock, but quickly discovered that the French serve it neat with ice! Sarah’s expression says it all really.

The river behind our hotel

So here I am sat at the laptop at Les Celestins, typing away to you all, with a glass of Viognier in my hand and smiling. It has actually been quite difficult at times to walk away from my old life, but it’s now really beginning to sink in just how good our decision to wed and fled was 🙂

Seen parked outside Les Celestins