Well our next move was back into France looking for places we have never been before. We followed the coast past Monaco, Nice and Cannes and ended up on a campsite a couple of miles outside St Tropez.
We found St Tropez very different from anywhere we have been on the trip so far. The town itself was much smaller than expected and was more of a village. It was easy to imagine how it used to be back in its heyday of the 50’s and 60’s, to some extent it is still clinging on to that image with photographs, paintings posters and all sorts of memorabilia relating to the stars who frequented the town back then. Now St Tropez, like many other places, has burst out of its original boundaries and spread across miles and miles of the Mediterranean coast line. The area now caters for everyone with fast food places water parks and even a circus available for the tourists.
We did venture out on our bikes into the hills and around the town. Some of it was quite scenic with a couple of hill top villages and several vineyards to explore (if you could avoid the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches etc flying around). The town itself is set around a harbour and is full of narrow, pretty streets full of expensive looking shops (window shopping only for Sarah!) Steve nearly had a heart attack when we stopped for coffee and paid 10 € for 2 small weak coffees!
While we were in town there was a sailing reggatta taking place with the highlight being a race of over 250 miles to Genoa. The harbour and bay area were full of fantastic looking racing yachts which was a spectacle to see. We also had an afternoon on the beach, which was nice but nothing special but it was a good feeling to be back on the coast by the sea. We spent the last 18 months before finishing work living right on the coast, only 20 metres from the sea, and sometimes we miss the open feeling you get from being by the coast.
So, St Tropez what did we think? Sarah didn’t mind it and enjoyed the time spent on the coast. For Steve, to be honest he didn’t enjoy it, the camping was poor and it was all too busy and frantic for him.
Next we decided to head into the middle of France. We made a short couple of days stop in The Ardeche. We stopped here on the way through 6 weeks ago and had an amazing time. The weather was so good as we passed through we couldn’t resist another short stop and it was just as good second time around.
We then decided on a couple of days stop in the Languedoc-Rousillon area before moving on to The Dordogne. We pulled into a town called Millau and a week later we are still here!! This place is totally brilliant for us. There are four gorges in the area, two of them meet in the town and the scenary is pretty immense. It is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Paragliding, kayaking, walking etc etc, the cycling routes are endless with flat roads that twist and wind next to the rivers. At this time of year the roads are almost free of traffic (other than the occasional huge jet from the French Air Force which obviously use the area for training every couple of days). When they fly over they are so loud it feels and sounds like they are tearing holes in the sky. On one occasion we were out cycling deep in the gorge and heard one coming. We looked up and were treated to an aerobatics display as it came corkscrewing down the canyon. It was like being in a scene from the movie “Top Gun”.
Then there are the hills and more hills as the gorges are linked by 3000 foot climbs that snake their way up the sides of the gorge and then scream back down to the next river. Steve has been like a child in a sweet shop and he is now thoroughly worn out and ready for a bit of a rest.
There is even a 50 metre outdoor swimming pool and athletics track here in Millau. Add to that a lovely town with a medieval centre containing some great bars and a superb campsite 200 metres from the town, we might never leave!!! Oh we nearly forgot to mention just outside of town, one of the gorges is spanned by the ultra modern Millau Viaduct built in 2004, it lays claim to be the worlds tallest bridge. It is extremely impressive and everytime we see it, whether from a distance or while cycling or running underneath it, it never fails to impress.
We must leave Millau and head to The Dordogne as time on this trip is running out. We both feel we are reasonably prepared now for our impending cycle from Canada to Mexico so we will back off from training now and try and do a little more sightseeing.