Monday, August 27, 2018

Motorbiking to Gordes

Summer is drawing to a close; you can feel it in the air, and the fresher morning temperatures. What a relief it is to wake up cool.

However, fluctuating morning/afternoon temperatures poses slight biking difficulties, especially on a day-long ride. What jacket to wear?

Yesterday, the morning was a frisky 20°C but it was set to rise to 30°C in the afternoon. For my ride to Gordes, I decided on the summer jacket with a fleece underneath, and very happy was I to have the extra warmth.

I had a Biking Buddy for my ride this time, and picked him up at Carrouf where we filled up with petrol before setting off. First stop was to be coffee in Arles.

Itinerary to Gordes in the Luberon and back, total about 330 km
Click on photos for a better look.
We crossed the city and took the airport road to the coast and carried on to La Grande Motte, then up through the Camargue with its vin des sables vineyards dotted along the road, and empty fields. It was very windy and I got buffeted about but my sturdy little Honda kept a true path (at 80km/hr) and forged its way despite the best efforts of the Mistral.

It was a relief to stop for coffee in Arles. We rode into the centre, right into the mostly pedestrian part to a pleasant little square that had tables in the middle shaded by a huge old tree.

Trying to find this square I came a bit of a cropper as I manoeuvred my bike to turn around and it fell on the ground. As I waited for BB to come and help me pick it up (it had fallen on the side with the side-stand and I didn't want it toppling over onto the other side when I got it up because I do actually know how to lift it up, I've had some practice...), a guy came out from a nearby house (with a bike in front) to see if I needed help. By that time BB had arrived and we didn't require his physical assistance, but we did ask for the way to the little square and he obliged, telling us to ignore the one-way street signs. Which we did and so we came to the little square with no more problems.

After a nice break, we set off again for the Luberon, and decided to eat our picnic lunch in Menerbes, made famous for most of us by Peter Mayle, and one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France.

Picnic bench at communal watering hole, Menerbes, Luberon
It's a lovely little hillside town with magnificent views across to Mont Ventoux. Click on the photos for a better look. It's the sort of place you need to walk around and admire the creamy limestone buildings at leisure.

View from picnic site across the Luberon to Mont Ventoux
My picnic lunch was a classic jambon beurre sandwich which I made with a delicious cereal baguette, superior additive-free ham from a local artisan, organic cherry tomatoes with bags of taste, crisps (no one's perfect and picnics = crisps for me), and some watermelon for puds. I did enjoy it!

After lunch we set off for Lacoste, famous for the chateau belonging to the Marquis de Sade, to find a nice cup of coffee. We found a restaurant perched on the cliff by the side of the road with more fabulous views and decided it was just the spot.
View from Lacoste coffee stop towards Bonnieux
Fortified by the coffee, we set off again for our final destination - Gordes. The region is fabulous for its scenery, and the roads are excellent. It's a real pleasure riding around and taking in all there is to see.

The traffic going up to Gordes was, however, heavy. It's become THE place to visit so we followed coaches, cars and lots of bikes up the winding road. If you're on a bike, you don't pay the parking, but cars in the town were being asked the extortionate sum of 10 EUR!

Classic view of Gordes

Squashed-face me and classic view of Gordes
Inside the town, we had a little look around, along with everyone else.
Busy busy Gordes
There are very steep, perilously cobbled roads to tackle, probably best explored without those romantic summery heels.
Photo captured in a gap in the throng
It is all delightful to look at, from the beautifully constructed creamy limestone houses and shops, to the expansive views.
View from Gordes
By now it was 30°C so I removed my fleece when we returned to the bikes to set off on our return journey. We had no particular stopping points, but I had programmed Google Maps to tell me the route to Avignon via L'Isle de la Sorgue, then Sommières via Nimes using earphones. However, it's not a perfect system I have going here. To start with, the earphones keep getting dislodged from my ears inside the helmet so I can't hear a thing. Then the voice telling me where to go is at odds with the map, which is the most confusing element.

Anyway, we didn't get lost, but did have to stop to re-inject life into numb backsides. My bike seat is not the most comfy, and trying to sit on a fleece pully didn't work to improve things as it wasn't long enough. Riding these long distances takes a lot of practice to get things right!

Finally, as the day was ending, we stopped for a refreshing Perrier by the river in Sommières.
Me looking shattered with helmet hair by the river in Sommières
Having started out at 10am, I got home at just after 8pm. It was a long day, and a long ride, but a fabulous trip.


  1. Photo problem again...I can see a couple, but they all come up on FB.
    What a super trip...once you sort out a bit of comfort on the saddle front.

    1. How weird with the photos! I'm glad you got to see the ones on FB though, I'll add the others.
      You can buy special gel cushions for motorbikes, or sheepskin ones! I'll probably end up getting a gel one as I'm sure the sheepskin ones would get very soggy in the rain. :)

  2. Just read your last three posts. It's great to hear how you're enjoying your Honda and the trips sounds wonderful. You always seem to find unusual places for coffee and choose places with super views. I couldn't see all the photos in these last two posts but I noticed you'd shared on Facebook so I'll have another look on there.


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