Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Assumption Day in the Cevennes

What could be a better way of celebrating Assumption Day than by going for a bike ride? I intended going to Mont Aigoual for a bit of fresh cool air, I ended up doing this:
Fab bike ride along teeny weeny single-track roads with grass down the middle
It was an afternoon ride after some shopping and a session at the gym this morning. I bought myself a little treat of Madagascan prawns for lunch so I was well fortified for a good ride.

There were a lot of people on the roads, the main roads at least. I was following what I thought was the route I'd chosen on Google Maps back at home, but there was a hiccup and the Voice was sending me up to Mont Aigoul on the very road I knew well and wanted to avoid.

So I came off at Le Mazel and took the D323 in the direction of Mandagout. It's a tiny single track road with grass growing in clumps down the middle and some optimistic lines painted in the places not covered in grass which served no other purpose than to show you where the road was.
Valley of sweet onion fields
I was riding deep into the middle of nowhere except that every now and again I'd come across fields of sweet onions being cultivated along the river valley or orchards of Reinette apples or olive groves, and the ubiquitous sweet chestnut trees. At one point I saw a woman beneath a tree next to a field of harvested onions in crates who was doing yoga. The Cevennes is the sort of place where people do yoga. It fits in with the mystical atmosphere of the mountains, the desire to be close to nature and out of the rat race. You can't be in the rat race isolated in a hamlet of 3 houses half an hour drive at least to the nearest shop.

I drove through many well-kept tiny hamlets of old stone houses like this:
Isolated hamlet surrounded by a lot of countryside...
They were usually perched on hillsides in picturesque layouts of roofs and stone walls. The scenery changed dramatically when I reached the plateau.
Stark vegetation on the higher plateau
This was near the col des Vieilles which is a popular route with cyclists. I didn't see anyone on the road today though. They were all down in the valley in crowds on the rivers which were alive with colour from canoeists, bathers and families.

Mandagout (?)
The views of the forests and mountains were magnificent. The Cevennes region is one of my favourites for the wonderful emptiness of its landscapes and delightful villages sporadically situated.

Le "Chateau"
Click on the photos to get a better look.

I needed petrol so I headed for Le Vigan where Super U was open. I filled up and then went inside to use the facilities. Afterwards, I sat to look at the map and got talking to a retired chap who told me about his children and grandchildren (all doing things like medicine, dentistry, computers) and who was impressed that I was riding around the area by myself and tackling the tiny roads. I felt quite impressed with myself too after listening to him.

From Le Vigan, I crossed the river and went past the Well factory to a glorious little aqueduct.

Le Vigan aqueduct
I had to stop and take a photo of course as it was so beautiful. It was right near a campsite too which was chockablock with happy campers. The Google Map voice took me towards Saint Bresson on some more tiny roads. Then to Saint-Laurent-le-Minier where there is a rather lovely waterfall. It was heaving with people of course, and there were cars parked everywhere.

I rejoined the main road at Saint-Bauzille-de-Putois having crossed the sky-blue suspension bridge at Agonès and got home in time for a lovely refreshing glass of rosé. The whole trip took about four and a half hours.

I fully intend to go back and do it more carefully, perhaps from the other direction, when I'm not half-worried about petrol levels. I should have filled up before I left. Lesson learned. I've now done over 2000km on my bike!


  1. It sounds just perfect. Blogger won't show me the photos so I'll see if Facebook will oblige.

    1. That's weird! I hope you can see the photos.


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