This weekend promised beautiful weather - sunshine and warmth, maybe the last one this year. There are three circuits in the motorbike list:
Between vines and the Orb valley (155 km)
From southern Larzac to the Mediterranean (165 km)
Hérault gorge and garrigue (120 km)
You can expect good roads, fabulous twists and turns and stunning scenery. I decided on exploring the villages and vines that make up the Beziers back country and then up along the Orb valley. You can download the roadbook which tells you some of the sites you can visit, places to eat, places to buy petrol, and places to repair your bike, as well as clear instructions on what roads to take and where to turn.
We had to reach Villeneuvette near Clermont-l'Hérault where the circuit starts - worth a visit as it was originally built as a clothing factory with housing for workers. Then the route takes you south to Cabrières and Pouzolles through many charming little villages and past vineyards as far as the eye can see. We stopped for coffee and a picnic in Pouzolles in the shadow of the impressive château sitting on some handily grouped seating on the esplanade just made for getting together and chatting.
|Pouzolles outsized château for such a small village|
|Roquebrun in the sunshine|
|Beautiful curve of the river at Roquebrun|
|Vieussan, vines, oliviers, garrigue, blue sky|
After Vieussan, the route takes you through a variety of picturesque scenery with views of the mountains of Haut Languedoc. We stopped next to a river with an exciting crossing that I just had to ride over.
|The river Orb with exciting crossing.|
|Me on my bike - the crossing looks quite tame...|
Riding north into the Haut Languedoc park, the hillsides closed in and the road followed every nook and cranny contour of the gorges. Seen along the way, the barrage des Monts d'Orb:
|Barrage des Monts d'Orb|
|61,75m high, 240m long, it can stock more than 30 Mm3 of water in 180 ha.|
|Elsewhere might suffer from drought, not Hérault!|
We took it easy on the twisty roads with their hairpin bends, climbs and descents, avoiding spiky chestnut shells on the road and groups of people collecting them. It got chillier as we went up, evidence that we were climbing towards the Larzac plateau.
The circuit ends at Roquedonde which is famous for the Buddist temple Lerab Ling. We didn't visit it, but took the scenic road back to Lodève with the intention of finding a bar for a cup of tea. There was nothing that looked open or friendly, so we carried on to Gignac where a book market was finishing up for the day, and the bar was open and filled with merry people on both sides of the road. It was good to sit and reflect on all we'd seen and ridden. So much to take in both visually and physically.
It's an amazing circuit with a great variety of scenery - everything except the beach in fact, it's Hérault in a nutshell and definitely one to do again. Perhaps not all in one day so that the sites can be visited on foot, and perhaps the other way round to see everything from the other side. It should take 4 hours to do but we started at 11.30am, took 45 minutes to get to Villeneuvette, stopped for lunch and coffee, for rests, for tea, and took half an hour or so to get back from Gignac which is itself half an hour or so from Roquedonde, and arrived home at 7.45pm.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to explore a fabulous and varied part of west Hérault.