Thursday, 27 June 2013

Narbonne and Avignon and Aix-les-Bains

On Wednesday, 19th June, we arrived at the B & B in Cuxac-d'Aude near Narbonne  after travelling through the Pyrenees from Andorra. The B & B was full of great art and sculptures and colour, a beautiful, vibrant home.

On Thursday, 20th June we headed into Narbonne to do some laundry, look through the markets, go to the fine arts museum and after lunch headed north to Narbonne Plage/Beach.

On Friday, 21st June we headed north to Avignon where in the 1300's the Pope decided to leave Rome and build a palace.  After looking around the palace we went south to stay at a B & B on a farm.

On Saturday, 22nd June we continued north and stopped to look at some Roman ruins in Vaison-la Romaine then coninued on to Trevignin near Aix-les-Bains near Lac Bourget.  The B & B serve an awesome dinner, table d'hotes, with 6 other guests and 2 hosts all speaking French as they knew none or little English.

On Sunday, 23rd June, the morning was raining and dark so we planned the next few days accomodation and went out at lunchtime around Lac Bourget.

On Monday 24th June, we headed north to Annecy and then started on the Route Des Grandes Alpes which is a tourist route of the French Alps.  The scenery through the alps has been amazing and I will blog about that next time when I have sorted through all the photos and have decided which show the scenery the best.

Au revoir.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Crossing the Pyrenees to Andorra and France.

Last Tuesday, 18th June, we left San Sebastian at 8:30am in the rain.  We had to continue riding past the beautiful blue lake that I mentioned in the last post as it was raining too much to stop or get a good photo. Heading up through the Pyrenees we saw this great rock formation and since the rain had stopped for a few mins we quickly hopped off the bike with soaking gloves and boots to stretch our legs and take some photos. This was at 11:30am.

So it's getting on to lunch time and we are heading for Huesca.  We have basically seen no towns since Panploma 2 hours before and I'm beginning to wonder how big Huesca will be....maybe a few houses and that's it....where we will have lunch, who will be happy to have a couple of dripping wet bikers eat in their bar/restaurant and will be able to read the menu.  There's a lot of thinking time on the back of a bike!!!!  The first thing I see as we enter the town of Huesca was McDonalds!!!  I haven't eaten McD's for about 10 years but at that moment nothing looked better to me - hot food and hot coffee, a menu with pictures!!! so we knew what we would be eating, and the people working their didn't care that we walked in with helmets on as it was still raining hard.  I actually had to walk out again and wring out my gloves!!!

Hubby tucking into some hot food!

Whilst we were eating 2 other bikers came in out of rain - a couple from England, and we saw other bikes on the road who may have stopped there after us!

We continued on through the Pyrenees and at 2:15pm we stopped at the top of this mountain - Col de Montlobar, 1080m altitude. After we headed down this mountain the rain finally stopped! 

We stopped again at Sort to check the tyre pressure and I managed a quick photo.

The roads had been windy and treacherous but hubby did a great job in keeping us safe and we finally made it into the Principality of Andorra late in the afternoon and that evening had a great dinner of steak of chips and salad which we had been yearning for after eating tapas for 3 days and nights!

The following day, Wednesday, June 19th, was bright and sunny which was excellent way to climb the heights of Andorra's mountain range and re-enter France at Pasa del la casa - most people take the tunnel but we took the windy road along with the other bikes....with the elevation being about 2400m!!!

We the headed north-east towards Narbonne and stopped at the top of Col du Chioula - this is a cycle route - total madness!!!  with and elevation of 1431m!!! This pic is looking back towards the Pyrenees.

Another great pic taken along the way was when I said to hubby that I have a sore bottom and he said that he would pullover as soon as he could - well, we are going down this windy road and I'm thinking that it's going to be a while before we stop but nope, minutes later we come across a parking area and stop for a stretch and to take this pic at 3:30pm. We had a little rain over the next hour but none like the previous day.

By 5pm we had arrived safely at Maison Pelissier in Cuxac d'Audes, near Narbonne, a wonderful French family home filled with six very quiet children and full of great art, safe and sound.

They were two very long days of riding but ever so memorable for their adventures and scenery. So grateful and so blessed to be on this amazing journey.

Au revoir.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Pyrenees and San Sebastian, Spain

On Friday, 14th June we headed south from Villereal, in Aquitane, France to a small village in the Midi-Pyrenees called Antist.  I had no idea of what to expect when it came to the Pyrenees mountain range and found it breathtaking!

On Saturday 15th June, we then traveled through the Pyrenees mountains to Spain, we reached an altitude of over 1700m and at times we could only see a few metres in front of us. At the top above the clouds there were cyclists, a running race happening and people rock climbing.  The Spanish side was less cloudy, less steep and warmer.

We then headed to Pamplona for lunch passing a beautiful light blue lake along the way.  Here is a photo of the Running of the Bulls statue.

We finally made it to San Sebastian, which is a beautiful city on a bay with a great sandy beach which was very busy over this sunny, warm weekend. We have walked all around the bay and this morning we walked around the northern mount. We are staying off the motorbike for a few days to have a rest from it.

One of the reasons we came to San Sebastian was for the Tapas....and we have had so much fun going from bar to bar to check out what they have and to have a couple here and a couple there.

Tomorrow we leave San Sebastian and head to Andorra and then back into France, to Provence and the Alps.

Adios amigos!

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Dordogne - Perigord Region

On Tuesday, we left the Loire Valley and headed south to Aquitane and the beautiful Dordogne-Perigord region in France.

This area has many bastides which are fortified towns, usually on the top of a hill/mountain so they have great views.

Here is Belves:

Then we went on to Domme:

Then on to another chateau - Chateau de Biron which is currently being renovated so the interiors are empty but it stands on top of a hill and has great views of the forests all around and had holes in the walls to see the enemy coming and a long drop toilet which we hadn't see in any of the other chateaus we had been to!

Then we went to another fortified town - Monpazier for drinks and dinner.

The weather was beautiful and sunny and warm, yesterday June 12th, Wednesday I think? hahhaha but today it has turned all wet and rainy as you can see in these photos of today's outings...

We went to Monbazillac where they have a chateau on top of a hill!!!  Chateau de Monbazillac is now open to the public but we did not go in - I think hubby is all chateaued out!!! but it is a grape/wine growning/making area and Monbazillac wines are sweet whites.

Then we headed to Bergerac and found the statue of Cyrano de Bergerac, we stopped for coffee and a pastry then headed back to the bed and breakfast, picking up a baguette, cheese, apple etc along the way for a French ploughman's lunch as the rain had set in.

On Friday 14th June we are heading to a town in the foothills of the Pyrenees called Antiste and on Saturday we are heading to San Sebastien in Spain the long and windy and fun for motorcyclists way.

Au revoir!!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Loire Valley

Last Saturday we travelled from Brittany to the Loire Valley to the city of Tours where we visited the Musee des Beaux-Arts.

We then went to Amboise to the Chateau du Clos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years there - he died on May 2nd 1519.

"The Château du Clos Lucé was purchased by Charles VIII on 2nd July 1490, and became the summer residence of the Kings of France, who lived in the Loire Valley at the Château d’Amboise.
Charles VIII transformed the Medieval fortress into a charming château and had a chapel built for the Queen, Anne of Brittany, who mourned the loss of her young children there.
Later, the young Duke of Angoulême, the future Francis I, organised tournaments in the gardens at Le Clos Lucé. His sister, Marguerite of Navarre, wrote the stories of the "Heptaméron" there. Brother and sister received visits from painters, architects and poets, and brought the place alive with the spirit of the Renaissance.

It was in 1516 that Francis I, advised by his sister Marguerite de Navarre, issued an invitation to Leonardo da Vinci.
Here you will be free to dream, to think and to work”. This was how the King of France welcomed the Italian genius, who crossed the Alps on a mule, bringing with him three of his most important works: The Mona Lisa, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, and the Saint John the Baptist, that he finished here, at the Château du Clos Lucé.
Leonardo da Vinci received a pension of 1000 gold crowns per year, and was named “The King’s First Painter, Engineer and Architect”. Until his death, he was the object of real affection on the part of Francis I – who called him “my Father” – his sister Marguerite and the whole Court."

The Loire Valley is full of interesting chateaus to visit and we chose Chateau de Langeais - it is a medieval castle where Duchess Anne of Brittany was married to Charles VIII.  It was interesting to visit the place where Anne was married at age 14 and her holiday home with the chapel where she mourned the loss of her children.  I loved walking in places knowing that she had walked there and I loved the rampart walk at the top of the castle too.

We have travelled south through Aquitane to Villereal so I will have to blog about our time here so check back in 24 hours for the next blog and more chateaus and views from this beautiful country.

Au revoir!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Brittany, France

On Wednesday, June 5th we travelled by ferry from Portsmouth in the south of England to Cherbourg, in Normandy France. The English Channel was relatively calm and I had no seasickness.

From Cherbourg we rode to Utah Beach, the site of the D-Day/Normandy invasion, 69 years ago on June 6th 1944.

From there we rode to our Bed and Breakfast in St Carreuc, Brittany.  Normandy was cloudy and cold but Brittany was sunny.

On Thursday we rode out to the forest in the west then headed north to the Pink Granite Coast and travelled along there to some of the bays such as Penevan, the Isle of Brehat and Brehec.

Today, Friday 7th June, we rode out to the Dinan, a fortified historical city.  We walked around the cobblestone streets, through the arty area, had a crepe/galette for lunch and then went to a museum/house of the artist Yvonne Jean-Haffen, ‘maison d’artiste de la Grande vigne’.  The day started out sunny and warm but by the time we headed home a thunderstorm had rolled in and this was a good time to test out the wet weather gear.

And here's a selfie pic of me in my new bike jacket which has a great thermal liner and is waterproof - an excellent touring jacket.

Au Revoir!!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A Few Days in England

We are leaving England tomorrow, crossing the English Channel by ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg in France. Here's what we have been up to over the past few days....

On Saturday we headed East to Margate to see hubby's aunty and his parents too even though they live 30 mins away from us in Perth they are in England too...

Hubby captured this photo of me laughing down on the promenade at Margate, we were heading to the cafe for fish and chips for lunch...

On Sunday we had a family barbecue, Cousin Roger has a great BBQ and Cousin Anne is a great cook so we were very happy.

On Monday we headed South and stopped at Lindfield for morning tea, then at Midhurst for lunch and a wander around some Norman fortress ruins and Cowdray Castle.  Then through the tree lined roads of the South Downs to Bognor Regis which is on the coast.

This is me in my new bike touring jacket, all rugged up whilst the British are wearing shorts and singlets because even though the sun was out the wind was very chilly.

Today, Tuesday, we went with our friends Brian and Sue, whom we are staying with to Portsmouth to the Spinnaker Tower, it was a beautiful sunny day so we had great views.  There was a glass floor so I walked on it and it reminded me of my trip to the CN Tower in Toronto last September.

We then went to the Mary Rose Museum which was opened last Thursday. This ship sunk in 1545 and was salvaged 30 years ago and there are thousands of artifacts, it was amazing and very interesting.  The museum is very well set out and you can see the ship being dried out (the black tubes) through portal windows but it is very dark to preserve the artifacts and therefore not good for photographing.

"The Mary Rose is a Tudor ship, built in 1510.In service for 34 years. Sank in 1545. Discovered in 1971.Raised in 1982. Now in the final stages of conservation,she now takes her place in a stunning and unique museum. "

"The Mary Rose was a carrack-type warship of the English Tudor navy of King Henry VIII. After serving for 33 years in several wars against France, Scotland, and Brittany and after being substantially rebuilt in 1536, she saw her last action on 19 July 1545. While leading the attack on the galleys of a French invasion fleet, she sank in the Solent, the straits north of the Isle of Wight. The wreck of the Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1971 and salvaged in 1982 by the Mary Rose Trust in one of the most complex and expensive projects in the history of maritime archaeology. The surviving section of the ship and thousands of recovered artefacts are of immeasurable value as a Tudor-era time capsule."

 We've had a great time in England catching up with family and friends and getting our bike ready for our journey.  My suitcase is a small backpack that fits in the top box behind where I sit on the bike, in it I have enough clothes for 3 months, I hope!

 See you when we get to France!  Au revoir!