The End of the Myth
Sep 21, 2011
|Ok, the myth is gone. Whatever misconceptions I had about the "hills" of Provence has disappeared and been replaced by huffing, puffing and the granniest of granny gears!
Today will be two days combined into one. I was so tired last night when we got to Gordes, that I could barely make it through dinner! It was a hilly day and it was also quite warm, so the combination made for some weary folk at the end of the day.
We left Pernes to head for Gordes, having picked our poison, so to speak. There were two routes to choose from: the longer, but flatter route or the shorter, but much hillier route. We chose the shorter route and it started out with a hill that lasted for about 5 km. Every turn yielded to another hill, some gradual and some - not so much. Eventually we ended up coasting for just as long down the other side - what goes up, must come down. We coasted right into the town of Fontaine de Vaucluse, which is known for its underground spring/river that feeds the Sorgue River. We parked the bikes and walked to this "fountain", that was practically dry. A kind gentleman explained that with the snowmelt, the river that runs underground for many miles surges out at the spring and fills the area up to a level way above where we were. We had to look at postcards to get the idea of what we were missing.
After a sandwich along the river, we got back on the bikes and off we went. Our route took us right by the Corkscrew Museum - 1001 ways to open a bottle of wine. Curiosity got the best of us and in we went - mostly to see if they had a restroom! The museum was in a winery and we were invited to wander through the aging room full of casks of wine, then taste some wine. Rumor has it that the rose wines of the Cote du Rhone are very good, so we sampled two of them. I could see drinking one of them on a warm afternoon, but it wouldn't be my regular wine of choice.
Our final bonus of yesterday was the hill to Gordes. We left Geoff and Sue to find their B & B a little ways outside of Gordes and we began the climb! It was hot and the hill was long and steep. But we'd been told that it was worth it! Well, it truly was. Our hotel overlooks the village that is built on a hillside overlooking the valley. Chuck took a dip in the arctic-like swimming pool - I sat on the edge and "iced" my knee in the water.
I was dreading riding today since whatever we did would involve a return to trip to Gordes since we are staying here for two nights. But a good night's sleep helped to erase the pain of yesterday's hill climbs! And the villages on today's route were enticing. Once again we were treated to hills - but three times today instead of just two!
The first village we visited was Roussillon, a village that sits atop Mont Rouge or Red Mountain. It's a protected village that has benefitted from a complete absence of modern development. An enormous deposit of ochre gives the earth and the buildings a distinctive red color. It was a fun village to explore with many cute shops and photographic old buildings.
We then headed to the Pont Julien, a Roman bridge built in about 300 B.C. I am still amazed at the age of some of these places! From there we headed UP to Bonnieux then on to Lacoste, two more hilltop villages of the Luberon. After a late lunch in Lacoste, we headed back to Gordes, knowing that it was a big final climb to get there. We came in from a different direction today than we did yesterday, arriving right in the main square of the village!
Tonight was the first of our two included dinners of the tour. It was five courses, but all reasonable size portions. We started off with a shot-glass of a cold potato soup, of sorts, accompanied by a small glass of rose' wine "perfumed with grapefruit". (I'm not always sure about the English versions given by the servers...) The second course was a "trilogy of tomatoes". There were pineapple tomatoes, heart of beef tomatoes, and one that we couldn't quite follow the translation of - all very tasty. The main course was described as "baby spring chicken", but looked like a cornish game hen with teensy little green beans, some mushrooms and about six pieces of gnocchi. All delicious. We then had a cheese plate with three small slices of cheese - one blue, one sort of like a brie, and one slice of a hard cheese. All three were very strong. Dessert was a small plate with three small desserts - an apple pie in phyllo, a teensy scoop of caramel-mocha ice cream, and a shot glass of apple/berry sauce with a dollop of whipped cream on the top.
Tomorrow is the last day of our ride. We are looking forward to the end, but we have had a great time exploring Provence on bicycles.