Sunday 29 August 2010 Lac de Savel.
The bus arrives in Valence early, at 4 am. From inauspicious to inauspicious, this drop off point is on the outskirts of Valence, in the middle of a light industrial estate, dark and cold, with the mistral worrying at the piles of building materials stacked around. We have no map, so don’t where the town centre is. All around are cyclists hastily pulling cycling tops and shorts on, trying to find somewhere for the toilet, and turning handlebars round. Finally we pedal off, into the unknown dark streets, and Jim follows his nose to lead us to Valence Station. The cold whips around the ticket machine as we pay the fare to Grenoble, and soon after the big spacious train draws in to wait for about half an hour. There are lots of spaces for bikes.
We arrive at 7.15 and start trying to find the path from Grenoble to Gap. We keep losing it among the many unsigned choices, in industrial estates and houses. Arriving where we think the camp site is we spend a long time combing the streets to be rewarded finally with a dingy itinerant type campsite packed in amongst the light industrial units down by the river. Although tired, we are not that tired, and decide we would rather press on and start our journey than stay there. Maybe we can camp at Champagnier, just up the hill from Grenoble, so we pedal up, soon leaving the suburbs behind, and exchanging them for green and glistening stubble and crops in their fields. Trees are waving, bent by the strong Northerly Mistral that is to blow us down to the South. Champagnier is a pleasant town but after a snack in the sun we decide to go further, up over more green wooded ridges to a small town with a little railway St George de Commieres, where after lunching, we continue further south where we find a string of startling blue-green lakes, on the bank of one of which is a remote but all singing campsite, Lac de Savel. We find an isolated terrace for the tent, the sparkling lake visible through old pines and prepare our meagre comforts for the first night. – cut down Karrimats, thin sleeping bags, (with silk liners). We have gone for a very light approach, with a single Carradice rear saddle bag and a small bar bag each. Already our set-up has been admired extensively. We eat at the bar of the campsite, overlooking the dazzling lake.
While I have a lovely drink …of bikewater