Provence Cycletour 5

Wednesday 1 September 2010 Col de St Jean, Col De Macuegne, Col de l’Homme Mort

It is cold, very cold when we awake just as it comes light, and we pack, and set off by seven, down to Serre, again, freezing our bits off in the process. A corner café is open, and we have breakfast before wheeling away on a long flat road beside the river, and discovering that my brakes are about to drop off, finding a treeful of delicious plums while mending it. At Orpierre, a climbers village, we traverse narrow streets of picturesque houses, with the attractive climbing towering above, against the dark blue sky. But there are no cafes open, so onward we carry to La Begue where a small warm café saves us and the chef/owner talks to us about the cols to come. Men are loading bales of lavender stalks into a lavender factory, making the air scented; in fact around this area the whole air really smelt of lavender. Tractors would pass with a load of old brown bales of lavender and we would be swooning in its wake of perfume. St Jean, the first col of the day is fairly steep, and hot. At the top was a shrine, up some steps where chocolate was eaten. On down to Sederon, to sit by a washing well for lunch, – more medieval churches and narrow streets where nothing is happening. The road to the Col de Macuegne is a bigger road , a gradual ascent, in the middle of what feels like a bowl of Provence – there are not many views. At the top three cyclists are lying in a hay field, and a smaller road continues on up the Col de L’Homme Mort. This is lovely, narrow, not very well maintained, beautiful Provencal shrubbery all around. The top is reached easily by a long almost flat section, and has no views at all, just trees. The descent was so beautiful; wide open expanses of pale brown land and the pale brown fast road all the way to Sault. Passing the large dingy municipal camping; a quick recce shows hard brown ground, unkempt caravans and a dishabille atmosphere, we continue for ice cream and beer in the now hot town- the lowest we’ve been for days and decide to hotel it – the Albion is our choice, the one we booked last year. We lie in the sun behind the shutters. Later we have a great Provencal meal

On the way up to the Col de St Jean

The col de St Jean

At the Col de St Jean

The Shrine At the Col de St Jean

Approaching Sederon

The Narrow Streets of Sederon

Church at Sederon

Lunch at the Washing well in Sederon

Col de L’Homme Mort

Beware of the Sheep

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