January 1, 2011

May 25| Avignon to Orange


La Chapelle St. Amande
We followed the D2 to Aramon, and from there Théziers. The route wasn’t too busy with traffic and took us past La Chapelle St. Amande in Théziers. A XII century Romanesque chapel. Unfortunately, it is kept locked, so we couldn’t go in. The chapel is located on the north side of the D19, in sight of the road. A historic monument since 1941, it stands alone on a small hill, overlooking fields back to the east. It is small, simple building, with a lovely bell tower.

Pont du Gard
From there it was easy to follow signs to le Pont du Gard, an amazing place. Built by the Romans in the 1st century, to move fresh water from Uzès to Nimes, it crosses the Gardon River.  We loved it that, ancient and of historic importance that it is, the site isn’t treated solely as a museum, but used by visitors and local people alike for cycling, hiking, swimming, kayaking, picnicking. Beautiful as you can see in photos, it is far more impressive in real time.

After lunch at the Pont du Gard we rode north a bit on the N86 and then across the D4. The D4 was the best riding of the day, through the Forêt de Malmont and Forêt de Tavel. It was beautiful and there was very little traffic, with an easy uphill through the forest, to open garrigue-like habitat on top. We stopped for a snack on the top of the ridge, before the descent back down to the Rhone Valley where we turned north towards Orange.

Théâtre Antique
In Orange we stayed at the Hotel l’Herbier d’ Orange. The hotel was small, delightful and air conditioned, with a safe place for the bikes and our choice of the delicious breakfast on the interior terrace or on the small place in front of its entrance. We’d stay there again anytime. After breakfast we visited the Théâtre Antique in Orange, the Roman theater built in the 1st century AD and still astonishingly intact. For a sense of scale, notice how small the class of schoolchildren is. It was restored in the 19th century, and over the past two thousand or so years, has been a theater (performances are held there in the summer,) a fort, a neighborhood of small houses was built in it, and a prison. The stage wall is over 100 feet tall and 300 feet wide. There are other Roman ruins in Orange that I was sorry to miss, but we wanted to get moving. 

48 miles.   Route:   D2-Aramon / D 19 – Pont du Gard /  N86 to D 4 / D976 to Orange

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