Sault would be a good town to base in for a few days, and explore the surrounding countryside. But I didn't stay, leaving early and riding back to the northeast. Why, you ask? Why go to the northeast, when Nice, your goal, is to the southeast.
Mont Ventoux was a diversion during a trip based on the classic Paris-Nice race; it is off the route from Paris to Nice. The race doesn't go there. It is held in March and the summit is closed. But I was nearby, in Nyons, and wanted a chance to try the iconic climb. Also because the race is in March, it doesn't visit the Alps, but I want to see those high mountains, so I am headed northeast before turning south to Nice.
|The blue blue sky of sunny southern France|
My route left Sault on a classic little road of southern France, surrounded by fields of lavender. The ones next to the road above look to me as if they are either young, or overcut.
|The landscape was full of lavender fields|
There was lavender everywhere, the air was vaguely scented of it. Nothing else was filling the landscape.
|Solar cells in the field|
Oops, one more thing I was wrong about. Turning a corner there was a huge, massive, solar installation.
|Dead Man's Pass|
This climb was neither hard, nor very long, but it was a nice way to start my 60-ish mile ride. Col de L'Homme Mort (Dead Man's Pass ... sounds like something out of the Colorado Rockies gold rush era) is 1212 meters, abut 700 meters lower than Mont Ventoux.
Just after this pass, the landscape changed dramatically. Oddly, the route pretty much descended all the way to Col de Macuègne.
Apple land came next. Acress and acres, no, miles and miles. Virtually all of them covered in netting. In the past I have speculated that netting over orchards is for protection from birds, or the sun. But a grower told me it is to protect from hail. Violent summer hail storms are not unusual and they can easily ruin an entire season's crop.
Unusually, I travelled through three Départements today, the Drome, Hautes-Alpes, and Alpes de Haute-Provence, where I am now.
|A very muddy Durance River. It must be the irrigation source for these huge fields of fruit trees.|
The end of my ride paralleled the Durance River, which Roy and I rode next to (but well downstream of here) back in 2009. Here the river seems very controlled, with a canal, and I suspect multiple dams. This is probably irrigation water for these huge fields of apples. My first view was of a very muddy river. Agricltural runoff? Whatever the cause is, it doesn't look healthy for fish or much of anything else.
Not too far upstream, it was much cleaner.
Tonight I am staying in Tallard, a city somewhat north, and more east, of Nyons. Although Paris-Nice doesn't come here, the Tour de France did, in Stage 15, a flat stage from here to Nimes. There was only a bit of nearly indecipherable writing on the road surface.