The classic view of le Point d’Arc rock bridge marks the top end of the Gorges of the Ardèche. The high and wide omega loops further downstream that the Ardèche river has eroded in the layers of limestone rock make it a spectacular feature to see both from the rim road and by canoe or kayak. There’s a footpath though the gorge alongside the river bank with a bivouac site midway that’s popular with parties of schoolkids; apparently camping is prohibited in the caves but it seems everyone has done it at some time.
Plenty of water and green vegetation after recent rain, our early start again caught the best light before the clouds and afternoon storms.
The fortified medieval city standing hard above the scrubland and marshes of the Camargue. The towers date from 1246 AD.
A train ride across the border to Ventimiglia from Menton. You know you’re in Italy when the streets are lined with scooters. Ventimiglia’s renowned traffic congestion was enlivened by a rally of Ferraris passing through while we enjoyed a real Italian coffee with interesting ice cream.
The walk from Pointe Cabbé and its little beach then on round Cap Martin to Carnolès in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the Côte d’Azur. The joy of this much-loved path is the lush sub-tropical vegetation, both in the millionaires’ gardens behind fences and on the harsh limestone rocks above the azure sea. The towers of Monaco are seen across the Baie de Roquebrune.
The architect Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) set up a showcase property “Cap Moderne” and a “Workshop hut” in properties overlooking this bay; this path is now named after him. It’s an appalling image to me as a non-specialist: the French architectural prophet of “Cities in the sky” drafting his ideas in an environment so totally opposite to the high-density, high-rise concrete blocks he was condemning generations to try to live within. And yet such blocks (but for the privileged few) are now a major feature of the view of Monaco across the bay.
Menton Old Town with fresh paint, ready for the new season. The classic view from the bay to the east of the old town towards the Plage des Sablettes, view made famous by the paintings and aquarelles of Ernest Louis Lessieux (1848 - 1925).
Clean-up and maintenance time for my classic Palisades Trail Lite on my balcony in Marseille.
Meet place on the A701 below the Devil’s Beef Tub
There are three roads through the Lowther Hills, each with its own personality. These aren’t passes in the sense of an Alpine pass though they are routes over a crest at the head of one valley leading to another. Riding all of them is like taking a personality test of your biking style.
Warming up on the Col de l’Espigoulier (723 m.). I’d passed a few petrol stations still dry on the way out of Marseille but hurray, basically no prob. Unusually clear air with visibility all the way to the Écrins and even the Alps; it’s extremely unusual to see Mt. Blanc (4808 m.) clearly like this, over 350 km away.
A fantastic start to a day to Just Ride. But a few more kilometres along the ridge of Ste. Baume the sunshine began to seduce me. Onwards... but I found a friendly location, parked my RR in the shade and unpacked the sun kit and picnic lunch.
Back to Just Ride and pressing on with my route around the Massif de la Sainte Baume and back passing the Circuit du Castellet, bringing back memories of watching the Bol d’Or here.
Pretty much the dream day out on my RR.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Ynysowen Male Choir perform in the foyer before curtain up
Blaze of Glory! is the first Welsh opera I’ve come across, despite the fine roster of famous Welsh singers. I went out of my way to see it in Cardiff at the last night of the premiere run and it was brilliant. A full, knowledgeable and appreciative audience in Cardiff’s new theatre in the Wales Millennium Centre. I heard groups around me speaking only in Welsh. There was a spine-chilling concert hush from the audience for the lusty opening chorus sung both on stage and augmented in the auditorium by the Ynysowen Male Choir. Much of the audience joined in singing, in Welsh, to the final chorus at the end of the opera, then there was a standing ovation with three or four curtain calls.