Last summer, we rode 4 days from Albi to Vaison-la-Romaine. About 500 km of wonderful scenery, a lot of wind… Here is the report!

Belle salamandre sur la voie verte des Droits de l'Homme entre Albi et Castres

On July 4th, we start from Albi’s train station, at 7h when temperatures are fresh still. Once we are out of the the city, we got to the green way called “la voie verte des Droits de l’Homme between Puygouzon and Castres. The profile is pretty flat and there is not much to see but it allowed us to start fast and ride quickly the first fifty kilometers. From Castres, we reached the first foothills of the Montagne Noire. First climbs, first food craving! It is time for Lunch just before Mazamet. The heat is stifling and we start the second part of the voie verte called Passa PaÏs between Mazamet and Bédarieux. More scenic than the first part, we admired the variety of landforms and the point of view on the Parc Régional du Haut-Languedoc, we took advantage of the shade under the trees and the numerous fountains. We stopped at the Premian campground about in the middle of the Passa Païs path, 118 km done.

Tuesday July 5th. Another 7 o’clock start in order to ride with decent temperature for part of the day. We gave a hand to another cyclist who needed some air and after a nice chat with her, we kept going and reached Bedarieux around 9h30. Time for grocery shopping for the day. We would like to arrive in Marseillan at the end of the day, on the mediterranean sea where one of my uncles lives. We leave Bedarieux towards south east to leave behind us the Haut-Languedoc. We take a shortcut through the “maquis” on gravel paths, with white stones, our Hutchinson Overide tires are solicited pretty much over the branches, holes and rolling stones! We manage to go back on a smoother path and we keep riding toward the sea: Faugères (lunch break), Roquessels, Gabian, Mangon, Saint-Thibéry (beautiful roman bridge and medieval water mill), Florensac and finally Marseillan. Even if the heat was really overwhelming, the gravel paths, the small roads and the pretty villages made the day astonishing. Another 95 km on the books. 

  • Vu depuis la Passa Païs entre Mazamet et BédarieuxChemin gravel avant Marseillan, belle piste de jeu en bike packing !

Wednesday July 6th. We start earlier as we have the longest day of the trip. We leave with the first rays of light and we have breakfast on the beach just before Sète. We take the Via Rhôna toward the north. We go through the crowded cities which represent mass tourism with their concret estates: Palavas-les-Flots, La Grande Motte, Le Grau-du-Roig… A friend will tell us later that they are a part of the Architectural Heritage and great childhood memories…
We get to Aigues-Mortes via its salt marsh. The walled city is in the middle of nowhere. That is a great drink stop with an appreciated limonade. We go on throught the Camargue and its paddy fields until Arles. We were offered a place to stay for the night in Maussane-les-Alpilles by a friend, it is a bit of a detour but the proposal of a swim at the property is very appealing. We arrive at 20h30 after a 160 km-day.

Levée de soleil sur Marseillan et Sète, il fait frais sur nos vélos !

Thursday, July 7th. We left the house around 7h. Last day of the adventure, a stop in Avignon is planned for the theater festival. Easy day… We thought it would have been an easy day. The wind is very strong today, very strong. The “Mistral” blows hard and we struggle to stay on our bikes.

We arrived in Tarascon at 8h30 for our daily grocery shopping and breakfast in the sun. We rode along the Rhône river either on cycle paths or light gravel roads. The wind didn’t leave us in peace, it dried our lips out, made sound in our ears. Lunch break in Avignon with a phenomenal heat. There was plenty of life in the streets because of the festival, it is unique! We left Avignon behind and we started what we think is the least interesting part of the day, the stripe between Le Pontet and Bédarrides: lots of cars, asphalt, crazy traffic… We were happy when it stopped! 

Les remparts d'Aigues-Mortes et mon petit Kona mode bike packing ;)

We started to follow the Ouveze river which crosses Vaison-la-Romaine. We are near the end, the last stretch; the strength of the Mistral doesn’t decrease and it is so hard that we have to get off our bikes sometimes. Even if it can be a bit refreshing, it makes us really tired. Despite the wind, we have a nice panorama of Provence hills and Mont Ventoux. Sablet, Séguret and finally, Vaison-la-Romaine with two-hour-delay. At 22h, we were welcomed by our hosts, tired but happy after 113 km.

Le Mont Ventoux là-bas au fond, pas pour cette fois.

In the end, this adventure was very positive, even with a last day with an outraging wind. The bikepacking mode was a good option, allowing light overall bike weight for easy rides on different terrains. We got to know a bit better the beautiful Occitanie and a bit of Provence, it has just increased our interest in discovering it all! 

Ressources :

Vue sur Vaison-la-Romain depuis son château.

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