Today is is sunny again but only 10 degrees. We had to put the gas for the stove in the 800 to make it to the gas station since we had not seen one on the way into town! We had 287 km and 3.5 hours to go on the small roads to Avignon.
The first section was nice thru some small villages, but the last 2/3 was very windy along the water and a lot of time on the highway.
Arriving to the camping Pont de Avignon we made a quick change again and grabbed the free ferry across the Rhone to the city.
This is again a huge walled medieval town and was the seat of the Papacy at the Palais de Pape. We climbed the long stairs to the palace gardens and then toured the church and the palace itself. It was fun to go out on the Pont de Avignon as all my Canadian friends will have learned the nursery rhyme in school. “Sur la Pont D’Avignon…” We finished the evening with steak and frits sitting on the main square.
“Avignon, a city in southeastern France’s Provence region, is set on the Rhône River. From 1309 to 1377, it was the seat of the Catholic popes, and remained under papal rule until becoming part of France in 1791. Its center, surrounded by medieval stone ramparts, contains the massive Palais des Papes and remains of the Saint-Bénezet bridge, also known as Pont d’Avignon.”
We had a 275 km drive east to get to Vence, which is near Nice.
We were up and out early again this morning and had a nice view of the city and the bridge on the way out of town.
There is a custom here foreign to North Americans where in traffic the cars will pull over into the shoulder to let you pass on a motorbike there is oncoming traffic! The French drivers are very courteous to motorcycles.
We had another nice day with curvy small roads and nice warm weather at 22 degrees.
The middle of the day was a spectacular ride thru the Gorge de Verdon (25 km long and 700 meters deep). There is a panoramic view of the gorge from the road and the river and lake below.
There are a number of stone tunnel bored thru the rock and in a number of spot the cliff overhangs the entire road. The large trucks slowed to a crawl to make it thru.
We stopped in a small French village and had a coffee and some fresh fruits for lunch.
The last part of the day towards the coast was full of tunnels and ran along the river.
From Grasse were headed towards the French Riviera and “Almost to Venice” at Vence, which is near to Nice. We were hot and tired and after driving around the town a bit we finally settled for a hotel on the highway, which was a bit Faulty Towerish, but had the first really good wifi we have had in a while…..so work was done.
Today we had planned to “ride over to Monaco” for country number 44 for a quick photo op and out. This took 2 hours for the 65 km loop. We did go the long way there along the scenic Basse Corniche (low coast road) and the traffic into Nice was terrible. Then we went thru the tunnel to Monaco!
There was so much construction in Monte Carlo with the set up for the grand Prix we could not get close to any landmarks for a good picture.
The ride back was better on the Moyenne (middle) Cornishe with nice views of the ocean.
From Nice we headed north to meet the small roads near Bronson and head north to Briancon in 242 km. We wanted to take the small roads, but this involved one of the small mountain passes, which we are not sure is open yet.
Shortly after leaving the main road we stoped here for lunch and found to our surprise they had very good Thai food.
Here there road is quite awesome and curvy with very little traffic. Of concern the sign post said all but 1 of the Cols or passes was closed and we neared our turn off for the direct road north to Briancon we stopped and asked a local. yes the pass we need is closed until May 1 ten days from now. This created an addition 50 km reroute back towards Dinge and then around to Barcelonette. This road was not a mountain pass, but was still pretty great. It was only the last 40 km that were on the highway. We found a small hotel in the village of LʼArgentière-la-Bessée south of Briancon after 282 km.
We came across these crazy rock formations at the side of the road!
Hotel picnic of tomato, avocado, fresh bread, cheese, wine and rabbit.