Wanna know what I'll be doing on July 25th? .... OK, I'll tell you. I'll be glued to my TV back in Eastern Ontario watching the 2nd last stage of the 2009 Tour de France.
Why? ..... OK, I'll tell you. Today's excursion included 3 places on the 2nd last day of the 2009 Tour de France.
Off by 8:00am - great time to start to a day that became very hot. (I am usually the last one ready to head out for the day - and with 5 women, what are the chances of that?). Over to Apt and up to Sault where we stopped for a café. The trip over to Sault awarded spectacular views, but also included narrow twisting turns and bridge passages high above deep valleys.
I am sure some wondered if this was a prelude to come when I said that I thought they would enjoy a trip to the top of Mont Ventoux. My wife and I drove to the top on our first visit to Provence, back in 2005 - but we didn't see much. A mistral was imminent, and we could only see a few feet in front of us - see TR798 - Footloose in Provence and Paris.
After visiting the tourist office in Sault, picking up a map and being assured that we were within 30 minutes of the top of Mt. Ventoux, off we went. Most of the drive up the south side is in a forested area with only the last few kilometers on the exposed top of "Old Baldy". While we had told our companions about the number of cyclists we would encounter, even we were impressed with their numbers. We passed many, many cyclists - some labouring, some climbing easily, some in tandem, some in groups and many alone - all impressive individual efforts. We parked at the top and were humbled by the dozens of cyclists who were celebrating their ascent. There must have been close to 100 while we were there. We were all impressed by the achievement of those who ascended the summit under their own power. The views are spectacular. Mt. Ventoux dominates the horizon of a large part of the Vaucluse.
We descended on the north side - almost alone. We met only a few cyclists and even fewer cars. The south ascent, which is an HC (above category) climb in the mountain stages of the Tour de France is by far the most popular.
Over to Buis les Baronnies, a picturesque village and a very enjoyable lunch featuring a galette. The village was quiet when we were there, as most of the businesses were closed for a 2 or 3 hour lunch break. A bit our of the way, but an enjoyable visit to a highly-recommended community.
Then on to Vaison la Romaine, a visit to the Roman bridge & streetscape, some shopping before heading back to Ansouis via Carpentras (yes, we took a wrong turn again) and Cavaillon, stopping for some ripe melons de Cavaillon and abricots at a roadside stand. In for dinner - starting to finish off our food purchases, getting ready for our departure.
The July 25th stage of the 2009 Tour de France passes through Sault, Buis les Baronnies, and ends at the top of Mont Ventoux. You can bet I'll be watching.
Tomorrow is our last full day in our house in Ansouis. Our 6:16am Saturday morning TGV booking from the station in Avignon suggests a quiet day close to home, packing & getting ready for our departure. The owner of our property has been in contact a few times - nice touch that - and has encouraged us to visit the nearby Friday market in Lourmarin. OK Barb, we're going, we're going.