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June 8, 2014

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Le Tour

June 22, 2014

Today we prepared carefully for our trip. The car was fuelled, sweaters found and a deep breath taken for the assault on.....Le Mont Ventoux, 1912m high, geologically part of but separate from the Alps, a visible landmark from all over the region, the "beast of Provence", part of the Tour de France last year - describe it as you will. Richard Mawle had warned us about biting winds, chilling cold and failing to summit. What he didn't warn us about was that driving up Mt Ventoux on a weekend, and particularly a weekend when there is a Belgian bike race on, is just bonkers. There were hundreds and hundreds of people riding up and down with cars also going both ways on some very narrow, twisty hairpin roads. We felt Iike a team car in the middle of the peleton during the Tour de France! Somehow Simon managed to miss them all assisted ably by the co-pilot advising constantly about the speed, direction and closeness of each near miss (Ed: it was far more often than constantly). Finally we got to the top. What a view! It is stunning. 360 degrees of mountains and green valleys (and stinking cyclists). The photo is of a wide bit of the road which was relatively empty of cyclists.

Dellas' photo of the finishing banner doesn't show the essence of the terrain over the last few kilometres. It is like someone dumped a metric butt-tonne of crushed white stone on a hilltop and then stuck a four storey square tower glazed with riveted sheet steel on top. From a distance it looks a bit like the Ventoux is covered with snow all year round but that's only when the Mawles visit! Today was very mild with a light breeze and 19 degrees at the summit. We didn't bother with the jumpers. You can imagine by looking at all the concrete falling apart how harsh the existence is up there though. I think the main difference with the Ventoux is the way it exists all by itself. If you are skiing in the Alps or Pyrenees there are great views - of more mountains. On the Ventoux you have a live map of Provence laid out before you. We were well impressed.

Off for our Fête de la Musique date with the as yet unmet Market Village guests .

 

 

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