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Friday, 11 August 2017

To the Ardeche...

Treasures to discover, always...until the next day, when we tore ourselves away from Bédoin. It had been a relaxing stay, especially as the weather was warm, yet not too hot. Our last night, however, had been very windy and the next day also proved to have a strong breeze to it. We felt we’d explored enough, so we packed up, intending to go north a few miles.

Instead, realising that friends would be at a campsite further south in a few days’ time, we went west, towards the Ardeche.

As always, so much to see en route. A Mirage aircraft on a roundabout was a strange sight. 
 Hilltop fortresses and castles beckoned, but we travelled on. 

 Attractive towns told of hidden architectural treasures: we drove on by. 
Then we crossed the Rhone.
A different world, in a way. Less dry. More greenery. Still vineyards as far as the eye can see, but interspersed with forest.

Richard was glad to be in Côte du Rhône country: his favourite wine. (At least, when I buy him red wine, I know I can’t go wrong with is.)

Winding roads took us to La Roque-sur-Céze.

The photos can’t really do justice to the picturesque beauty of this tiny place. A lane leads along the river which has carved its course through limestone. Nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, channels were cut to harness the water’s power to drive a flour mill. It worked for only a couple of decades: today, all that is left is a ruined mill house, trees growing through the windows, and remnants of the work.

Now, the river is an attractive leisure activity. More people than we have seen in one place since Bédoin market thronged the shores, with a wonderful disregard for official advice....

 Crossing the river was an interesting exercise. The bridge is a road bridge, but wide enough only for vehicles less than 2m in width. The police were on hand, to turn back unwary campervans and other large vehicles.  As for pedestrians... we had to time our crossing to coincide with the traffic lights, hurrying between two platforms cut out from the roadway to allow cars to pass, for the bridge was so narrow that it was barely possible to flatten oneself against the side.
Pickle is never impressed by ground, with gaps in, which shakes when you put a paw on it...aka boards.

The village was busy with tourists: pedestrians only, for no cars are allowed except for official residents. Narrow, impossibly steep cobbled streets; covered archways; hidden corners; a chateau atop the rock, with Gothic chapel; amazing views. Steeped in artistic history, a village beloved of painters and writers who fell in love with it and made their home there.

Not exactly what we had expected when we read it was one of the ‘plus beau villages’. No, much more so...

Mont Ventoux in the distance. We really haven't travelled very far at all...

And, always, there are the flowers...

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