Day 5. La Foux d’Allos to Nice. 148 Kms, 92 miles.
So we have reached our half way ish point. The south coast of France, on the cote d’azure. Our trip so far has been fantastic, full of adventure and scenery and lovely wine and happy romantic times. I have been the official tour driver, and have now officially ridden 1770 Kilometers. Lena has ben the official tour photographer, and has taken more pictures than I have driven Kms. Some of her pics are linked in an earlier post, the rest I will sort through, caption and put into posts after the trip.
We started the day near the top of Allos pass, in a skiing hotel with wonderful views. These mountains are beyond superlatives, just raw nature in her full splendour. After breakfast and the usual pre-flight checks and routines, We headed down the large Alp that we had climbed the even before. We refuelled, and set off again from the village of Allos itself which was about 9 Kms below the resort that we had stayed in.
A brief diversion now, to consider satnav technology. I think satnavs are like women. If you ignore them slightly, they can heap scorn and punishment upon you, and not let you forget. But if you are wicked to them or ignore them completely, they reward you bountifully. Anyway, this is my experience, because the satnav tried to take us off road in Allos, and I ignored it, but it kept trying to suggest little roads and routes that seemed to be very much off our our general direction, so eventually I took one of the roads suggested.
My bike is very much a road bike, comfortable for touring, and good at speed, with road tyres built to slide over Tarmac and eat up miles. It is also rather cumbersome at the moment, heavily laden and slightly unbalanced with all our luggage, and the extra lass on the back. It handles fine on the roads, but we found ourselves riding up the steep side of an alpine valley, on a gravel track, badly in need of repair, and rutted in all directions. Plus, steep falls on one side, and harsh rock on the other. After 4 k’s of this riding, with no end in site, I decided that I want to go back to the main road. I was being fueled by adrenalin, my heart was pounding, and I was sure that we were going to slip and slide, either merely dumping the bike over in it’s side, or over the edge and down into the valley below, taking both of us on a pretty, but possibly deadly, short route to the bottom.
We turned around, and Lena walked down the steepest section while I gingerly guided the bike down, riding at about 8 Kms per hour. Eventually the track flattened out, she remounted, and we made our way back to civilization. At the town, we had to stop for me to regain my composure, and for my hands to stop shaking.
Setting off, now having adjusted the satnav not to offer us any unpaved roads ( I didn’t know it even had this setting until this point), we hurtled down more beautiful alpine roads, enjoying the curves and turns and wonderful views. We road through some lovely villages, and even though some of them only had about three houses, they each had a massive and beautiful church or abbey or equivalent.
Around lunchtime we stopped at a walled town called Entreveaux.
Look up its history, it is a very historic place in the alps, having been made a free royal city in 1542 by a grateful king, when it’s residents overthrew a pretender to the throne who had previously taken the town and slaughtered half the citizenry. A beautiful little town, walled and surrounded by a deep river crossing, it was very well fortified and you could easily see it’s strategic value and protection. We walked across the bridge, which was about 20 meters above the river, and into the old town. It was very hot by now, and we were really starting to enjoy the southern French weather.
The town itself was very typical of what you imagine it would have looked like hundred of years ago, with twisty streets, high narrow houses on either sides, and a few open areas plus a wider village square. We had lunch in a restaurant in the square. Rather incongruously, there was piped music throughout the town, playing dixieland jazz. It was very strange- it wasn’t just playing in the square, there were hidden speakers in various sectors, and Louis Armstrong and contemporaries kept one company wherever you went. It was rather bizarre actually.
Anyway, the place was really interesting, and we had a wander about after our food. Having taken a few more hundred pictures, we saddled up again and rode down the rest of the alpine ways, and eventually arrived in Nice, with its very very blue sea.
We are staying at a fab hotel, courtesy of my points gathered while living in a hotel in Oz last year. It is on the Promenade les Anglais, and our room overlooks the beach and town. We went to the roof top pool, but it was very full, so we went down to the sea and had a swim and a bit of tanning. Back for a shower, then had a lovely walk through Nice, which is a very pretty, but busy, city. Supper in an open square in the old market, then back to our hotel for the gift bottle of wine from the hotel, for being such special guests. Now we are about to go for breakfast on our way to the train to Monaco.