Day 5 and we woke up to blue skies and another 60 mile day in front of us. Immediately upon leaving Valence the landscape had a more Mediterranean feel, and although the terrain was still lumpy away from the river, the influence of the mountains was gone. The Mistral was blowing today, thankfully from the north making our journey a little easier, except when crossing the Rhone, which we did several times today. The first crossing being immediately as we left Valence. It was a lovely ride along the western bank, sometimes on cycle paths and sometimes on virtually traffic free farm roads through the fields and orchards. We saw other groups of cyclists doing the same route as us, but bypassed them in the village of Baix as some construction work to improve the path made navigation quite tricky. It was much easier to stick on the road ad look out for the path after leaving the village.
We crossed a very wobbly bridge, just for pedestrians and cyclists, where the farm road went through a ford. This is the south of France - there was no water. That money would have been better spent on some signage leaving Lyon! We passed another nuclear power station (in France most of their electricity is from nuclear and hydroelectric makes up a significant chunk of the rest) and the lovely hilltop village of Rochemaure, which upon leaving we had a new metal bridge, built on old towers. Very impressive for a cycle lane when there was a quiet road bridge about 100 metres away.
As we approached the nougat town of Montelimar, we met a couple of Dutch ladies on an epic adventure. A 3,500km tour lasting 3 months, all by bicycle, camping every night. Starting in Holland, they rode through the Belgian Ardennes, skirted the Vosges and Jura in France and followed the River Saon to Lyon before picking up the Via Rhona. They were going to follow the Via Rhona all the way to the coast, then continue along the Mediterranean to Narbonne before following the Canal du Midi to Bordeaux and then making their way home from there. Makes our 6-days, staying in hotels, look pathetic!
We crossed the river at Viviers, another impressive Provence-style hilltop village before our final stretch through a forest to Bourg Saint-Andeol where we said goodbye to the Via Rhona for the last couple of miles on the road to the Hotel La Caiman -no doubt named due to proximity to the Crocodile Farm. I hope they can't escape!
|We crossed the Rhone on this bridge at La Voulte sur Rhone|
|A wobbly bridge constructed to bypass the adjacent ford that probably only has water for one week a year!|
|Not a very exciting photo, but one that summed up the day. Blue sky, Provence-like scenery and bike path.|
|Another wobbly bridge, this time at Rochemaure. New construction built into ancient architecture|
|When you follow a river you see a lot of bridges, many have a similar style|