In Hyeres: walking the Route de Sel - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

November 11, 2018

In Hyeres: walking the Route de Sel

Another very fine day.  Like our day visiting Saint-Tropez, it looked likely to be too wet to ride so we planned a walking outing instead.  And, like in Saint-Tropez, the rains never really amounted to much and we enjoyed a great walk that we might have missed out on otherwise.

We should have known this would be a good day though, because it certainly began well when we entered the breakfast hall and found a work of art assembled before us.  It was a unique breakfast, consisting of very small servings of many different things: a fig, a prune, a date, a small cup of yoghurt topped with slivered almonds, a light crepe.  It reminded me of meals in Japanese ryokans, featuring great diversity in small quantities.  And, it’s a ten-jammer!

Ooh!
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Breakfast nirvana: we find the mythical ten jammer!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesWow, you are right - an absolute ten jammer!

By the way, An Autumn by the Sea will now surpass the wonderful Grampies Tour de France in hearts. Dodie says that's because the photos are much superior. Grrr.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesOddly enough, I don’t even care for jam so much and don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Rachael did us proud though.

And yes, I did notice that we’re moving up the charts. Today the Grampies, tomorrow the Grumbys! And shame on Dodie, who should show more team loyalty. We hope her recovery is still progressing well though.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyI thought you probably out-hearted us a long time ago!!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyNope we’re still a bit heart less. Pretty tough, competing with a singing cowboy!
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1 month ago

South of Hyeres is a narrow spit connecting the mainland to Giens, on a small splotch of land that is all but an island.  The spit borders a shallow lagoon, with a road on the east side and a footpath, the Route de Sel, on the west.  We biked down to the spit, thinking we would continue biking to Giens and lock up there, but it soon became obvious that it would be impractical.  The path is paved, but overlaid for most of its length by deep drifts of sand and shredded kelp.  Instead, we locked them up at the head of the spit and walked across.

It ended up being a healthy walk - the spit is three miles long, and we put a few miles in on the peninsula while we were there also.  In all, it was about a ten mile hike, the longest I’ve taken in quite some time.  The walk itself was terrific.  The spit is a fascinating place to walk: on one side is the lagoon, on the other the sea.  You can go back and forth, walking on the lagoon-side path for awhile, and then crossing over to the beach.

The peninsula too is quite beautiful, worth more time than we allowed for it.  It’s la ge enough that we could have done a complete hike just here, but we were happy to just walk up to the village center for a light lunch (to light, actually), followed by a walk to the south shore for a look around its colorful small port.

The outing as a whole was great.  One thing we are enjoying about traveling off season is that we’re getting more diversity in our days.  We’re biking when we can, but we’re fitting in more walks and urban rambles than we normally do.

This overview map at the trailhead encompasses our day’s outing. We biked from the city center to the red star, walked the three mile passe-pied (foot passage) across the spit, made a loop through the center of Giens, and returned the way we came.
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We came prepared, but we didn’t need our umbrellas for long. We felt good having them along though - an open three mile spit is a lot of exposure if a real rainstorm commenced.
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Along the Route de Sel
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The view back to the mainland
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We were excited by a close up view of this Eurasian curlew walking along the berm by the lagoon. We saw it soon after we began walking, and thought we might be seeing many shorebirds today. Nope - this was the first and last one, save for the flamingoes.
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We hoped we would see flamingoes out here! There were a few hundred scattered about the lagoon, and a few close in enough to get a good look at.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesOne of our favourite birds.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesOurs also. Beautiful, with fascinating behavior. I love watching them shuffle along the bay, kicking up their dinner supply.
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1 month ago
Another mystery plant
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We’re nearing the end of the spit here. It’s a bit sheltered, and the water is much calmer than it was a mile back.
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Looking back, and west along the coast a ways. We’re heading that way tomorrow, hoping the weather improves a bit.
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Along much of the spit, the sea side is lined with small dunes of shredded kelp.
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Who knows why I’m standing erect, but the sea is all spilling out on the left. One of those mysteries.
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This cute guy is a fine chaser but a weak retriever. We watched him chase after four hurled sticks, but he failed to return with any of them.
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I couldn’t tell what this couple was doing. I watched them wade through the shallows staring down into the water, but maybe they were just out for a nice walk.
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Doing the limbo. Rachael has a shot of me crawling under this too, taken from behind. I’ll spare you.
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The coastline here is rugged, lined with steep cliffs, quite beautiful. We would have liked to walk along them, but the littoral trail was barricaded as unsafe.
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Tending the nets, Port de Niel
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Admiring the coastline, Port de Niel
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I should do some research on the history of this place. This looks like these could have been salt pans.
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The flamingoes were still right where we left them a few hours ago. This is a youngster, who hasn’t taken on his coloring yet.
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Nearing our bikes again, which happily were still locked up where we optimistically left them five hours ago.
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Tight rope boot camp
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Hyeres looks like it would be a fine place to explore.  Surprisingly though, even though we were here two nights we never got out to explore during the day.  That’s one of the consequences of biking this late in the season - the days are much shorter, and it gets dark soon after five.  We need to do a better job of heading back out as soon as we’ve checked into our room.

Here though are at least a few pictures of the place, taken as we walked back out for dinner.  It’s Armistice Day today, few places are open and it’s very quiet.  We were happy to find a restaurant open, after finding most of them dark.

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Today's ride: 7 miles (11 km)
Total: 2,333 miles (3,755 km)

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Gregory GarceauHello again Scott and Rocky,

I've fallen behind so I had to cycle-blaze through the last 20 pages or so of your journal, trying to catch up with your travels. You guys are definitely some amazing cycle-blazers living the bike touring dream. I know I, for one, dream about Italy and France, the French Riviera, the historic cities, the culture, the food, the wine, the beautiful mountains and sea. (Amazing pictures, by the way. Your best yet, I think.)

Saint Tropez made me think of the dreamy Pink Floyd song by that name. I cued it up on my turntable this morning and thought of you when I heard the lyric:

"Sooner than wait for,
A break in the weather,
I'll gather my far flung,
Thoughts together,
Speeding away,
On the wind to a new day."

One more thing: I remember you met Ciska K and Michael Verhage on your last trip. Not sure if you saw they just ended their 10-year long bike trip.

Anyway, keep on gathering your thoughts together and cycleblazing away, on the wind to a new day.

Greg
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauI’ve never heard this song, but what a lovely sentiment. I think I’ll steal it for our next entry.

It does feel like we’re living the dream right now, alright. We’re well aware of how lucky we are, in so many ways. So many days seem exceptional and unique. Live it while it lasts.

Yup, I heard about Michael and Ciska - Andrea Brown tipped us off to it. I lost my privileges on Crazy Guy of course, but you might let th m know we’re thinking of them and wish them well in their new chapter. Talk about living the dream!

Cheers,
Scott
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1 month ago