Crest to Nyons: Into Olive and Lavender Country - French Alps 2017 - CycleBlaze

May 28, 2017

Crest to Nyons: Into Olive and Lavender Country

We were fed yet another beautiful petit dejeuner at the chambre d'hote in Crest, sur la terrace. Food is served with such pride and is always produced locally. There are a lot of nuts (walnuts and hazelnuts) grown here and they make their way into the breads served each morning. Confitures are made in house, cheeses are from the region and fresh picked strawberries, cherries or apricots are often served.

We headed off in the direction of Nyons, crossing the Eygues river and then through gently rolling terrain before turning south. We enjoyed the vistas of the river valley with acres and acres of olive trees in bloom and vineyards of all ages. We began a long gentle climb through a valley which was peppered with tiny villages whose restaurants were filled with patrons enjoying a leisurely lunch. There were two cols today, one seemed to take little effort and the second definitely took more work. Along the way, we encountered our first lavender field. Even without blooms, they are gorgeous. These were probably about hip height and will be magnificent when in bloom.

The lavender is looking very healthy and ready to burst imto bloom.
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The town of Saou was a treat, with its historic buildings adorned with rose bushes and flower boxes, all set against a backdrop of grey stone mountains. The central square featured a restaurant and tabac, plane trees for shade and a fountain, which is a common comfiguration here in France. We always pass these fountains by as a source of drinking water. However, a waiter was filling bottles for the adjacent restaurant so we dove in and replenished our supplies. Other cyclists soon joined in. In the old days, water was not so reliable here so it was a nice perk to enjoy.

Fresh icy cold water is free for all to indulge in so long as it doesn't indicate 'non-potable'. But, don't take my word for it.
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Looking back at Saou.
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By the time we summited the col de Sausse, we were feeling the heat. Luckily we had the gentle headwind again today so it kept us from overheating. Stops along the way in the shade also helped. We can only imagine how the carpets of lavender will look and smell in about a month.

The descent after col de Sausse through a valley draped in lavender fields.
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We had booked a small hotel in Nyons which we located easily. It took only minutes to check in, grab a cold orangina, kick off my shoes and socks, and sink into one of their chaise lounges in the shaded garden. Soon enough, all the sweat had dried off, we were showered and squeaky clean again and we were headed into town for dinner. We went for a simple but delicious pizza and salad combo.

Pizza and salad replenishes the calories and salt. That's emmenthal cheese on the pizza.
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This was the restaurant scene in Nyons. Although there were 5 or 6 restaurants to choose from, there were only 3 kitchens. The staff seemed to serve patrons up and down the street. We have experienced this before in France ("one big boss" was how the waiter described it to us) and it works just fine but I am sure it wouldn't happen where we live.

Small restaurants line the street in the old town of Nyons.
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Nyons is known for its olives. They were first cultivated here in 400 BC! It's a specail climate zone that makes this perfect for the type of black olives that grow here. There are many mills in the area and one of them is located along the Eygues river, adjacent to the impressive Roman bridge built in 1400. It was originally a toll bridge but today it is a beautiful single lane exit from the city.

Roman toll bridge over the Eygues, with the adjacent olive mill. A tour would have been great, but our timing was off.
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We strolled back to our room and after retiring, were asleep in no time.

Today's ride: 68 km (42 miles)
Total: 362 km (225 miles)

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