Day Fifteen: Valence to Rochemaure - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

April 11, 2017

Day Fifteen: Valence to Rochemaure

Valence to Rochemaur on the Via Rhona
Heart 0 Comment 0

Valence is not a huge place, but it still has some buildings with a quite Parisian air. One in particular was not Parisian but just unique. It is a place called the Maison des Tetes, because of the various heads carved onto the exterior. The place was built in 1530 and is said to be a transitional style between gothic and renaissance.

Rather Parisian buildings in Valence
Heart 0 Comment 0
More nice buildings in Valence
Heart 0 Comment 0
The "House of Heads"
Heart 0 Comment 0

The main attraction for us in Valence was the cathedrale (ok, maybe the main attraction was raspberry croissants, see below). This was consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urbain II, but we think what we were looking at was a 17th century reconstruction, following the Wars of Religion. In our search for relics, this place has two.

Raspberry croissant - a rare item, we think
Heart 0 Comment 0

The first is a bust concealing some remains of Pope Pius VI, who died in Valence in 1799. The story is that troops of Napolean defeated the Papal States in 1796. Pius VI refused to relinquish his temporal power and got taken prisoner, eventually being deported to Valence, where he died. For some reason his body was embalmed but not buried, until Napolean decided to get on with it in 1800. But in 1802 it was removed from Valence and buried in Rome. It rested there until in 1949 Pius XII had it moved to a presumably better spot.

Notwithstanding, we have a guide book that claims that the entrails and heart of Pius VI are in Valence, within the bust of him at the cathedral.

The second relic is also a weird one. These are the remains of "Eutychiana", which seems to be a random lady that someone gave to the church. The church info sheet, very detailed in other respects, seems to know little about her. Still she has a wax effigy and qualified as a relic in a side chapel. Ok, sure.

The final attraction in Saint Apollinaire was some columns with 3D brocade type golden decoration. Maybe we are reaching a bit to be impressed by this bit of Valence, but there you have it.

Oh, one last thing. The columns frame a painting of the Last Supper, not sure by who. But we have read that it is not just Da Vinci who has painting in someone to Jesus' right that could be a woman. We can see it in this version as well. It's interesting, as we head toward the south, Cathar and "Holy Grail" country.

The mysterious bust of Pius VI
Heart 0 Comment 0
Behind the bust, the papal crown. Not sure what the strange figure is up to.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The throwaway relic of "Eutychiana"
Heart 0 Comment 0
Ornate columns frame a version of the Last Supper
Heart 0 Comment 0
Mr.and Mrs. Jesus?
Heart 0 Comment 0

Leaving Valence and heading out on the Via Rhona, down the river, we found that unlike our memory from 2013 when we did this same bit, the Via Rhona was perfectly marked. Also, there was lots of trail that ran beside the river, giving a good chance to feel acquainted with it.

For the first time on this tour, we also began to notice a significant number of other touring cyclists - about a dozen all told during the day. None wanted to stop or talk, so we could only guess their stories from how they said hello (or not). It's amazing how much you can deduce from just one word - the person's country of origin and language, frame of mind, age, etc.Then you look at their bags - make, age, quantity and make further deductions about what they are up to. It would be easier of course to just talk to them. Anyway we judged most to be French and to be on multi-day but not terribly long trips.

This region has lots of cherries and peaches plus kiwi but no grape vines.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The route often was right by the Rhone
Heart 0 Comment 0
Lots of touring cyclists on the trail today
Heart 0 Comment 0

Near La Voulte we came upon a "welcome cyclists" type sign put up by Ibis hotels. The sign illustrated ccoffee, muffins, food, drinks, and treats, all of which seemed particularly attractive at the moment. Around the corner from the sign we found not one but two Ibis hotels. Unusually, one was an Ibis budget and the other an Ibis styles, eac at its own price point. It's common to have rooms at different prices in a given hotel, but here were differently branded and priced ones, glued together in the same building. The sign seemed so welcoming that if it had not been mid-day I would have tried out one or the other.

La Voulte is a small town with a large chateau
Heart 0 Comment 0
Welcome cyclists - we like signs like that
Heart 0 Comment 0
Say what? We checked the GPS and went right.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The twin Ibis hotels
Heart 0 Comment 0

Across the street from this twin Ibis puzzle was a twin ViaRhona sign puzzle. The first sign pointed right for ViaRhona and the second sign pointed left for "toward" ViaRhona. Say what? We went right.

ViaRhona shortly treated us to another sign, saying that it was ending, near the village of Baix. We looked at the beautiful newly paved path before us, and guffawed. We were not so amused when the path ended at the backend of a construction vehicle, and we got thrown onto a no shoulder road with moderate traffic for 5 km. The route had quickly gone from family romp level to expert. However, it soon returned to being a quiet, paved path. That interlude, though, would have been big trouble for anyone with kids. Large signs said they are working on it.

Probably old signs, right?
Heart 0 Comment 0
Because this lovely route looks just completed.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Oh crap!
Heart 0 Comment 0
Back on the highway.
Heart 0 Comment 0
In Baix, a unique house just standing there.
Heart 0 Comment 0

At Cruas-Meysse we encountered yet another nuclear electric plant. It's amazing just how close you can get/have to get as the bike route passes by. This time we could see and hear (but fortunately not feel) sprays of water emanating from the bases of the cooling towers. The cooling towers are just the most visible part of the operation. I found myself wondering which of the other buildings actually housed the fuel rods and which would be the ones to blow in case of emergency. While the whole huge emplacement did have rolls of quality razor wire, it did not seem particularly, or at all, guarded. Hopefully that was an appearance only. Dodie did spot that they have an info centre on site, and speculated about getting them to stamp our creanciales. We presume that such a stamp would glow in the dark!

Near Montelimar is the town of Rochmaure. It has a huge looming castle, built in the 11th or 12th century and intended to control and tax both sides of the Rhone. We decided to call it quits here and to only hit Montelimar in the morning. Montelimar is Nougat central, and we want to be as fresh as possible for that!

The towers are impressive but I suspect the real guts are in concrete blockhouses.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Well, that's good to know. It is not possible to actually follow these occasional signs.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Rochemaur huddles under a large castle.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 702 km (436 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0