Provence in the Sun: Martigues to Uzes - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 6, 2014

Provence in the Sun: Martigues to Uzes

The tent has survived the night intact. This morning is calm and I'm far enough west out of Marseille to easily navigate my way onwards using my ten-kilometre-to-the-centimetre Michelin map.

The first twenty kilometres continues up and down a little bit in from the coast. One of the climbs goes up to 122 metres, then drops down to sea level to climb another hill ahead. It being a Sunday morning, there are groups of club cyclists out.

I reach Martigues around nine and take a turning for a place called Laval, passing underneath the motorway high-up on a viaduct overhead. A cyclist passes me and I continue behind him, missing the turning for Laval, which I couldn't have taken anyway, because it is a slip road onto the motorway. Following the cyclist round a roundabout, then turning left pass an oil refinery, then a power station and towards a waterfront where I realise I'm on a road to nowhere.

I catch the cyclist at a red-light and ask the way. When I say I'm going north towards Avignon he replies in English "Oh this is a bad way. It is impossible. You most return to Martigues, how do you say... centrum. Then turn at the third red flag." He looks at my loaded bike and says "I toured Sweden in 1968. That was the year before I got married" he chuckles. "I ave not had time since."

Martigues is a pleasant town with a calm river through the middle. Here there is a Carrefour open Sunday morning where I stock up. The road onwards is to Salon and by noon I'm in typical Provencial countryside of vineyards and fruit orchards and the smell of insecticide in the warm air. I pass through a couple of timeless villages, so unlike where I'd been the day before around Marseille and Aix-En-Provence.

I was glad to be cycling through quiet villages like this one.
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I stop in one. It is three in the afternoon, warm and sunny and the people sitting round tables in the square are too enticing to pass. I want to be one of them sitting there and watching the world pass them by in this very traditional French village. So for a leisurely time, I sit and drink my café cream and catch up with diary writing; then have a second coffee and watch other cyclists pass; and, a cycling couple stop to look over my bike. The man shouts over "I'm just explaining to her (his partner) how it works" while focusing on the bar-end gear-lever.

My route onwards takes me along pleasant leafy D roads, through flat countryside between Arles and Avignon, and over a suspension bridge across the river Rhone. Then north pass the town of Beaucaire; shortly after which, I reach the first of the hills, the beginning of the Massif Central, the mountainous area as the name implies in the centre of France.

As it grows late, it looks like it may be difficult finding a place to camp as its all most continuous farms and vineyards to the side, until I come to a roundabout near the town of Uzes, where there is an amemities picnic park with tables and bike parking with a hedge screening it from the road, so here I stop for the night.

Later in the day, once I'd crossed the Rhone.
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Camping in a picnic park.
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Today's ride: 107 km (66 miles)
Total: 13,476 km (8,369 miles)

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