Day 2 - Albon to Valence - Roaming the ViaRhona - Tandem Tour - September 2021 - CycleBlaze

September 19, 2021

Day 2 - Albon to Valence

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Before talking about today, I need to go back to cover last night’s dinner at the Domaine des Buis.  4 courses of excellent food, accompanied by a bottle of the local wine, a Saint Joseph.  A really lovely evening.   We slept well!

This morning, it was back down to the dining room for breakfast, which was good but not as amazing as the day before.   It rained overnight and there was no inside storage for our bike, so it got a free bike wash.  Our spiffy new seat covers kept our leather seats from disaster, so all was well.

No stars for the bike storage option at the Domaine des Buis
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We packed up and were on the road by 10AM.   Not bad for us!

Leaving the Domaine des Buis
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Rich had seen a reference to a 12th century church that was nearby, so routed us uphill to go take a look at it before we dropped back down to the river and the ViaRhona.  What Rich didn’t know was that the church had been completely destroyed in the wars of religion in the 1500s and was rebuilt in the 18th century.  And plus it was locked up tight.  Lots of climbing for nothing, but the outside was nice at least!

We sailed down the hills toward the river and hooked back up with the ViaRhona after some bushwhacking that involved a gravel road, two sets of temporary fences, and some clandestine movement of fence panels.  Some stings from stinging nettles were also part of the adventure, but we eventually got back on track.

We crossed the river on the bridge at Saint-Vallier.

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The biking infrastructure on the ViaRhona is really great - some of the best we’ve seen in France.  Add in the beautiful valley we were riding through, and the riding rivals what you find along the Danube in Austria.  On the few occasions where we had to ride close to a road, we felt well-protected.

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We spent most of our time well away from roads, though, and the scenery was beautiful.

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This picture gives a great summary view of what the riding was like, including the fantastic road surfaces. It was like a magic carpet!
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Coming into Tournon-sur-Rhône, we spied an open bakery and nabbed a sandwich.   We rode a bit further to where the riverbank had been turned into a park and split out sandwich on a park bench with a great view of passers-by and boats on the river.  A flea market was in process under the giant plane trees and the river pathway was buzzing with activity.

Lunch Stop!
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We even got to see one of the giant riverboats come in and dock.  Rich and several nearby small boys watched with great interest.  Great entertainment for certain types of little kids!

Docking boats!
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OK, lunch was done.  Back onto the bike and kilometers of more beautiful bike path.

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We eventually wound our way into La-Roche-de-Glun, where Rich had seen a monument called the “Tour de Diane de Poitiers”.  Worth exploring, although there wasn’t much information about it online.  We started out riding through this medieval gate, which is just stuck between two houses.  Pretty cool.

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The Tower of Diane de Poitiers will stay an enigma.  We definitely found it, and it’s definitely a tower of the right age, but there was no plaque explaining it.   Just a generic historic site sign.   It looks like the village library resides in this old, old tower.  What its connection with Diane de Poitiers is will remain a mystery to us - at least until we get better at Google searches.

The Tower of Diane de Poitiers, La-Roche-de-Glun.
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More river, more great paths, and we motored along toward Valence, out destination for today.  One bridge kind of took my breath away.

All this for bikes and pedestrians? Amazing!
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Despite our main navigation computer dying, we slipped into Valence with no problem.  Robin switched over to Rich’s iPhone and navigated us to the hotel without missing a beat.  We arrived just in time for our 3:00 checkin. Well done, Frasiers!

At the Hotel de France, we were greeted by the world’s chirpiest and sweetest hotel clerk, who guided us to the dedicated, locked bike garage and got us quickly installed into our room.   After cleaning up, we wandered out to check out Valence on a misty Sunday afternoon.

Valence is another layer cake of architecture and history, but is missing the visible Roman element that Vienne has.  On the other hand, Valence has the car thing completely under control.  The tourist office was closed so we used Google Maps and Wikipedia to create an on-the-fly walking tour of old Valence.  We started with the church…. 

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Continued with the Pendetif, a 15th century funerary monument…

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Checked out some really cool old streets with hodgepodges of building styles….

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And ended up at the Maison des Têtes (House of Heads), which appears to be Valence’s most famous building.  Architecture showing the transition from Flamboyant Gothic to Renaissance (according to Wikipedia).

It’s named after the heads at the bottom. Don’t know who they are, though.
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A lady was giving a detailed exposition of the architecture in the courtyard, but it was so noisy we couldn’t really understand her.  Situations like this show the limitations of our French.  We have so much to learn…

More of the Maison de Têtes.
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Along the way we popped into an interesting-looking restaurant that actually looked like it would be open tonight (Sunday).  They cheerfully gave us a reservation, so we’re eating at the Bistro des Clercs tonight.

This must have woken Robin’s stomach up, so we went in search of ice cream.  The only ice cream we could find on this Sunday afternoon was Ben and Jerry’s.  No vanilla, so Rich didn’t bother, and Robin was unimpressed with her Caramel swirl something-or-other.  I guess we’re spoiled gelato snobs now?  How insufferable we’ve become.

Some more modern, but still ornate decorated facades. This one from the 19th century. Concrete ages a bit better than limestone.
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By this time, we were ready for a break, so headed back to our hotel room.  Time to work on the journal and rest from the day’s exertions.

When the dinner hour rolled around, we went back to the Bistrot des Clercs for a great French bistro meal.  Scallops for Robin and mussels with frites for Rich.  A nice pitcher of local wine and some coffees with little desserts nibbles to finish off.  Time for bed.

Today's ride: 54 km (34 miles)
Total: 107 km (66 miles)

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Keith KleinHi,
Valence is great for dining. I think that the presence of a Michelin three-star (Maison Pic) brings up the level of all the local restaurants. You can find a few Roman vestiges in some of the walls around the city if you look hard enough, but it’s nothing like Vienne. It’s also near Valence that the Mistral can first be felt on the way south. At least you’re headed in the right direction.
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1 year ago
Rachael AndersonLooks like great cycling. I’m looking forward to bicycling in France next year!
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1 year ago