Day 3 - Valence to Mirmande - Roaming the ViaRhona Tandem Tour - September 2021 - CycleBlaze

September 20, 2021

Day 3 - Valence to Mirmande

Breakfast at the Hotel de France was amazing - one of the best we’ve had in France.  That’s 2 great hotel breakfasts after we had sworn them off based on our last trip.  In fact the Hotel de France is just amazing on a lot of levels.  Quiet, friendly and helpful staff, clean, and did I mention the great breakfast?  Recommended if you’re staying in Valence.

We had until 11AM to check out, and our hotel tonight doesn’t allow checkin before 5PM, so we took the opportunity to make a lightning strike on a nearby Monoprix to buy some clothing.  Rich forgot a belt (the 3rd trip he’s done that) and Robin needed a pair of socks.  After supporting the local economy, we rolled out of the hotel around 10:45.

Our first few minutes was spent traversing some of Valence’s wonderful parks, marveling at the beautiful places Valentines (that’s what they call themselves) have to recreate.

Nice park!
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The ViaRhona was well-signed here, and we were quickly down along the water with another beautiful section of path before us.

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After riding past more great parks and a marina, we crossed back over the Rhône on a bridge, well-protected as usual from car and truck traffic.  The river looked beautiful this morning.

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After stopping to admire what appears to be a graffiti contest on the bridge abutments, we headed south again with a slight tailwind.  It was cool this morning, so jackets were on.  No rain, though!

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We made a short stop to fix a mechanical issue - one of our brake pads had worked its way loose.  A nice park popped up just in time to host the process.

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As we floated south, we passed more than one barge headed upstream.  Fun to watch - wonder how they get the car off the back of the barge and onto solid land?

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Our next stop was the village of Beauchastel, which was designated a “village de charactère”.  At least that’s what one website said.  Rich had marked it for exploration.  Hmm…disappointing is an understatement.

We looked high and low but couldn’t find any character worth investigating.  Rich contented himself by taking pictures of some old doors.

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We sailed onward to our next stop, La Voulte-sur-Rhône, which made up for what poor Beauchastel lacked.   A pretty spectacular place.  It started with the view from the riverside.  A huge old fortress loomed over the town.  We just had to investigate!

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Investigating turned out to be somewhat challenging, involving pushing the bike up some incredibly steep stone streets, and also carrying it up a flight of stairs.   But we persevered and found some beautiful stuff up there.

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The first thing we found was a closed church, but there was a sweet little park next door with great views and benches.  A great place for our “not quite a lunch” of nuts and energy bars.  We do this when we’re not super hungry.  (Did I mention the great breakfast we had?).

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Robin poked her head around a corner, and led us to the courtyard of the chateau.  Unfortunately it wasn’t open, but at least there was an informative information panel posted on the fence outside.  If stones could talk…

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Turning around, we had a great view of the church.

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We found a better way down the hill and zipped back into town as the local moms were dropping their kids off at the school next to the chateau.  The mid-afternoon Grand Prix, we call it.   We then found our way onto the next challenge, a two lane (almost) bridge.  Most of the bridge was barely two lanes, but at each of the two bridge towers, the width was reduced to the point that only one car could pass.  No priority signage was evident, which led to some interesting games of chicken.  Not wanted to be flattened fowl, we waited for a long break in traffic and hustled across the bridge unmolested.

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Another look back at the chateau in La Voulte-sur-Rhône.

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And yet another look back from the other side of the bridge.  A town worth exploring.

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I know I’ve talked about how great the paths are, but its worth mentioning again.  We got back on the magic carpet and motored south.

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Eventually we turned east off of the ViaRhona toward today’s destination, the “Plus Beau Village” of Mirmande.   We could see it across the fields as we approached.

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The final approach was a good chunk of over 7 percent grade.  We were tired by the time we got to the Hotel de Mirmande, our stop for the night.  The hotel didn’t do checkins before 5PM and it was 3PM, so we found a little shop that sold drinks and installed ourselves at a table in front of the hotel to recuperate a bit.

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After recovering, we decided to leave the bike parked at the hotel and explore this village.  The designation of “Plus Beau Village” is given by an organization and requires the village to meet a bunch of criteria.  Not every village wants or can profit from the designation.  I think there are about 100 or so of them spread across France.  Whatever the criteria are, I think Mirmande meets them easily.  I’ll let Robin’s pictures do the explaining.

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We finally headed back to the hotel and waited a bit before the charming desk clerk lady showed up.   We got into our room, cleaned up, and relaxed until 7:30 when our dinner reservation was scheduled at the nearby Restaurant Margot, which is owned by the owners of the hotel and is the only dinner option in town on a Monday night.

Luckily the Restaurant Margot was awesome!   Topped off by a great crème brulé made with Reine Claude plums.  Robin said it was the best crème brulé she had ever had.  High praise!

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That’s all for tonight from the depths of the French countryside in Mirmande.  No whining mopeds will disturb our dreams up here, although the walls in the Hotel de Mirmande seem to be alarmingly thin for a 3 star hotel.  We’ll see what the night brings.

Today's ride: 44 km (27 miles)
Total: 151 km (94 miles)

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Rachael AndersonMiramande looks like a beautiful place and your photos are great!
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1 month ago
Keith KleinHi,
Now I know I must go back to that part of France to see some of the things I’ve missed! La vie est au plus belle dans un beau village!
Cheers,
Keith
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1 month ago