• James & Kate

We are not alone

Just yesterday, we were reflecting how incredible it was that during about 30 days of cycling, almost every hour of it (bar a handful) has been incredibly picturesque. From rustic fields of crops, manicured vineyards, historic Châteaux, dramatic gorges and now fields of lavender. Normally on a day’s ride you’ve done well if half of the scenery has been beautiful, but this route has been consistently lovely.

And so of course we jinxed it. Our route today seemed to go from one big roundabout to another, through roadworks, past big supermarkets (although that was handy for finding some cheap replacement sunglasses) and over and under some big-ass motorways.

It improved considerably after a morning stop in Valensole, the heart of Provence’s lavender-growing industry. Winding up through deciduous forests and then alongside huge fields of the purple herb, we were back in idyllic countryside.

Trouble was, we were not alone. There was a never-ending line of cars, campervans, motorbikes and even big tourist coaches all on the same route - and the fields of lavender looked more like photoshoot sets as people swarmed all over them. By the way, I’ve worked out that 90% of motorcyclists fit into two categories: nice pricks who will deign to give you a tiny bit of space as they roar past, and massive pricks who come unnecessarily close and rev their engines an extra bit just to make themselves feel more manly as they overtake something without an engine. But make no mistake, 90% are pricks.

Still, no matter the journey our destination was definitely worth it. Beautiful Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is carved into a rocky outcrop, and has origins dating back to the 5th century when monks dwelled in the cliff side caves. A giant star hangs above this pastel-shaded little village, on a wire stretched between two rocky peaks: legend has it that a knight captured during the Crusades vowed that if he ever made it back home to Moustiers he would place a star above the village. The current star dates to 1827 so either that guy had superhuman levels of ageing and patience, or the star is there in his honour.

Either way, between the dramatic backdrop of the mountains, the colourful prettiness of the village itself, and the small waterfall near our B&B (complete with energetic local dog), it’s a perfect place to end any journey.

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