Day 49 – Appendage – We return to Aigues-Mortes for a History lesson or two.

So I’m not sure why, but I have been reading about Aigues-Mortes. You may remember that this is the fortified town in the middle of the salt flats, In which we stopped for lunch a couple days ago.  I have been trying to get a translation of the name into English.  

“Aigues” translates to  “Acute” and “Mortes” is “Dead”, Mort is “Death” and “Morte” is “Dead Woman”. Also there might be a link to  “ægis” which was supposed to be the shield of Zeus, which he gave to his daughter. It has also been known as a goat skin, which some warriors wore over the left arm for protection.
So I figured to it could be a “shield from death”. Or “Stagnant Water” or just “Actue Death”.

Of course I could have saved myself a lot of time and just looked It up on Wiki to get the following.
Attested in the Latinized form Aquae Mortuaein 1248.
The name comes from the Occitan Aigas Mortas meaning “dead water”, or “stagnant water” equivalent to toponymic types in the Morteau Oil dialect cf. Morteau (Doubs): mortua Aqua (1105, VTF521) and Morteaue (Haute-Marne): mortua Aqua (1163, VTF521).
The name comes from the Aigues-Mortes marshes and ponds that stretch around the village and also the fact that there has never been potable water at Aigues-Mortes.

There are a couple more history lesson from Aigues-Mortes,

  • Many attempts we’re made to build a canal system that linked Aigues-Mortes to the sea but they all eventually silted up. This was mainly due to deforestation above and in the Rhonè Valley. This lead to the topsoil being eroded and washed down rivers to silt the canal.  Here is a report from 1804 the prefect “Mr. de Barante père” wrote in a report[17] that: “The coasts of this department are more prone to silting … The ports of Maguelonne and Aigues Mortes and the old port of Cette no longer exist except in history” he alerted: “An inordinate desire to collect and multiply these forest clearings since 1790 … Greed has devoured in a few years the resource of the future, the mountains, opened to the plough, show that soon naked and barren rock, each groove becoming a ravine; the topsoil, driven by storms, has been brought into the rivers, and thence into the lower parts, where it serves every day to find the lowest parts and the darkest swamps.”

It seems that we have not learned many lessons about man’s impact on our environment and the world as a whole.

  • Argues-Mortes was the place where “The Massacre of the Italians” took place in 1893,. It took place over a period of two days and left 8 Italians dead and over 50 seriously and injured to over 50. It seems that due to a recession and a call for workers to harvest of the salt, lead to friction between the local workers known as the , “Ardèche” and the Itaian workers “Piedmontese”. They were forced to work together and a fight broke out between a couple of groups which quickly turned into a struggle of Honour between the two groups. This was not helped by the Nationalists Major who gave official speeches on the pride of being French incited the outcasts of the Republic to fight against foreigners?. Seems that Nationalism always seems to lead to a bit of a duff up. 

Take note, all you little Englanders.

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Day 51 – Avignon by bike and foot

Today we are taking a rest day and have camped just outside of Avignon. We rode in to do the sightseeing thing. It is very nice clean and has some lovely lanes to stroll around. We also checked out the train timetables for our trip to Lyon. From the ramparts of the old castle you can get a view of Mount Ventoux. You can’t see it in the photo, but to the naked eye it is quite something and the clouds topping it are great. I think it would be chilly up there today. PS. it’s mostly under the big white cloud.

 It now seems that we will have to comeback another time to ride it, but we did get to see it. We are pondering what to do now. We only have one more say of cycling before we board the train for Lyon and a two night stay, in which we will sort bike box’s and then fly home. I’m sure we will comeup with something to do. Here are a few photos.

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Day 50 – The long slog homeward

Last night we stayed in possible the worst campsite of the whole trip. The less said about it the better. Although it was very close to the centre of Arles so we were able to cycle in and have a burger. We were up late due to a long ride yesterday. I also had to cycle to the nearby Aldi to get some milk and croissants for breakfast. We did eventually get on the road at about lunchtime. Google reported that it would be 38km ride.  The reality was over 50km avoiding the unridable tracks Google tried to take us along. So again a varied route of roads unridable tracks and lovely quite vineyard roads. Not a lot else to say about the ride. We are now in Avignon and on  nice campsite. I had a plan to cycle over to Mount Ventoux but I think I have been Vetoed. here are some photos of our ride.

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Day 49 – Its foggy, that’s something new. Death, Salt and the Spainish Inquisition.

I was talking To Paul Mason on the bike ride yesterday about the weather and the general feel of this blog. The point I was trying to make is that it sometimes feels a bit negative. I write about the rain, the hills, the indifferent service, and the fact that France regularly closes. But the truth is that we are having a great time and the country is spectacular. The people we have met along the way have been very friendly and in most parts very helpful, with two exception, “waitress in micro brewery bar and a Bretton man by Bourdoux” We have only not rode our bikes due to poor weather “possibly twice”. 

Our ride took us firstly through some sandy paths and then onto a major dual carriageway. Which scared the crap out of Bettie but it had a great hard shoulder. It was a bit like riding along the hard shoulder of the M4:-(. Eventually we got  onto a bike path of the Rhone Setè canal and then onto the Rhone itself. We have now made it to Arles which is famed for inspiring some of the paintings of Van Gogh. Also a couple of  thousand years of history as well. 

We stopped for lunch in Aigues Mortes.

Which is a fortified town. I looked up the meaning, useing Google translate,  the literal translations comes up as Acute Death. A further bit of Google’ing and a better translation might be Stagnant Marsh/water. Anyway there is a whole lot of History to be had here. It goes back beyond the Crusades. 

“No more Monty Python” 


“No one expects the Spainish inquisition”.

Well I have posted many times about France closing on a Sunday well it seems that this doesn’t count in the Staganat water place here is the evidence.

After lunch we pressed on. and a discussion about the length of today’s ride lead to a “short sharpe discussion followed by a long silence” 

We finaly arrived at Arles. Anothe city full of history and Van Gogh again. The campsite is not great but we are only here for a night so no big deal. I wanted to cycle back into town for some food I had seen a burger bar selling Bio food, they did veggie burgers. An hour or so later Bettie and I are chopping down on some of the best Veggie burgers we have had.

 Here are some photos of today’s ride.

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Day 48 – It’s quite hot now!

It feels like the trip is coming towards its conclusion.  We are back down on the Med and getting close to Mont Ventoux. Unfortunately we have run out of time to be able to summit it and ride the Gorge du Verdon. This is a shame, although it does give us a good excuse to come back sometime. From here we will head along the coast and around Montpellier and then head up the Rhone valley to Nimes and Avigon.

Today’s ride was not quite what I expected. We spotted a bike path just outside the campsite and chose to follow it. 50km later and a couple of roads we are at the campsite. Yes that’s about 45km of bike path we fillowed. We did try to get into 3 campsite that have already closed for the season. Quite rightly too. Who would want to stay 100m from the Med in September when it’s only 27°C. It feels like the South of France is closing down. I guess it’s all about economics but I didn’t take that at school, “Actualy that subject was a thing when I was at school”.  So a flat 50km ride with some great views. Here are some photos.

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Day 47 – Labels, Germolene, Weight and Drag

So I have been thinking about the lables I have been cutting out of our clothes, silk sleeping bag liners, bags, etc. This has lead me to think about Greg LeMond and Luarent Fignon. What?

As all keen cycling fans know, Fignon lead LeMond by 50 seconds going into the final day of the 1989 Tour De France. Which this year was a 24.5km time trial. To cut a long story short LeMond gained 58 seconds on Fignon and win the Tour by 8 seconds. More information here.

You may be asking what’s this got to do with lables, germolene and drag? 

Well LeMond was ahead of his time and used a set of clamp on aero bars and a semi areo helmet on his road bike. Fignon had just the cowhorn type bars which has a minor effect on drag. Although this is not what made the major difference, it was the fact that Fignon had a ponytail flapping about behind his head that caused enough drag to loose him 25 seconds and therefore the Tour Dr France. Maybe!!!

So we get to my lables and the Germolene. It turns out the Bettie and I have “four” yes “four” tubes of Germolene between us. So my lable cutting has been to no avail. But worst than this I have been dragging a bloody Yellow flag behind me for the last 2000km. see flag. 

This must have lost me 2 hours on the tour so far. What chance have I got?

Well onto today’s ride. This is what I call  good ride  profile.

Paul rode with us for the first 38km and then turned back to sort the house as Barbara was due to arrive tomorrow and he needed to stay in the good books. Bettie and I pressed on to Mèze to camp for the night before heading up towards Lyon and our flight home. here are some photos from today

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Day 45 & 46 – Climbing Climbing Climbing

Today we are going to visit a friend from England. The only problem is that they live on top of a bloody great hill. So we headed in land from the coast with the aim to meet Paul in Roujan where he would guide us the last 17km to there House in the hills. I had hatched a plan to avoid the major roads and follow a combination of Google maps and the proposed Garmin route. This s was a big mistake as it tools us along a succession of these roads

After about 10km we decided to just take the most direct route to meet Paul. 30km later and we meet Paul in an Intermarch carpark which had a coffee shop. The next 17km were more than generally uphills. See Strava track (see wiggles at end of ride). This equates to a 300m climb that I could have done without.

Here are some photos of the ride and views

The village is as remote as you can get and the lack of background noise is great. No cars, no planes, no trains, just sound of barking dogs.

We went for a walk and drive to see some of the hills and landscape is great if a bit dry at this time of year.

It’s been great to spend a couple of nights/days off the bike and impinge on Paul’s hospitality, just a same Barbara couldn’t be here.

Tomorrow we will be back on the bike and heading back to the sea before heading north to Lyon.

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