Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home Travel StoriesFrance 2013

France Day 10 - Deflated to Elated

By Sharon Parker

I awake in the middle of the night feeling rather sore all over. I wonder if my not feeling well has taken a turn for the worse and I am now having real serious aches and pains. But as my sleepy brain wakes up I realise the source of my discomfort is my airbed has gone flat. The bf re-inflates it again and it seems fine so I drift off back to sleep.
I wake up in the morning feeling much recovered and chirpier again. After a fun shower with the bf I am feeling even more brighter and the sun comes out to reflect my good mood. What a glorious morning.

sharon smiling in the sun stood next to the tent near nimes in france
Clean, refreshed and warm = very happy me

The bf is being very good to me this morning, he makes my breakfast and takes advantage of the sun by washing some clothes. All while I am left ito sunbathe and take it easy. But shush!! Don't tell anyone I have to be careful not to ruin the bf's bad boy image.

the bf posing like a bodybuilder by his fazer in the sunshine of france
Once again the bf proves he is unable to pose for the camera while the bikes proves it can double as a washing line.

I use the packed sleeping bags and air-beds as a very comfy sun-lounger and as we are in no rush this morning it is a very relaxed and slow decamp.

sharon in sunglasses and bike gear posing by a heavily loaded motorcycle in the sun
After a lovely slow start we are finally loaded up and ready for for the off.

Once on the road again our first destination is to be Nimes, just for a ride through and a look see. Nimes is large city with an eclectic mix of both modern new shiny high rises and charming old buildings. The two manage to merge rather dramatically in some places with one side of a road boasting modern and new and the other taking a rather large step back in time. I find it rather surreal but somewhat charming. As cities go I think Nimes is quirky and very likeable. It has the hustle and bustle of a modern town with students on its streets but turn a corner and your in a older town square with elderly people sitting at a cafe watching the world go by.

sharp modern building with open areas and trees, a part of nimes town centre
The modern face of Nimes

a busy broad french street with classic buildings either side in nimes
The older heart of Nimes

to the left of the street modern white apartment block, to the right old french terraces
Old and new collide

old buildings and french terraces mixed with modern offices in nimes
Old and new collide again.

After we leave Nimes behind the next destination is Millau. And boy oh boy what another fabulous route this is. We begin with long rather straight empty roads boarded by fields and mountains in the distance.

a long straight empty road vanishes into the distance in southern france's sunshine
Not having to concentrate too much on the traffic here gives a chance for the bf to admire the scenery

a red tiled town basking in sun and a tree covered mountain rises behined it in france
Charming villages nestle at the foot of the hills.

The only thing to blight this charming view is the copious amount of graffiti that adorns a lot of French unused buildings, bus shelters and bridges. Litter does not pose any problem but the French do seem like to paint on any available surface. Maybe it is their artistic temperament?

an old avert boarding has faded ads and large blue graffiti
Art and self expression or vandalism ?

It is so warm we experience an usual feeling...thirst. So we have a pit stop for a drink and a stretch.

the bf takes a drink from a bottle as the overloaded fazer cooks in the sun
Thirsty work having fun in the sun.

Our chosen stop off point is Ganges. We stop by a bridge and as such I expect to find a river. But the river bed is dry. Either natural or man made causes have clearly re-routed the river from its original home.*

old stone built bridge over dry river bad with some graffiti under the arches
The only purpose for the old bridge now is as a canvas for yet more graffiti

After Ganges the route begins to climb higher into the mountains and the road becomes ever more twisty and the scenery ever more beautiful. The mountains are once again a mass of trees of an amazing variety. I am truly loving this. This is fun time at it's very best.

thick trees cover a hill with a road winding through it on the way to millau
Thrills in the hills

stone built houses in the green countryside on the road to millau
As we twist and turn ever upwards pretty little mountain villages slip by.

We eventually see a little picnic area at the side of the road and stop for a another stretch. We are both buzzing. We are having a fantastic time today. This is living life to the max. We need desperately sometime in our adult lives to have playtime. We do this naturally as children but it is something we neglect at at own peril in adulthood. Today for us is a full on playtime and like all play it allows us to discover the magic all around us. The appearance of things can change depending on ones emotions and we are both lucky enough that today our spirits are as high as the mountains we are in. Thus we can truly appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

the bf stands overlooking mountain range with his camera in hand
Such beauty all around

yamaha fzs 600 fazer fully kitted up for touring on hill near millau
The amazing Fazer who carries us and our copious luggage and therefore makes this trip possible

We climb on ever higher and as the tress become more sparse and open fields appear I think this looks like sheep farming country. The moment I think this we turn a corner and are stopped in our tracks by a herd of sheep being moved from one field to another.

scrawny sheep on the road being herded into the field
Baa Baas

hard grasses and rocky outcrops at the side of the road
At a altitude of 825 meters the trees have all but disappeared

After going up and up we finally reach the top and then we begin to wind back down. We stop at a viewing point for The Millau Viaduct. What a view point, totally amazing. Millau can be seen nestled beneath the limestone plateaux and the Viaduct can be seen spanning an impressive stretch of the valley.

millau sits on the valley floor with the viaduct in the hazy far distance
Millau and it record breaking Viaduct

As we approach Millau it looks a very pretty place. We immediately have 3 campsites to chose from all next to the river. For no particular reason we opt for Camping Cote-Sud which is situated on the Dorbie, a tributary of the larger river Tarn. www.camping-cotesud.fr
A reasonable price of €13 is requested for a nights stay plus a returnable €20 deposit for the card that is required to operate the entrance barrier. I of course get put in charge of the card so if it gets lost it will all be my fault. Hmm clever man the bf.
The site has impressive views of the surrounding mountains. It is well planted with tress and the grass pitches are well maintained. It boasts a swimming pool and a children's play area. The shower block is enclosed and it is clean and inviting. So from first impressions I am very happy with our choice. A most charming site.

rocky outcrops of the mountains seen between trees and campervans at cote sud millua
Impressive views on offer at Cote-Sud

trees and our tent in the sun at the cote sud campsite near millau
Perfect pitch for the night. The toilet block is discreetly hidden behind the conifers.

The sun is hot on my skin so I strip out of my bike gear and into a much more comfortable top and shorts. We can not help but grin at one another. We have had an awesome day and now we have ended up in a lovely campsite. Some days things just go right and we are both full of gratitude for the day we have been given.

We decide to have a nice leisurely stroll into town and hunt down something to eat. Millau town appeals to me a lot. It has a relaxed and friendly air about it. Numerous narrow, quirky streets lead to wide open squares resplendent with waterfalls and smart cafes.

tall narrow streets in the french style at millau france
Charming narrow streets

houses but different houses in all weird ways at millau
Iggeldy piggeldy is a delight

It is an absolute delight to stroll around this town in the warm evening sun. We spot a sign offering a deal on a baguette, cookie and a drink. The owner is bright and cheerful and his food is scrum yum delicious. Especially his caramel cookie which made me utter noises of pure delight. So good was it we have to nip back inside after we have eaten out feat to tell him how good it was. The owners grin grows even bigger at our praise..  

shop sig reading la mie caline at millau
This is the place that has the best tasting cookies in the world.
On the stroll back we stop to chat to 3 British bikers. A couple and their male friend all from Plymouth.  It is a pleasant chat talking bikes and French roads.
We decide to stay another day at Millau because we like it so much. There is certainly plenty of activites on offer, what with the swimming pool, lovely walking in the area, canoeing on the river and even para gliding for those brave enough. I myself fancy a little trip down the river in a canoe. However the bf says the forecast for tomorrow is rain. Urgh, really hope that is wrong.

Once back at the campsite we stop and chat for a while with our neighbouring campers. A very nice couple, again from the South of England who are travelling France two up on their BMW. John and Bridget are seasoned campers and bike travellers and it is good to exchange stories and tales. We stand in the gathering darkness talking about camping, bikes, the ever present and scary scooters in French towns and our secret dreams of all one day swapping our tents for a motorhome with our bikes on the back.

It has been a wonderful day today. Spectacular scenery, sunshine and warm people to chat with. I day to give whole hearted gratitude to for having experienced it.

*It appears the dry river bed was due to the fact that the river Rieutord spends much of its time underground. Only reappearing above ground during period of extreme torrential rain.


Forming a Plan The formulation of a cunning a devious plan to take on Europe is formed in the tiny mind of our intrepid explorer...
The GF Question Do I take the gf with me to France? Can she come? Will she like it? These are all very difficult questions...
France...I wanna go but can I...?? Can Sharon make it to Europe? Will the kids survive? Will the bf behave? Is there any space for makeup? All these questions and more...
The Load Getting everything we NEED and a few items we WANT onto a motorcycle can be a problem. Now I have to work out how to get 3 WEEKS worth of gear onto the poor donkey(aka bike)
Camping In Cambridge The start of our Epic Adventure...or bike holiday around France. Cambridge is surprisingly nice really.
France - Day 1 Sharon's first day from her point of view. Cushy Cambridge and dry weather...what more could a girl want?
The Chunnel The Chunnel, I'm excited but also stressing because the bike's already broken before we leave the UK. I worry too much...
France - Day 2 - Bikes, Trains and Tents Sharon leads us through sunshine, hair issues, the Channel Tunnel and into France. But France is eerily quiet...
Here Comes The Rain Bike fixed...bike broken. Rain, endless dull roads, miserable towns and more rain. Oh the joy of travel! At least Epernay welcomed us with a huge smile :-)
France Day 3 - Crying Through The Rain The rain plays tricks with Sharon's spirit but a stiff upper lip and giving herself a good talking to see her through.
Rain Into Dijon Rain, rain and more rain. Just how long can it last? Would we be better off with a Jet Ski? Can we continue to keep our Great British Stiff Upper Lips?
France Day 4 - We Are Mustard We Are Dijon is the destination and we're surviving the rain...that makes us well mustard! We're happy in spite of the rain but how long can we keep smiling?
The Joy Of Being Lost As we head south the rain lightens but will it ever stop? I get lost which is no surprise, but lost turns out to be the best part of travelling. Are things finally taking a turn for the better? I do hope so...
France Day 5 - Biker's Paradise Sharon's day 5 in France starts out rough but improves considerably. What delights can put such a joyous grin on her face?
The Stunning Alps We are both facing a very strange situation...that of sunshine, warmth, beauty and pleasure.
France Day 6 - Magnificent Mountains Sharon shares the delights of the Alps. Sometimes life is good!
Highs And Lows From the stunning Alps to our ultimate destination...MONACO! Is it all I expected? Will it be as I imagined?
France Day 7 - Scooter Mayhem Sharon describes the best and the worst France has to offer. Ride on the back with her from the beauty of the countryside to the mayhem of Monaco
Resting And Deciding Today we stop to take a breather and recuperate. It's also time to make a decision about the rest of our journey. I used to be indecisive, I'm not so sure now.
France Day 8 - Chilling In The Pool A day off from the journey sees Sharon and Ren doing something very silly, breaking things and achieving very little. What a splendid way to spend a day!
Going West Day 9 sees us heading west from the coast. It's finally dry, but it's still windy so not too hot. The gf's not well and Ren is relentlessly lost. Overall not a bad day then!
France Day 9 - Poppies, Vines and a Wet Lettuce Feeling poorly rather spoils Sharon's day today. Still on she must go on and survive what might have otherwise been a good day.
Biggest Bridge In The World In glorious sunshine and fine health we make our way from Nimes to Millau complete with it's Viaduct. Sometimes life is good, occasionally it's great!
France Day 10 - Deflated to Elated Today is a good day for Sharon. Today the sun shines, the scenery is beautiful and the people are pleasant. Join her as France puts a smile on her face.
The Wettest Bridge In The World The Millau Viaduct ought to be impressive. It is, but nowhere near as impressive as the amount of rain falling from the skies.
France Day 11 - Grim Not every day can be filled with sunshine and smiles, even on holiday. This one certainly was not for Sharon!
False Hope Part One Ren would like to invite you to a joyous report about the delightful weather in the South of France! He'd like to. Instead it just rained and rained and rained and rained...
France Day 12 - It's Gloomy Inside And Out Sharon freezes her butt off during the night then is treated to a cold and wet ride. The Ren sure knows how to spoil a girl.
False Hope Part Two Is this the end? Has Armageddon arrived? Is this the Apocalypse? It sure as hell feels like it.
France Day 13 - Quietude For A While Sharon's report on another day of mixed weather. There's peace and beauty then there's mud and cold. Adventure...no-one said it would be easy!
Sunshine After Rain A night of rain soaked delirium. Will the day be any better? Will our travellers ever dry out?
France Day 14 - A Bit of 5 Star Luxury Sharon has a much better day on the road and a luxurious 5 star campsite. It's amazing what difference a little dry weather can make.
Back Into The Flatlands A quiet, simple and easy days ride through France for Ren. Pleasant enough but the flatlands are getting a little boring now.
France Day 15 - A Bit Of 2 Star Delight Sharon has an ordinary day and a frustrating battle with the weather.
Not Far To Chinon It's a short, easy and peaceful ride this day in France. Ren gets all philosophical too.
France Day 16 - A Historical Walk Around Chinon Sharon enjoys a hint of sunshine and the history of Chinon, France.
Shopping To Mamers Ren's airbed's leaking now. No problem, find a shop and buy a new one...easy? I don't think so...
France Day 17 - The Gift Of TIme Even though the weather is cool Sharon's heart is warmed by the people she meets in France today
Don't Go To Ault Ren has a grim, long, dull and uninspiring day in France. The accommodation doesn't help.
France Day 18 - Is This Misery Or Joy? Sharon finds sunshine, ancient caravans and ponders about hapiness.
Looking For Luxury With time on their side Ren looks for the perfect campsite for the next to night. Not finding it makes him a very grumpy boy.
France Day 19 - Campsite Conundrums Although the wind blows the sun is shining while Sharon looks for the perfect pitch.
Resting In Ambleteuse Ren philosophises too much on the final day of his trip around France.
France Day 20 Sharon's in a reflective mood on the last day of our French trip.
Back Into England Ren recalls the final day of the French Adventure. It's all over far too soon.
What Did We Learn? Ren sums up his thoughts about France and the French trip.
France On Reflection Sharon sums up her her experience of the French Trip. Damn those Alps.

Reader's Comments

John de ville said :-
A great read Sharon Withnel.........oops sorry, Parker.

Its good to see a different take on the same subject matter and more photos as well.

Well written.

:) :) :)
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC

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