03/08/17 Saint-Andre-Les-Alpes/ Toulouse (Mountain road/National road/Motorway)- 11Am/5Am
We woke up around 9.30Am and 10 minutes after a shower I was already feeling like taking another one as the air was quite hot and sticky, however we had to pack and load the bikes. I routed some specific routes for today, and no matter how much we both loved St Andre les Alpes we had to move on to the next stage that would take us from Southeastern France to Toulouse in the Southwest!!!
It was sunny and hot, we left Saint Andre around 11am with a feeling that we would get back in the future. We took the great N202 along the Lac Castilion and then the D955 that would take us to Castellane (one of the major towns in the Verdon region). The road was curvy and scenic as usual, always with the lake by our side. We stopped not long after we left. On the D955 we saw a big dam and a french EDF power station. We had to take a couple pics of it as it is quite impressive.
Back on the bikes for another 30 minutes riding and we arrived in Castellane. There was a little market place around, so we stopped the bikes again. This time to have a chat with 3 bikers who were parking as well and to have a quick drink and snack. Marie was getting a bit impatient as she told her mom we would arrive around 8 or 9 pm in Toulouse ( Marie´s family home) and it was getting late. I was still looking forward to check the Gorges du Verdon (also known as the Grand Canyon of Europe) and the famous D23 route des Cretes not knowing that all this would take us longer than expected.
We went back on the D955 route and followed the road always with the river Verdon close by. Beautiful and very picturesque with the river and the road in between the massive gorge, very curvy but also a very popular holiday destination as the road was very very busy. It was possible to see here and there a few parked up cars and people enjoying themselves along the river. That turquoise clear water was really calling us.. It was hot and we were thirsty again so we did a quick stop to refresh (I even drunk from the river, believe it or not, the water tasted quite pure). The scenery only made me feel jealous… some people were just sunbathing or simply enjoying themselves floating on the water and some were like monkeys, climbing up the rocks to jump into the river. Crowded, but stunning!!! I wanted to stay there for a couple hours too… but I knew it wouldn´t be possible, Marie would kill me!!!!
Hold on… a few more pictures:
We spent about 30 to 45 minutes just looking around quite impressed, but again… time to move on as Marie had given me already that look. We then started going up the Gorges du Verdon. The road was very curvy, mountainous and quite steep at some stage, but always beautiful!!! We were really enjoying it despiste Marie´s concern about our arriving time in Toulouse, adding up to my worries that we started running low on petrol and we couldn´t find any petrol station nearby.
We asked a couple people if they could indicate where to find a petrol station but the answer was the same.. in La Palud sur Verdon. Uff it was crowded ( as it was the only petrol station in a 30/ 40 mile radius), we got there with the tanks nearly empty and thirsty again!!! Tanks full and after a quick drink we were ready again. I had previously routed a specific road due to its beauty and danger not far from there… The D23 Route des Cretes where the view over the Gorges du Verdon and the road was unique. (for this route click here ) It was nearly 5pm and we still had about 350 miles to do, Marie was getting very annoyed at me as I was stopping every now and then to take pictures, so I only had time to take a few without time to explore a bit more. Note the hairpins without proctection rails and the high height we were!!!
Mad man climbing:
While we were around here we spotted a crazy guy climbing up one of these colossal gorges.. mad!!!!
We basically did a loop all around on the D23 and went back to the D952 by La Palud sur Verdon again… I still wanted to pass by the Lac Saint Croix but it was 6pm. No chance, Marie would simply throw me down a cliff if I had done more stop… from the D23 to the motorway there was no stopping. Although the road was good with some scenic spots it felt like an eternity at speeds between 60 to 80 mph… We finally reached the motorway around 7.30pm.
We aimed towards Aix en Provence passing Arles and Nimes… I wanted to speed up but had to follow Marie´s pace… 70/75mph and then from Nimes hell started… It was nearly 11 pm… We took ages, Marie was quite upstet with me because I spent ages hanging around the Verdon wanting to see it all, and I was annoyed at Marie for setting up a date and time to arrive at her mom´s ( in my opinion, on a roadtrip like this you shouldn´t set up any date or time of arrival).
I started to speed up to see if we would arrive in Toulouse quickly but as I was looking at my mirrors, Marie was staying far behind, had to slow down to 65/60 and sometimes 55mph on the motorway to wait for her. Tiredness started to take over both of us. I noticed my reaction time and reflexes becoming really slow and judging by Marie´s speed on the motorway I realised she also was knackered. We stopped around 2am in some motorway service area near Narbonne where I suggested a power nap. It was bad, we were angry at each other and agruing badly but we agreed to do a break… It was hot and dry so we simply layed down on the grass for an hour of sleep.
That felt good, we were able to restore some energy and after a quick redbull we were back on the road, and not so angry at each other anymore… I guess we were just miserably exhausted!!
Carcassone, nearly there!!!
Toulouse… home… we arrived safe and sound!! The bikes… both rock solid!!! (Oh well.. hondas!!!)
We arrived at Marie´s mom around 5am, 20 hours after we left saint Andre Les Alpes… both exhausted and still a bit annoyed at the other.. No doubt this was a beautiful day but at the same time the worst of the entire trip!!!!
Definitely a hard day!!!!!