Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mr Toad's Wild Ride

The Hotel Crillon Le Brave (yes the same Crillon clan who lent their name to that fabulous hotel in Paris, although not affiliated) is even better than I remembered. Who said you can never go home again?
We were smart - we assumed our luggage would get lost, so we packed one of everything (fancy clothes. bike shorts. change of undies. use your imagination.) in our roll-aboards. And Air France did not disappoint - they lost our one and only checked bag. We felt so smug - neat stacks of carefully edited clothing tucked into the cupboards, our room neat as a pin. 

That all ended when our missing bag was delivered to our room...just after midnight.

Some advice: Never take Ambien at 3 a.m. Not even half an Ambien. Not even if you're lying awake stewing about who was the genius who decided it was okay to ring your doorbell and deliver your missing suitcase at midnight effing thirty. 

Wally shook me awake at 10 and we stumbled down for breakfast. It had poured the day we arrived - it is sparkling and gorgeous now. And Mt Ventoux, The Giant of Provence lurks in the distance.
Wally wants to ride to the top - on borrowed somewhat abused mountain bikes that weigh as much as a limestone boulder. I, having recently broken several bones and been on my bike exactly three times since, nix the idea. So it's off to Bedoin where it's market day...
...and hundreds of cyclists are setting out to climb Ventoux.
Wally looks longingly - Not me. Not this time.

We cycle a big loop thru tiny villages and end up on a very busy very narrow road. No shoulder, trucks screaming by at 60 miles and hour and sucking you into the roadway with their jetwash, the wolves howling in the fields along the roadway and the buzzards circling overhead. I am weeping when we finally get to Mazan and the traffic circles slow everyone down. 

The advantages of the hilltop village: defensible. Important when they were first built.
Great views - important now that they are becoming vacation homes and fancy hotels. 

The disadvantage: It's uphill to get home no matter how you slice it. 

Clearly we are not the only cyclists staying here...
We dine on an outdoor terrace facing the mountain. The sky turns periwinkle, then purple, then velvet black. The food is delicious...
Off to bed.

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