From La Voulte we cycled south along the Rhône. There was a bike path (the Via Rhôna) all the way, which was quite good, but with some unpleasant surprises such as sudden steep hills, unpaved bits, impassable barriers or unnecessary detours as usual. Along the way there was a huge nuclear power station with a painting of a playing child on it and a wind turbine next to it for additional greenwashing.
After one day we turned west into the mountains in order to reach the next planned project La Vieille Valette. The group split up in two for the day. The longer and much more hilly route went on the famous touristic mountain road along the river Ardèche, with many viewpoints over its many meanders and canyons full of canoers.
We spent one night in the middle of a village, on a public parking lot for caravans. No one complained, and it made the night quite convenient for us, with a toilet and a shop right next to us.
When we arrived at La Vieille Valette, it turned out not to be the best place to stay. It is a community as old as the Biketour, living in an abandoned castle-like village up in the mountains, only reachable by a steep and rough hiking path. No one there expected us, as the communication had been done a long time ago with someone who was not there at that moment. While the place looked really interesting and amazing, the people were not very excited about us and we decided that it’s not worth the work of pushing our bikes up such a difficult way.
We cycled one day more through the Cévenees and decided to stop for a rest day on a field in the small village Saint-Sébastien-d’Aigrefeuille close to Alès. There was a small river next to the field, but we found out that it was polluted with arsenic because of a mine that existed in the area 100 years ago. Close by we found a non-polluted waterfall and had some wonderful swims there.
We spent our rest-day discussing about whether and how to refund some people’s travel costs to/from the Biketour, sewing flags for our bikes, talking about veganism, and playing group games as part of a theatre improvisation workshop.
From Saint Sébastien we cycled to Montpellier, where a host for the night was suggested to us just some days before. We slept in the collective farm La Ferme Urbaine Collective de la Condamine. Cycling there was quite amazing, some of us were quite late because of leaving late, dumpster-diving and doing a lock-picking workshop on the way, and then finding some kittens (more about that in another blog post). We had a long night-cycle as a group and could feel the salty sea in the wind all the way.
From Montpellier we cycled as a Critical Mass to the beach close to Frontignan. The car drivers were quite respectful in comparison to what many of us are used to, but on the way to the beach they started to become aggressive, so we decided to block the opposite lane as well and not let them pass anymore. Someones trailer broke in a really bad way on the way and some of us stayed behind to fix it, but with different combinations of different multitools and an electric drill that suddenly arrived with a local cyclist, we managed to fix it!
After two months of cycling, we finally arrived on the Mediterranean Sea!