Photographer

Sain Jean Du Gard via Mt Ventoux to Aix en Provence

My hotel was full of hikers with huge packs. Why do you need to vary so much if you are staying in a hotel? They were all impatient to be off in the cool of the morning, but the hotel restaurant was firmly locked until exactly 7:45. Slicing bread and making a big jug of coffee obviously needs qpeace, quiet and considerable preparation time. No hurry I a motorcycle though … I went back to bed for a snooze. 

I decided to ride through Avion to Mount Ventoux, of Tour de France dame, before heading south to Aix en Provence. To make this possible I headed there by motorway, the sweeping curves of which made a refreshing change to the sinuosity of late. The speed felt positively breathtaking though. 

Mt Ventoux and its surrounding villages was teeming with cyclists in Lycra, all much skinnier than the average person I’ve seen this week. Ventoux is a formidable challenge and the fatties had obviously decided to stay away. Even the lithe seems to be over faced by the mountain though; I passed many walking or resting at the side of the road. My suspicion was that they had the wrong gears for the job, or the wrong legs. I’ve cycled steeper and longer passes I’m sure. Not recently though. On a motorcycle it was splendid, although without the rush of endorphins or the big grin on reaching the crowded summit. 

Leaving and heading south to Aix I was back on the twisties, through heavily scented lavender fields. 

I stopped at a pretty cafe with flags and shade for a coffee and ice cream (Magnum double chocolate – highly recommended). It was so pleasant sitting here and watching life go by that, in an uncharacteristic surge of generosity, I decided to leave a tip. I was almost back at the bike when the waitress caught up with me. I thought I must have forgotten something, but when she held out my change I thought I must have overtippped. She wanted me to come back to the cafe though. Bemused I followed her. She put the money in its little tray on the counter and said, “Please take your time to count it,” in a time I imagine she reserves for imbeciles and the infirm. I’d underpaid by a Euro.

It’s 27 years since David and I were in Aix en Provence. I remembered it as a place that I’d like to live. Now I didn’t recognise it at all. Nothing. Not sure I’d want to live here either any longer. 

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