After the night in the mountains I cycled down to Orange. This side of the mountains the landscape changed quite suddenly and became noticeable Mediterranean. It really felt like I had cycled to a different climate which was great. Lots of good smelling pine trees, tall thin cypres trees and even cacti in people’s gardens!
The landscape looked like a Cezanne painting.
I stayed near Orange with this lovely retired couple Joseph and Elizabeth Dalstein.
They have joined warm showers because their son is currently undertaking a huge tour of eastern Europe with his girlfriend and they have enjoyed using the website.
More French speaking practice- Elizabeth was very patient with me and restored my confidence 🙂 And she gave me a massive bar of chocolate when I left! I liked her 🙂
From Orange I went to Avignon. This was an exciting landmark as I’ve been before but by train years ago. I stopped for lunch with this lovely view of the bridge.
I took my time as it’s all easy downhill from here all the way to the sea 🙂
Just as I was ready to cycle off again I realised I had a flat tyre. This turned out to be a real stroke of luck since as I was fixing it I met Brad another solo cycle tourer!
Brad is from New Zealand and has been touring through Europe for 4 months. He has beautiful photos of mountain passes in Germany, Switzerland and Eastern France. It wad great to meet someone who I could share the experience of solo bike touring with. We both agreed that it was great for meeting random strangers but that it got quite lonely inbetween these times. We’d prefer company. Brad started his tour with a friend who had had to give in because of a bad knee. So he’s been on his own for a couple of months. Well, I was heading to a warmshower host in Arles and Brad was having a rest day in Avignon so I cycled off alone again. After just a bit of posing by the ‘Palais des Papes’
I felt more relaxed than ever thanks to meeting someone in the same position as me who was taking it all so much in his stride. So I enjoyed sight seeing, but as I was cycling out of town I was thinking what a shame it was that Brad and I had both said we want some company and then immediately parted company! Brad was planning to get to Barcelona which is is a place I had originally hoped to get to. I had said I was heading to St Marie de la Mer and suggested he came too but hadn’t thought to immediately suggest we ride together. It was getting late and I had quite a few kilometres to go to get to Arles and my host by now I also had quite a few kilometers to get back to Avignon. So I pushed on kicking myself the whole way!
But when I got to Eric’s place I was pleased. It was lovely. It’s actually a b & b that he has decorated himself beautifully. One of the rooms is done out to be a copy of Van Goghs painting, complete with the starry night painted on the ceiling!
I went to sleep pretty early and was all set to move on first thing that morning. Eric was shocked to hear I wasn’t planning to explore the city. He explained it was a ‘living museum’ full of ancient monuments and beautiful buildings. He gave me a map and some directions and I had a fantastic day exploring. I was so pleased I did because it was amazing! In the centre of town is a the remains of a huge Roman theatre and amphitheatre
I loved visiting the amphitheatre it was amazing to read about it’s history. It is under slow renovation having lost some of the original stone as it was once used as quarry to build many of the local houses.
A couple of hundred years ago it was inhabited as a sort of small fortified town.
Because of all this some of the original seating is missing which is why there is at the moment some slightly ugly scaffolding stuff.
There’s still plenty to look at though.
I also realised that this was an important town for Van Gogh. His café at night painting was made here. Me and thousands of other tourists have seen the very café in question.
From browsing postcards I learnt that he went from here on to St Marie de la Mer where he painted this:
I love this painting and photographed it when I was in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. So I’m following in his footsteps! Which is very exciting but probably means I’ll end up penniless and insane…
By 4pm it was really time to make a move and get to the coast… I had a very tedious flat ride ahead of me but the great news was that Brad had decided to make his way to St Marie de la Mer so we could both have some company for a while.
Which allowed me to take this terrible photo!
What a couple of bozos…