We knew that we were starting the first day in Nice, and we had reservations that night in a town called Comps sur Artuby, and another one day ride in the book covered a bit of that terrain, so we wanted to go up through Vence and across the plateau de caussols, but the details we needed to work out once on the ground. In Nice, we found a few scales of maps and Patrick brought a Garmin GPS (I totally want one now) and Monday night, we used their tried and true method of ride planning, which we more or less did the rest of the trip. Patrick had brought a highlighter, so we highlighted the cities we needed to go to/through and the most promising route, along with possible side-trips and any alternative routes in case a particular road turned out to be too busy. From the maps alone, there are roads of different colors from skinny little white roads, to yellow, to orange to red, and then special red ones that are the equivalent of interstates. Clearly you can't bike on the interstate ones and the white ones are the best bets for low traffic, but the orange and red ones can be a bit of a toss-up. Sometimes they are low traffic and have nice shoulders, and sometimes they are busy. The white ones, though, can also wind about and climb a lot more than the larger roads going the same direction, so planning a route in an area you haven't visited takes a bit of guesswork, and a bit of weighing options (given the distance, time, etc. do we want to do more climbing and more km, or do we want to ride with more traffic?). Then, that day, Patrick kept the maps and the GPS and did the on-the-bike navigation. He had a handlebar bag that made map access easier, and really, we mostly went off the GPS, just consulting the maps for more general progress checks, etc. The first day, we totally lucked out; even the red roads near Comps were very low traffic with good pavement.
|The first km were easy|
|Tourrette-sur-Loup, perched village number one of the trip|
|Gourdon from below|
|Gourdon...at our level|
|And then after Gourdon, we just kept climbing!!!|
|Stone bridge; I wonder what it used to connect?|
|Bargeme and Sasha|
The next two towns were pretty much more of the same, so I won't go on at too great lengths about them. Mind you, that's not a complaint; it might be possible to stop in too many Provencal perched villages with medieval ruins and yummy food, but I can assure you that we did not hit the point of overload in 2 weeks.
|Chateaudouble; this picture doesn't quite do the town justice. It was cute.|
|Sheep? Where are the sheep? We want to see sheep!!|
|No wonder the road margins are so well trimmed.|
We got back to Comps in time for Clara and I to take a short walk up the hill before dinner to look at the churches on the hill above Comps. There were 3, and the lighting was gorgeous, so it was a nice end to a nice day, especially if we include the delicious dinner that followed.
|Comps sur Artuby and church near dusk.|