2011 Trip Days 24-26: Med Coast, Bedoin, Mont Ventoux
Day 24 – Cadques to Argeles-sur-Mer
After leaving delightful Cadaques, we headed north.
The area between Cadaques in Catalunya and Argeles sur Mer is just epic riding. If I had to pick a spot, I'd base in Cadques or Banyules sur Mer then just do endless riding, swimming, relaxing and exploring. None of the riding is HC, but you'll find relentless 9% climbs everywhere.
Along the way though, we were frustrated by our inability to stop and check out the towns along the way, like the awesome Banyules sur Mer on the French/Spanish border. Many of the towns were very small and perched on hilly terrain with no parking for campervans. This is terrain best investigated in a car or by bike.
The cycling is excellent. Lots of climbing – nothing too taxing – and lots of towns with places to eat and drink.
We rolled into Argeles sur Mer and scored an awesome camping spot on the way into town. There are around 6 camping grounds on the way into town – aim for the ones about 1km out to ensure a spot.
I recommend booking though, it's a VERY busy town, full of tourists and with lots of music festivals and other stuff going on. It's also near Collioure, a idyllic old town that's very famous in the area.
Argeles sur Mer is a melting spot of French and Catalan cuisine, so you can get awesome Spanish food, at Spanish prices, in France. Worth a look, if you don't mind tourist shtick.
We wandered around town which was sadly very tacky. Lots of shops – many selling knock off brands and junk. The eating though, was excellent. I decided to try my luck my with moules frites – mussels and chips. I asked for no garlic (in French) and said I was allergic, but they came out reeking of raw garlic. I sent them back and eventually got a massive pot. It was pretty good but probably not as good as Aussie mussels.
We had baguettes again for dinner.
Day 25 – Valras-Plage
We headed north and decided to stop early somewhere so we could enjoy the sun. We ended up in Valras-Plage, another very touristy area.
One thing I've noticed about this area is camp spots are nowhere near as well-signed in places like the Alps, Pyrenees, parts of Spain and Provence.
Fortunately with some Orange Mobicarte Internet on the iPhone, plus Google, we found some camping. The camp ground had a water slide. I was pretty excited as I've never been on one and Kate promised she'd hold my hand.
Unfortunately, they had no spots. We headed out of town and found a spot which was miles from town. The couple running it were English (husband) and French (wife) so we got some great info out of them. He told us to check out Carcassonne, an old fortified city.
He also told us that you ought not park anywhere in a campervan in this area – pretty sketchy.
This area didn't do much for us, so tomorrow it was off to Bedoin and Mont Ventoux, where the weather was 30 degrees.
Day 26 – Bedoin
We bypassed Carcasonne as it was out of the way, but resolved to come back. Apparently there is an Australian wildlife park near Carcasonne too, which is pretty funny.
After a couple of hours driving, we arrived in delightful Bedoin.
Bedoin is in Provence in the awesome Vaucluse provence, bordering the equally awesome Drome. It is also suspiciously located at the base of the mythical Mont Ventoux, which I swear was an absolute coincidence.
We couldn't get camping in the municipal camping 5 mins from the shops, so we tried another place – La Garenne – also full. The nudist camping (Belezy, on the road to Ventoux) didn't appeal, so we ended up at a place called La Pastory about 3km out of town, basically set in a vineyard. It was a bit painfully far out of town if you are walking but awesome. Views over town and over Ventoux with the afternoon sun. Awesome. If you have a bike, just go here.
I have to say, Bedoin is one of my favourite places in France. The cycling is awesome, weather is great and the food and people are cool too. Plus, there's the Ventoux! You can read about my previous visit to Bedoin and Ventoux from my 2009 trip, here (Ventoux recce, pre Etape 09), here (Etape 09 registration, Ventoux recce #2) and here (Etape 2009).
We had AWESOME pizza at Pizza Phils. The pizza and salads are great, the coffee is pretty terrible. But I think that goes without saying for most of France.
That night the night markets were on, but it wasn't as good as we thought it would be.
The next day I had arranged to meet Gerry, who runs a couple of cool blogs, one of which is Cycling in Languedoc.
Gerry was going to accompany me on my Ventoux 3-Peat; yep, 3 times up Ventoux in one day, from each approach. So stay tuned for that little story.
A significant amount of time and effort goes into these reviews, all with the aim of helping you. As lots of readers say, I give way too much information away for nothing, and it really does take a lot of time and effort (but I do love doing it!).
If you found the site useful, and you didn’t need a SIM card or ebook, I’d really appreciate it if you dropped something in the Paypal tip jar below. Or if you’re buying something online, use one of the affiliate links below the Paypal button.
Paypal tip jar (choose your own amount)
These affiliate links provide me a small commission (2-4%) on each sale and they don’t cost you a cent extra.