Leaving behind 2” of snow in Boulder on October 18, we arrived in France 12 hours later, speeding through the French countryside on the TGV train to Avignon, with increasingly sunny and warm weather as we approached Provence. The fall here has been magnificent this year, with most days sunny and low 70’s with the warm Provencal light of Van Gogh illuminating this corner of France. Now, on November 7, the trees and vines are just reaching their colorful peak.
Today, we awoke to a foggy sunrise, but with a promise of, again, sun, 70’s and no wind. We decided to take advantage and do our “two plus two”. This involves taking our two bikes at the Mas on a short 10 minute drive to the Veloroute du Calavon – a 28 kilometer paved bike path on a former railroad right of way between Goult to the west and east of Apt to Saint Martin de Castillon.
We call it the “two plus two” because we take the bikes to the Gare de Bonnieux and head west for a leisurely half hour out to the Gare de Goult, crossing over the meandering Calavon River, then back to Gare de Bonnieux, then an hour out and back east to the Pont Julien, which a perfectly preserved Roman bridge that is 2000 years old. This two hour bike ride is then appropriately balanced with a two hour typical French lunch at the charming Restaurant de la Gare at Gare de Bonnieux, our starting point – thus the “two plus two”. For 13 euros, there is an incredible buffet of crudities, salads, saucissons, vegetables and cheese, followed by the plat du jour, which varies each day, then capped by a cheese plate or dessert. And, of course, all washed down with local wine from the Cave Cooperative from across the road. All one has to do is load up the bikes after lunch, go home, and plan for dinner!
The two bikes at the Mas are for guests, and there is a local bike rental agency that will deliver and pick up bikes at your request. Also available in the valley are rentals of electric (battery) assisted bikes if you should be so adventuresome as to want to ride all the way to Mount Ventoux (scene of many Tour de France stages), which is pretty much a full day ride there and back from the Mas.