24-in-24: 🍇 Rhône Valley
Entry #0.1 in the series Paris 24 in 24. August 2022.
In the spring of 2022, I accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Paris-Saclay that would last for two years, from September 2022 until August 2024. My partner Mandeep and I moved to France in August to set up shop before I would get to work in September.
Fast forward to August 2022, after Mandeep and I arrived in France, we spent most of the month doing some traveling around. And we decided seeing as everybody else in Paris seems to leave, why don’t we do the same too. We had planned a bike touring trip down the Rhône Valley and booked a few different places to stay along the way, biking from place to place for four nights. However, before we left Montreal, Mandeep broke her foot in a freak accident when she was playing with her nieces. And so we arrived in France with Mandeep still wearing a an air boot and unable to bike for a little while.
So we modified the plan. Our original route was to be from Lyon to Avignon, a stretch of about 300 kilometers to bike down the Rhône Valley along the Rhône River. So we canceled the accommodations that we had made in between, and instead just booked one in the middle that we found. It was called La Grand Maison in the village of Montmeyran a little ways outside Valence. So we booked that instead for two or three nights. We would both take the train from Paris to Lyon and then Mandeep would take the train directly there. I would bike from Lyon to Le Grand Maison. I’d arrive in the evening and we would stay for a couple nights. Then I’d bike the rest of the way to Avignon, our end point, while Mandeep once again took the train. We had two more nights booked at a hotel in Avignon, after which we would take the train back to Lyon, and then back to Paris.
🔥 Part 1: Le canicule - cycling through a heat wave
Mandeep and I left our hotel next to Gare de Lyon in Paris before daylight. My bike was all packed up in its travel bag and we made our way to the train station and got on the train bound for Lyon. When we got to Lyon two hours later, the first item of business was for me to assemble my bike and get it packed for the adventure ahead. I did that and then we parted ways, Mandeep on the train to our destination and I set off on the 150 kilometer route that I had planned out.
For something different I decided to Tweet about my adventure on the way, which I did for a while until the heat got too much for excess activity so the tweets end up pretty sparse for the second half of the trip.
With France in the grips of a heat wave, it was a long hot day in the saddle. That said, it was beautiful, with a nice route running along the bank of the Rhone River. The route is part of EuroVelo 7, “The Sun Route”, an established continental bike route that traverses Europe north to south, from the top of Norway to Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. After a long, arduous and sweaty journey I arrived at Le Grand Maison in the late afternoon where Mandeep was waiting.
🏞️ Part 2: La campagne
Le Grand Maison was truly a sight for sore eyes, and it was a beautiful place to stay for a few days in the bucolic French countryside. I did a nice ride to climb the nearby Col du Tourniol one day and we spent plenty of time just relaxing, lounging by the pool, eating good food and not too much else. By the time we were to leave we were sad to go. Because of the heat, which was formidable, I opted not to bike the second leg and instead joined Mandeep on the train to Avignon.
Part 3: Avignon
Avignon was a complete and welcome surprise. It’s a beautiful, well-preserved medieval city that housed the Pope in medieval times. Remarkably well-preserved, it was a treat to discover so much history and beautiful architecture as we walked around. We spent two days there, saw the sights, enjoyed great food and beat the heat as best we could. And then finally boarded the train to go back to Lyon and then finally back to Paris.
📸 Photo Gallery:
Enjoy a (mostly chronological) photo gallery of our Rhône Valley adventure!