LYON - AUVERGNE/ARDECHE/Mt VENTOUX/VERCORS-LYON : AUG 1993

A three week tour covering 1038mls with minimal baggage carried as we used small hotels throughout. The general aim of the holiday was to visit some new areas (eastern side of the Auvergne and the Archeche gorges) as well as revisiting some favorite areas (the Vercors) and climbing one of our favorite mountains(Mt Ventoux). We were also collecting more BPF stamps (see the section 'Across France' for more details).

13/8 - Lyon arrival.

Flew from Manchester to Lyon (with a straight forward change at Brussels) arriving 20:30hrs, temperature 28’C. Stopped at nearby airport hotel for 310frs and 32frs for buffet breakfast. Expensive but it saved us searching around at this late hour. We had phoned from the UK to book a room. No problems with bikes on the flight, we used just plastic bags and some foam padding.

14/8 - Lyon to Macon area. Warm day with some high cloud, southerly wind. 65mls.

Left hotel 10:00hrs. Hid bike baggage in bushes by railway line. We have done this before - its no big problem if its not there when we return and anyway we don't want to be carrying the extra weight with us. Rode east initially to Cremieu (BPF stamp, priory, tower & chateau, an interesting town) then north, with a following wind, to Perouges (BPF stamp, mediaval village), a very picturesque fortress type hamlet with cobbled streets - a popular tourist spot. Lunch stop. Flattish roads then past etangs (small lakes mainly for fishing) to the Saone valley. Stopped at quiet hotel 3km from main road below Macon. Some thunder in the night. A lovely warm day.

Auberge St Veran: 1 star excellent stop. Room 150frs. Meal 60frs and P/D 25frs.

15/8 - Macon to Villefranche-s-Saone.Warm with some hazy cloud. 54mls.

Beaujolis Vines above Macon

Quiet sunlight road

Off by 09:00hrs, uphill initially past vinefields. This is Beaujolis country - vines everywhere. Down to Solutre (BPF stamp, site of the Pouilly-Fuisse wine & an impressive rocky outcrop) before tackling up and down quiet roads over a succession of small cols (Gerbet, Bourbon, Fontmartin - no higher than 680’) then dropping down from the Col Durbize into Beaujeu (lunch stop & BPF stamp, ancient capital of the Beaujolis region). Grey clouds about as we took flatter roads to Vaux-en-Beaujolis (BPF stamp - the orginal Clochmerle place, book by G Chevalier- decorated pissoire). More easy hills before descending to Villefranche-s-Saone.

Hotel la Collone: Centrally located. Room 160frs. Meal 75frs. P/D 30frs. Good stop

16/8 - Villefranche to Bessenay la Brevenne. Warm to hot sunny day. 54mls.

Left by 08:45hrs for uphill route back into the Beaujolis hills to Oingt before descent and then rising D13 road, lovely wooded scenery on way to Valsonne then minor road over Col des Cassettes 622’ and across valley head to Col les Sauvages 723’ (BPF stamp,viewpoint, Notre Dame de la Roche). Downhill again to Tarare, up the Torrachain valley (hot work now) and D11 amongst wooded hillsides and climbing over to Montrottier(BPF stamp, impressive village & long distance views) and then downhill to Bessenay. Hotel on N89 road. Evening meal out in the garden. Waiter moved our bikes overnight from outside into the kitchen - without us knowing – a morning surprise when we went to collect them - bit of a shock at first!

Auberge: Logis 2star. Quality place. Room 260frs. Meal 75frs. P/D 32frs (with 2nd helpings)

17/8 - Bessenay to St Bonnet.Warm ,sunny day. 58mls.

Up to Col de la Luere 714’ then short descent/rise to Col de Malval 732’ onto Yzeron (picturesque mountain village & a BPF stamp). High level road with good long distance views onto St Martin-en-Haut then busier D11/2/12 via St Symponien, Chazelles to St Galmier, lunch in the shade in a park. Busier roads north of St Etienne, through St Just-s-Loire, hot road to Chambles (old village with views over the Loire gorges- a BPF stamp). More climbing on quiet roads up to St Bonnet at approx 800’ (BPF stamp,14thC church, old houses).This is now the high Auvergne plateau area, farmland and forests. Interesting cathedral - a lovely area.

Hotel Port d’Auvergne: excellent cheap hotel. Room 100frs. Meal 60frs and 25frs P/D.

High Lyonnais countryside

Loire gorges below Chambles

18/8 - St Bonnet to St Privat d’Allier. Warm to hot sunny day. 63mls.

High plateau riding with forests, farmland and scattered villages - very scenic. Minor roads then to Craponne for cafe stop. Onto La Chaise Dieu (important cathedral and religous site & BPF stamp). Had lunch here. Down through Allegre (interesting fortified village centre) and then a hot climb through forest to get back onto the high plateau before descending to St Privat – nice location overlooking Allier gorges. Rode down to Monistrol in the valley to get our BPF stamp (for the Allier Gorges).

Hotel La Vielle Auberge: Good stop. Room 170frs. Meal 89frs. P/D 30frs.

19/8 - St Privat to Le Beage. Warm and sunny day, hot at times. 44mls

Warm climb to Montbonnet at 1100’ then lovely narrow high level road via Cayres to volcanic lake - Lac Bonnet (BPF stamp, old volcanic lake). Cafe stop here. On the high Auvergne volcanic plateau (big wide horizons) now to Barges then wooded valley and climb to Concurcon. Downhill swoop and uphill past Lac Issarles (BPF stamp, volcanic lake, but now a holiday centre) for 5mls to Le Beage on the upper slopes - a small mountain village, one of our favorite locations-nothing special about the village-it just had a nice feel to it.

Hotel Beausjour: excellent location. Room 140frs(shower extra at 20frs p.p). Meal 57 or 85frs. P/D 25frs

20/8 - Le Beage - Gerbier de Jonc circuit. Warm to hot and sunny all day. 50mls.

Gerbier de Jonc

In the high Auvergne

Late start at 11:00hrs, waiting for mobile bread van to call. Uphill to Gerbier de Jonc (BPF stamp - weird volcanic plug & source of the Loire nearby). Superb long distance views all day - 1100’ to 1400’. Picnic lunch before getting to Fay-s-Lignon - cafe stop then onto Lac St Front (BPF stamp, lake & church) before back via Les Estables - winter skiing area). This part of the Auverge is another of our favorites – high plateau and long distance views.

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