Well. Somehow or another, we seemed to have arrived in Marseille. And what a spectacular place to finish a tour!
Coming over the top of the mountains which protect Marseille to the north west - the first glimpse of the city was stunning. The huge city, with its array of buildings old and new, formed a massive crescent around the turquoise sea, under the clear blue sky. There were several massive cruise liners moored further out in the bay. The old harbour was a buzzing with activity and colour. Marseille is a strange amalgam of extremes. Like Beverley Hills meets The Bronx. But the result is effervescent!
The day wasn't at all plain sailing though, JC awoke (eventually) in a bit of a Norman Wisdom mood. Within half an hour of breakfast, she'd broken the toilet seat and broken the shampoo dispenser. I ushered her out of the room and down to the bikes before she started on the light fittings.
We rolled out if Arles. Drinking a glass of (virtual) Champagne as well pedalled.
We cycled down through the empty, flat roads of the Carmarge for a couple of hours blissfully unaware if that trials that were to come.
A very tranquil place, devoid of much habitation, save for the odd ranch. We observed plenty of bird life and saw the famous White Horses. We stopped for a while to gather figs for our lunch.
All this time something was brewing. Far away.
The weather was perfect. About 24C with just the occasional whiff of cloud.
At the southern tip of the Camargue, we turned east, towards Marseille. At this precise moment something that had been streaking south, across the flat landscape hit us with fury! The Mistral wind. One moment there was a cool breeze, the next there was this absolute hurricane. Jackie panicked and threw her bike over the low barriers. I laid my bike against a post to help and my bike was whisked along the ground by the wind like a tag doll. We gained some measure of control and regrouped. We still had a long way to go. We pushed the bikes for a while, dodging flying debris. It was madness! After some time, we realised that we had to ride. So we waited until it died down (a little), then got back on. The side wind was the problem. We had to lean so far to one side to keep control. It was like cycling through treacle inside a washing machine that was being shaken. We battled on like this for several miles. Then we came to a big roundabout. Our way was to turn right, onto the N568. South! We were going to have this enormous wind in our backs for about six miles. Ready. Steady. Go! We launched ourselves away from the curb and rode 'The Beast'. For several miles we streaked down that road. In the top gear, hardly being able to keep up with the pedals. I thought of how those 'Free Divers' must feel when they manage to grab onto the dorsal fin of a Blue Whale. Whoop! Whoop!
After the fun we turned east once more, but, away from the openness of the Camargue the problems were more or less gone. But we had been blown too far south and, having missed our turning, the road turned into an Autoroute. No bikes allowed! So yet again we found ourselves clambering over barriers and fighting our way through dense undergrowth. (See pictures)
That's about it.
Tomorrow we take a train transfer to Bezier for a few days rest on the beach. Probably with some rose wine in the cool box.