Cycling the alps has most definitely been the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done! I’ve been debating whether it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done as it’s both a mental and physical challenge whereas finishing my degree was just mentally challenging.
As I’m going uphill with the weight of my body plus an extra 30 kgs on the bike, I have a constant battle in my mind of ‘you can do it, you can do it’ followed by ‘nope I can’t, I can’t go on anymore’. This is then followed by ‘but how can you stop? We have no other way of continuing’. I then think of Utes/trucks/tractors that go flying past and wish they’d offer us a lift in which case I’d say yes. But, none do. When I reach the top and we’ve started the downhill part, I suddenly forget all that hard work and totally enjoy the views and go back to loving cycling and thinking ‘how could I have ever wanted to stop!’ It’s almost as if I feel like I’ve earned the reward of the beautiful view haha.
Since leaving Guillaumes’ place, we headed south and stopped in Avignon. It is a really pretty town next to a river but it was absolutely packed when we were there. A drama festival was on for the month of July which is apparently the most famous drama festival in France. It was really cool riding around the walled-city with people walking around dressed up in character promoting their play. Since it was the festival time the campsites were all nearly full and we paid the most we’ve ever paid for a campsite in France – 28 euros! What a rip!
Our previous plan was to head south to Marseille and follow the coast along to Turkey, hitting all the countries in between. It is the peak travel season for Europeans and after our time in Avignon realizing how busy all of the coastal cities will be, we changed our direction and headed east towards the alps. It’s disappointing because Marseille was so close and that was where we were aiming for all this time but it’s just too packed down here. We were both disappointed missing out on the beaches but it’s really stressful when there’s lots of traffic/other tourists crowding our space haha. We like secluded places and the hidden spots that tourists haven’t got to yet! So we’ve come up with another plan and are heading north again. More on that later.
Boy, are we glad we changed our route. I will definitely be back another time to do the south coast of France but the Serre-poncon Lake definitely made up for it. It is in the high alps region of France and is situated at 780m above sea level so you can imagine how high the mountains surrounding it are! There’s a photo of a castle below which we’ve decided will be a holiday house of ours haha. This area is perfect for all seasons as it gets hot in summer and there are plenty of water activities and then in winter, there’d be lots of snow perfect for skiing!
When we first caught sight of the lake we couldn’t believe our eyes. We knew a lake was coming up over the mountain but we weren’t prepared for the beauty of it. We immediately pulled over and took some photos and posted them online wanting to share them with everyone haha. As we continued downhill, the scenery got more and more beautiful and we got more and more excited! It was a tough ride up the mountain so to be greeted with these views and knowing we were headed for the lake was awesome.
PS in the photos below have a look for the lavender fields above the lake – two different colours – so beautiful!