Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Stage 20 ....The Arrival....WE HAVE MADE IT! We left the IBIS in good order. At least the breakfast was lavish - though lacking the idiosyncracities of some of the others we have enjoyed. The price of an"international" approach. Still it makes for a good send off. Then on to the Via Rhona. This is the most fantastic cycle route from the Leman to the Mediterranean, taking in Vienne to Valence. I imagined it might have been part of an ancient road but I can find no reference to this; I believe it has been especially created for cyclists. Three cheers. It follows the Rhone and is (on the whole) very clearly marked, well paved and delightful. No traffic! What a change from yesterday. The result we made excellent time and met Agnes  sister for a picnic lunch. Yes, the weather was fine! The landscape was wonderful - the Ardeches - if in Burgundy the hills are rolling, here they are like great skirts of pleated taffeta heavily forested with the occasional house or tower appearing precipitously while the vineyards seem to be clinging to the mountainsides. Breathtaking.By the afternoon the sun came out properly. So we continued...then Wow suddenly we were surrounded by cyclists, almost all of whom knew Agnes - cousins and friends and the local cycling club. So we were then escorted to Malissard in a celebratory convoy up hill and down Dale. I am pleased to report I did not let Scotland/UK down by either failing to cycle up hills or by falling off on corners! So we arrived to an amazing welcome. How kind everyone has been. Then, can you believe it ..we were summoned to the Mairie for more celebrations, bouquets AND medallions! Indeed the Mayor, himself was there. I felt very humble - this was for Agnes. But I am also pleased that I managed to keep up..and what an amazing, enjoyable and on occasion challenging experience. Thank you to all those who have supported and encouraged us.
I will hope to reflect a bit more tomorrow. Now to practice my French. Oh la la

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