Horned cyclists and old Citroëns: Lac de Croix to Castellane

On our rest days so far we’ve not often chosen to rest- sometimes hiring pedalos, sometimes walking many miles around a city looking for fountains or, in yesterday’s case, paddling a canoe up a gorge and around a lake.  As soon as we woke up, we could both feel our shoulders nice and stiff ready for a climb up away from the lake to the next town of Castellane.

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As the first half of the day’s 28 mile trip was a long climb up over the gorge that we’d rowed through yesterday, we set off nice and early when it was still a chilly 15 degrees at 7:45 but even in the cool air it was hard work. Before long though, we started being rewarded with stunning views back over the lake.

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The river that flows down the gorge also goes through Castellane and the road we were on takes an almost identical path, often carved into the cliffs in the gorge itself. The views from up here were arguably better than the ones we’d seen yesterday and definitely scarier, with sheer drops mere inches from our wheels.

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It took us just over an hour and a half to reach the peak of the mountain and when we did, we got a round of applause from a Belgian cyclist in white Lyrca with horns attached to his helmet who’d arrived at the top 5 minutes earlier.

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We chatted for a while about our respective trips, he said he was currently doing the 100 guls (mountains) challenge, a several thousand kilometre tour of Europe’s 100 biggest and baddest mountains. So far he’d been going for 3 weeks and had done 3500 kilometers (about 2200 miles) and over 50 mountains. Unfortunately he’d not get to complete it before he returned to his family in August, but with a year to complete the challenge he hoped to finish it in September and join the 350 others that have completed the route in its 40 year history. Crackers.

For reaching the top we were rewarded (in addition to the round of applause from the horned cyclist) with a few miles of downhill and lots more lovely scenery.

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It wasn’t long before we were back on the up again for the last third of our journey but once again, the roads and scenery made the time pass very quickly and by 11:20 we’d already arrived and checked into our campsite. Early birds!

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With the entire afternoon to kill we headed into the town for a look around. It was a small town with a church perched at the top of a cliff overlooking it.  We considered going to look but decided it wasn’t the best activity after climbing a mountain that morning. It was also insanely busy as there was a market in the town centre car park.

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Not wanting to spend all our money on fine meats and cheeses, nor saddle ourselves with tat that we’d have to cart around for several months, we escaped the market and headed out of town to the nearby Citroën museum, which is home to over 50 cars and was much better than we expected it to be. Each of the cars had some technical info and also a (usually funny) story on how the owner acquired it, who owned it before and its history. It was even written in English!

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Most notably they have the oldest surviving H-Van (chassis number 2) and the oldest surviving DS (chassis number 27, or 37 maybe I can’t remember). The DS actually pre-dates production lines starting, meaning it was entirely built by hand. Ace.

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I dragged out the museum for as long as I could but eventually had to leave when Neola’s eyes started to glaze over.  We spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with our blog posts and drinking the wine “I’M FROM HOLLAND” gave us the night before. Later we treated ourselves to another pizza and a crepe before retiring early for the 50

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