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255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here goes for my firtst ride(s) report.
Spring is just around the corner here in Geneva Switzerland, but it comes a little earlier just a few hours drive away in the south of France. As my girlfriend and I finally got time off together off we went in the car packed full with the kids and two bikes.
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Sunset from the car heading down at about Orange

The trip down took a little longer than expected as we took "route nationale" instead of the highways but we finally got there for lunch the next day after staying the night in a "formule 1" creditcard hotel(to the excitment of 4 yr. old Emma who had the top bunk). And we did the usualy ****** tourist on the beach picnic thing.
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The next day we set off to do a loop that was timed at 5 to 6 hours on the camp site web site that went round along the coast, over some small "cols" in the hills to st.Tropez and back a little inland.
What we hadn't figured on was the 30 k's into the wind and slightly uphill just to get to the loop! We ended up only getting to the loop in le Lavandou at about 13:30, just in time for lunch!
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Looking out to sea before heading off again
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The wind was really pretty strong from the east and that was the way we were going along the coast but the route started to follow an old train track that dipped in and out of gullies that hid us from the wind and sun.
Even along the roads there were quite a few bike paths and where there weren't, the drivers were quite patient. Maybe having a kid on the back helps with that.
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255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
We went through some beautiful pine forest that made a canopy over the road and kept us cool while climbing. It was only spring , but you could feel the heat already.

At about this stage we started to realise that we weren't going to make it back to the campsite for night fall. We went through la Croix-Valmer which was really touristy and didn't look promising for a b&b, so we continued on in hope.

The first hill we came to was quite a way down the coast ( or at least it seemed a way)
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Notice the bullet hole in the sign!
This is hunting country!
Not something we're used to in Switzerland where hunting is banned.

We finally found a place in Ramatuelle as the sun was going down and after a really steep climb up to the village
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We were all pretty exhausted and glad of the shower food and bed.

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The next morning we set off quickly to get breakfast in st.Tropez. (we we're a little embarassed at turning up at nightfall with 2 young kids and no change of clothes on bikes!

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This is the Romantuelle and gives you an idea of the climb we had to do before bed the evening before!

255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·

We got to st.Tropez at about 9 after a small climb and nice descent.
The first cafe we went into was little out of our price range (the multi million yachts in the harbour in front of it should have given us a warning!) We had our 3 euro expressos and went and got croissants and pains au chocolat in the old town and went to have breakfast down by the port.
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The boats in the port were unbelievable. A flotilla of classic 30's to 50's wooden sailing yachts had come from London. A woman was having her breakfast with strawberry jam on the deck of one while the crew were cleaning the deck. (terribly civilised!)
Another motor yacht had come frome queensland Australia.

On the way out we went passed the building where the french cult films "Les Gendarmes", starring Louis deFunes, were filmed. View attachment 53262
The building is covered in graffiti in praise of the films and actors, it reminded me of Jim Morrison's grave.

View attachment 53264 This is a view back on st.Tropez as we headed out to the hills and back to the camp site.

255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Inland and up

From st.Tropez we went through Cogolin and la Môle, before starting the climb up to the 2 "cols" that we had before the descent back to our side of the hills.
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This was the first one which we reached after a long gentle climb through the valley that stretched from la Môle.We saw a live snake and a dead wild boar with a large hole blown in its head by the side of the road on the way up.

Once up in the hills in was a rolling road with fantastic views of the presqu'ile de Giens (where we were camping) and the forest and coast.
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Although Ben had taken off one of his shoes and thrown it away the day before (Catriona hadn't noticed cause I was hiding behind her from the wind:blush2: ) He still had his socks :D
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255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The ride back down was great and lasted for ages.
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We went through Bormes le Mimosas and back down to Le Lavandou which was where we had started the loop from.
Only 30 k's back to the campsite, and this time the wind was with us and it was slightly downhill. I'm afraid we ended up in mcD's before heading ot the beach back near the tent. We did look for proper food first but outside of meal times in France that can be tricky.

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Emma:"Was it that mountain we came across?"

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A nice villa down on the presqu'ile

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Ben still in his socks

255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Enough Biking!

After the previous 2 days we thought we would have a quiet walk aroung the island of Porquerolles which is just off the end of the presqu'ile. We rode down to the port, left our bikes and took the ferry across to the island.
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It almost seemed like we'd ended up in the bahamas or something, with even more palm trees and a fishing dock and stuff.
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And no cars!!!
Everyone was on bikes and so what did we end up doing? We rented bikes!!!
They had trailers for kids that Emma had wanted to try for a long time, so we got one for her and Ben.
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She was tickled pink:D

255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mountain bikes

The trails were all dirt and so the bikes we rented were mountain bikes, which was a first for Catriona and me.
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The trails went all along the coast of the island and there was a yacht race going on which we stopped to watch.
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We continued for a while before Ben figured out he could get out of his straps which kind of freaked us out. The trails were pretty hairy and the trailer was bouncing about and Ben standing up and hanging his head out the side shouting. I found that if I went sort of fast the bumps were enough to shake some sense into Ben and he'd sit down at least.

Needless to say the whole thing wore him out!!
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And gave him an appetite for when he woke up!!
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255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Route back

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That evening when we got back to the campsite a big group of jetskiiers arrived and kept arriving and drinking till 1 30 in the morning. The kids slept through it all but as the group was going to stay for 3 days we decided to leave a day early.
We packed up the car and headed back, this time through the Alpes de haute Provence.
Going through the grand canyon of Verdon which was breathtaking we kept on north
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We came up over the col du Lautaret and wanted to see the Galibier but it was still closed!
There was still loads of snow and the steepness of the road was truly impressive.
There was writing all over the road and I could just imagine the tdF flying up it!

The rest of the trip back was pretty eventfull,heavy fog in the dark, almost running out of petrol in the mountains, running over some large rocks and debris that covered the road that had fallen from the cliffs in the spring melt, and finally having to stay in another hotel just to be able to find a petrol station open that would take my credit card the next morning. Still that meant we were sort of fresh the next morning when we got home.

255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Off again

We were only back two days before going to the UK to visit my mum and sister.
We even ended up renting bikes there too, in Richmond park which has deer and loads of wild birds.
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All in all the holidays were a great success. Biking with kids is almost less tireing than camping with kids cause at least you don't have to keep on running after them!

Premium Member
10,106 Posts
Great Pictures

Nineteen years ago, my wife and I spent our wedding trip on the Cote d'Azur. This summer we are going back with our daughters, who are 17 and 14 years old. Your pictures from the South of France brought back many happy memories of our wedding trip and have increased my anticipation of our upcoming trip. I will have my bike with me. But, the girls are way to old and too big for me to put them on a seat or pull them in a trailer. My expectation is that my wife and the girls will be spending time on the beach while I am riding up and down the hills.

During our travels over the years, we have had a few unexpected changes in plans. My youngest daughter was just looking over my shoulder and remarked that your unscheduled stay in the B&B because you could not get back to the campground sounded just like something from our family travels. It is nice to know that other families have vacations like ours. As the years go by, you will find that the unplanned vacation detours often the most fun and the subject of the most stories after you get home.

Thanks for the pictures and the report.

255 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good times

Thanks Mark
You're definitely right about the impromptu stops. Emma was really kind of baffled by the whole episode and we got more and more worried as night fell. But all's well that ends well, as they say.
Hope you have fun down there on your trip. If you're looking for a day out as a family and a break from the road biking, then mountain biking on Porquerolle island might be a good idea. There are loads of beaches that you can only get to by bike that make it a bit of an adventure.
This is a link to the loop we did. The site's got a couple of others as well as diving and other fun things to do.
Hope you have a good time. The area is really great.

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