Compared to our hiking and biking exploits in Switzerland throughout September, the first week of October has been relatively uneventful in comparison as we have taken some time to relax let our bodies recover a little. That said, it's hard to say where the week has gone as the days seem to be passing faster and faster as the weeks go by. After dropping Esther off at Geneva airport last Tuesday evening I retired to a lovely peaceful campsite just across the border in France close to Divonne-les-Bains where I enjoyed 2 days alternating between giving the motorhome a much needed autumn clean and reading all of the English language books in the campsite book collection.
Before I knew it Friday morning had arrived and I was back at the airport collecting a very tired Esther who had been burning the candle at both ends in Holland with her family and not helped by the unwelcome plane delays. In fact, Esther was so tired that any worries about where we were heading to over the next few weeks were put on hold until at least the next day. Choosing a relatively nearby aire in the beautiful town of Annecy, which had been recommended to us more than 3 months ago by Graham and Freya who we had met in Martigny, we were able to get parked up by mid-afternoon and just put our feet up in the afternoon sunshine. It was a refreshing change to be lounging around in a warm motorhome after some of the bitter nights we had endured in the Alps, although the snow capped peaks were markedly absent. We even enjoyed meeting a fellow British traveller, Elaine, who popped in for a cup of tea which was another nice experience after so long alone in the mountains.
Following a peaceful stroll around beautiful Annecy on Saturday morning, with the lake set against tree covered mountains in brilliant sunshine and the narrow old streets decorated with brightly coloured flowers, we hit the road again heading south. Our next destination we had decided was Mont Ventoux, in the heart of Provence, and the location of another famous Tour de France climb. Provence is also region we had wanted to visit back in summer but had decided it was too far to detour from the heart of the Alps. Now we were chasing the warmer weather south and Mont Ventoux lay directly between us and the Mediterranean coast. A perfect opportunity.
Although Mont Ventoux lay less than 200 miles driving to the south which we would have thought nothing of covering back in the UK, after meandering so gently through Switzerland and covering less than 400 miles in the whole of September we elected to break the journey into at least 2 stages as it felt like a very long way. Plus after such late start on Saturday from Annecy combined with a long stop at a handy camping store to replenish some motorhome essentials and have an extra lock fitted to our back door (something we'd been thinking about since leaving the UK and they had a special offer on) we didn't make it very far at all on Saturday. This was also not helped by spending a good half an hour following hundreds of sheep through a tiny hamlet! What a mess they made.
Resuming our journey on Sunday morning we realised, looking at the map, that in completing our journey to Provence we would spend a large part of the day tracking the Rhone on it's way to join the sea close to Marseille. Having stood looking down on the source of this mighty river at the Rhone glacier just weeks before it was exciting to now be gazing over this vast expanse of slow moving water that the icy stream had become. In fact, our route had tracked much of the water course along the Rhone valley, around Lac Leman and south from Geneva. It felt good to now be completing the journey and imagining that some of the water that we were driving along had melted from that mighty glacier, perhaps as we had stood looking at it.
Arriving tired from our relatively long drive on Sunday afternoon we settled into the large but busy aire in Malaucene at the foot of the climb to the summit of Mont Ventoux, which was shrouded in cloud, and reflected on how much had changed in just a few days. From some of the highest mountains in Europe to the rolling Mediterranean orchards and vineyards of Provence. What would the next few weeks have in store for us?
During our stay at the Aire in Annecy - we lent our water hose to an Australian family so that they could fill up their motorhome with water as theirs had gone missing. Unexpectedly and very kindly, they returned it along with a little thank you pressie -a keyring with a small kola bear in a red 'Australia' shirt. We have named her 'Kylie the Kola' (obviously!) and she has settled in nicely, joining our other travelling buddies! We were really touched. The family are travelling around Europe and their motorhome had their blog address on the back, you can read about their travels here: www.eurotrip2014.com.au. We wish them a very happy and safe onward travels.