Europe

By bike through the Gorges du Tarn to Point Sublime

A beautiful, crisp September morning in the south of France. Yesterday’s storm had long passed, the sun was already making her presence known but the warmth of the day hadn’t arrived yet. And we, we were putting on our cycling outfit. Ready to discover the beautiful canyons that were surrounding us.

Deep in the Tarn canyon, along the Tarn river, you can cycle without much effort. It’s mostly flat and the views are pretty a-ma-zing. Being surrounded by those high walls of rock is quite impressive. In the morning the sun however hasn’t reached over the edge of the canyon yet, so it was quite chilly. But nothing a good sweater and wind-beater can’t fix. And the misty look gives it a really special vibe as well!

Of course, simply riding along the river wasn’t quite challenging enough for us. There was a viewpoint called ‘Point Sublime’ on the edge of the canyon, and that was our destination that morning. But to get from the valley of the canyon to that edge, we of course had to climb. Quite a bit actually. And while it wasn’t a long a climb as Col de la Machine, it was a bit steeper at certain points. My poor, still tired legs, were already crying.

But just like last time, if I wanted to get to the viewpoint, cycling was the only way to get there. So up we went. After a nice ten kilometer ride through the valley, we were well warmed-up to begin our hairpin climb via Col de Saint-Rome-de-Dolan. The average percentage was 8, but at the steepest part, we had to conquer 11%. Phew!

Ain’t no mountain high enough however, cause I made it once again! From the top, it was another five-ish kilometers to the actual viewing point. It wasn’t entirely flat, but no more heavy climbing from there. Perfect to catch your breath before you arrive to the destination. And then get your breath taken away again by the view! Damn!

I don’t know if the fact that I got there on my own strength adds to the experience, but that was one hell of a sight. Seeing the river twist through the gorge, knowing that not that much earlier we were cycling all the way down there. Pretty epic!

And to top it all off, there were loads of wild vultures circling overhead. I’d never seen a wild one so close! Highlight for sure! And if we looked into the valley, more wildlife could be spotted. Thanks to a friendly man who allowed us to borrow his binoculars we could see a small herd of mouflons, a species of wild sheep, climbing over the rocks. Aaaah nature, isn’t it marvelous?

We hung out at the viewing deck for well over half an hour. Enjoying a snack and just taking in the sights. This was the last major activity of our ‘Tour de France’, so we wanted to savor it before we started our trek back north, back home.

For the ride back to the camp ground, we took the same route again. After shitting my pants on the descent on the col – yup, still not a fan -, we cycled back through the valley of the gorge. It was already close to noon now, so the sun was high up in the sky and shining brightly over the canyon. While it was the same road as before, it looked entirely different and even more beautiful in this new light.

While that was the end of our time in this beautiful part of France, there is still a lot of other stuff to be discovered there. Being by bike made us of course limited to what we could do, but I would have loved to check out of a few more viewpoints. There are also many options for kayaking or even a boat trip with the boatmen of the Gorges du Tarn; Les Bateliers.

Usually having so much left undiscovered would make me anxious, but with France being so “close” to where I live, I could head back home in peace. This trip certainly won’t have been the last time I’ve traveled to France.

If it wasn’t for that awful virus, I would have been to other places this year. Places that at first may seem or sound more spectacular. But somehow being forced to stay closer to home in 2020 made me discover how sickeningly beautiful France is. And how damned lucky I am to have such an amazing place within reach. I’ve spent ten days discovering even the less touristic places of this country and didn’t find myself bored one single second. France, you haven’t seen the last of me, that’s for sure!

♡ Ellen

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