Weather cloudy start 11c. Over breakfast Kaye had been checking the weather on her phone and pulled up news of the fuel crisis which would explain why we had seen queues at petrol stations yesterday, the reports of shortages were not encouraging but we thought there was just enough fuel in the motor home to make it to Nice.
Leaving St-Etienne-des-Sorts yesterdays quiet road in had given way to rush hour traffic. The D138/138A road surface was awful with pot holes more reminiscent of Hampshire and trying to avoid them was a little precarious with speeding vehicles for company. The roadside fields were full of vines until I turned onto the 138A to keep close to the River Rhone. It soon became clear where the traffic had been going as I passed what I think was a nuclear power station that seemed to go on for miles, the three separate rows of mesh fencing with razor wire and a central electric fence suggested they were taking security pretty seriously.
As I approached the Rhone crossing a large barge had just passed and the flow of water over the barrier was powerful and noisy.
The road all the way to Chateauneuf-du-Pape is as you would expect lined with vines and adverts for wine “caves”. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is one of the great wines and I think I can now reveal their secret ingredient, curry powder, for a 5km radius of the village all you can smell is curry powder…….
As you leave the village the vines continue and as you descend to Bedarrides the imposing sight of Mt Ventoux steals your gaze.
From Bedarrides the road continues to Monteux and we were seeing more and more closed fuel stations and the odd one that was open had a police presence. Given the situation Kaye decided to join a queue to try to keep the motor home topped up and eventually got 20lts, all they were allowing each motorist. Monteux to Carpentas are quite close and on the day a traffic nightmare but at least the navigation is simple following the D942 through Mazan and on to Villes-sur-Auzon.
Approaching Villes-sur-Auzon there is the giant Ventoux wine co-operative and the entrance to the town is through a Poplar tree-lined corridor. As you leave you take a right fork to the Gorge de la Nesque and enjoy a 19km albeit gradual climb. The route is pretty but not spectacular and when you reach the tunnels you are close to the top of the climb at Rocher du Cire. From the summit the descent is welcome and on through Monieux before rejoining the D942 to Sault. Passing the village of La Loge and its lavender stalls the road ramps up to the historic village of Sault and its gateway to Ventoux. The Wednesday market was in full swing as I entered and a pre planned lunch date with Kaye in the car park.
Leaving Sault the D950 takes us most of the way to our destination of Forcalquier, apart from Ventoux it is clear the major industry of the area is Lavender. Through St-Trinit and Revest-du-Bion our next town in Lavender country is Banon and then Le Rocher d’Ongles, Kaye was immediately attentive to the L’Occitane lavender factory thinking that given the money she pays for the produce they could afford better premises. The road from here was undulating but fairly quick and as i crossed the River Laye I could see Forcalquier ahead and climbed up through the town, past the cathedral and a couple of turns later I was at the camp site.
Camp Site: Indigo Camping €21-50 (ouch) Electricity, hot showers, bar, wi-fi, motor home service point.
Stats 92 miles 5095 ft climbing