Introduction page of our cycling trip from the Netherlands to Barcelona. The route we cycled. travelogue + photographs, part 1. travelogue + photographs, part 2. travelogue + photographs, part 3. travelogue + photographs, part 4. What did we think of the trip? Our gear: what kind of bikes etc do we have? The fun and not-so-fun parts of cycling trips. A tour through Belgium, 11 days, 810 km. From the Netherlands to the Italian Riviera (near Nice, France). Animated movies, 3D Studio Max stuff, VRML About me, email address Travel Home, travels sorted by activity Annapurna Base Camp trek, Chitwan, rafting, Kathmandu & around Road trip through Sweden in march Canadian Rockies + Vancouver Island A weekend with friends on the Dutch Wadden Island of Ameland Sydney, Fraser Island, diving Great Barrier Reef, Outback, Kakadu, Litchfield Granada, Barcelona, and Portuguese Algarve Total solar eclipse in Turkey, 2006 Cycling trip around Belgium - in Dutch only Cycling from the Netherlands to Italy - in Dutch only

Trip to Barcelona:


Other cycling trips (in Dutch only):

Description of our cycling trip from the Netherlands to Spain - Part 3

In april/may of 2003, Eric and I cycled from Eindhoven (our home city in the Netherlands) to Barcelona, Spain. You'll find our "live" travelogue, written at internet cafes along the way, on these pages.
You can find a map of our route on this page. We followed the route described by Paul Benjaminse.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me through the email address on my home page!
Nederlands (Dutch version of these pages.)

Day 17 - Wednesday 14 may 2003
Destination: Aurec-sur-Loire (France)
Distance: 82 km
Total dist: 1203 km
Ave speed: 18.5 km/hr
Max speed: 40.5 km/hr
Today's trip started off with a slightly boring section, through meadows, under a heavy grey sky; in the afternoon, however, the sun came out, although it remained cold at about 12 degrees celsius.
We had another pretty serious climb today, to 633 m, followed by a fast (and freezing) descent to the Loire. Luckily there were beautiful views during this descent!
As we were drinking some water along the side of the road somewhere, a car stopped, and a man approached us, asking all sorts of stuff about our bicycles. As it turned out, he's also a long-distance cyclist, and he wants to have a bike like ours, except that - apparently - they're not for sale in France! He gave us his address, and 10 euro, and requested that we send him information on these (and similar) bikes from the Netherlands. Wow. [Afterword: we did send brochures, and addresses of bicycle stores in Belgium, and hope we have helped him out!]
While we were warm, in the sun and sheltered from the wind, in Aurec, we decided to go camping, despite the predictions of very low nightly temperatures. Once we were at the campground, and the sun went down, however, it was way too cold to hang around the tent. It turns out it even froze at night, a couple of degrees; we're surprised that it even gets this cold in the south of France. We went into a restaurant for a cup of tea, to warm up, and ended up staying there for dinner. We were the only customers in the restaurant, and chatted away with the very friendly co-owner all evening. She even gave us a candle, which she told us to light briefly in the tent, as it would dispell the moisture and some of the worst cold. She also told us the remarkable story about the Loire. Rivers as we normally know them start in mountains or hills, and flow toward a lake or the ocean, but the Loire is a "different kind of river." You see, the Loire starts in the Atlantic Ocean, and then flows to the Massif Central. When we asked her what happens to it in the Massif, she said it "just stops there." Well, that's certainly very remarkable. Apparently they don't spend a lot of time watching the river's direction of flow in Aurec-sur-Loire?

Top of page
Day 18 - Thursday 15 may 2003
Destination: Le Puy-en-Velay (France)
Distance: 67 km
Total dist: 1277 km
Ave speed: 16.7 km/hr
Max speed: 55.5 km/hr
Ah, this morning we were greeted by the sun! How about that! There was no calm warming-up for us today: we started a climb with two arrows right off the campground. Next came a descent with an arrow, another climb with an arrow, and so on, somewhere above the Loire.
Chapel on the Rocher de St. Michel
	d'Aigulhe, volcanic leftovers. There were a few more tough ascents, but the final 30 km to Le Puy climbed only very gradually, along the Loire. We felt a little weak in the legs today, perhaps because of the steep climbs we started off with; the going was slow. All of our usual discomforts grew into pains. But we took a few extra breaks, in the sunshine, kept on going, and made our goal. Oh, well, such days are also part of the deal...
We set up our tent on the Le Puy campground. One of our tent poles broke as we zipped the tent shut, but we have a repair piece, and used it to fix the break. Now we'll just have to hope that it lasts us for a few more weeks!
At last, we finally spent the evening at the campground again, and cooked. After dinner, we had some company: a cycling German, who was very happy to accept our offer of a few glasses of wine. He is something of a bike-enthusiast, and his bike looked more like a truck! It was amazing, the amount of gear (and junk) he had dangling off it. From cans of pepperspray (to keep off dogs), to rearview mirrors, to little plastic signs sticking out of the side of the bike, that force the traffic to keep a distance.

Top of page
Day 19 - Friday 16 may 2003
Destination: Le Puy-en-Velay (France)
Distance: - km (day off)
We're really ready for a day off. In the morning, we slept in, did the laundry, worked on the travelogue, went to an internet cafe...
Although we had never before heard of Le Puy, this, too, turns out The chapel on the volcanic cone, 
	seen from the statue of Mary on the other cone. to be a beautiful town, so we're going to have a look around lateron. There are two remarkable mounds in town, which are both of volcanic origin. A statue of Holy Mary towers on one of them, and there's a chapel on the other. Quite a sight. When we first spotted them as we came cycling into town, yesterday, we were completely taken by surprise!
We're going to get our hair cut here this afternoon: I wonder how that's going to work out!
We've probably got the toughest day in the entire trip coming up tomorrow - we'll have to climb all of 1200 m with our heavily loaded bikes! Let's just we succeed!
By the way, we've noticed that Judith always descends faster than Eric, if both are not pedalling. Judith thinks that this proves that her bike is loaded more heavily; Eric claims it's because his shoulders are so wide.

Top of page
Day 20 - Saturday 17 may 2003
Destination: Langogne (France)
Distance: 64 km
Total dist: 1352 km
Ave speed: 13.4 km/hr (mostly climbing)
Max speed: 43.0 km/hr (descents were too steep to go fast)
This was the day of our largest ascent. We climbed about 1200 m, in Grey skies above the hills of the
	Massif Central. total, but there were also a few descents. The maximum height we reached was 1245 m, and that should be the highest point of our entire trip.
It was raining when we got up, but stayed dry for the rest of the day. We started off with a steep climb of about 300 m. Then we descended, climbed again, and again, until we were on a high plateau, with beautiful views. We then descended all the way down to the Loire, climbed again, and again, until we reached an even higher plateau, with nearly 360 degree views. This was a beautiful day, with respect to the views, and all of Bridge across the Loire, close to the 
	source. the climbing was not as bad as we had feared it would be. And, as promised by the author of our route description, there was a cafe just beyond the highest point of our trip, and it was open too! What luck! We celebrated with a beer, and descended carefully to Langogne (1000 m).
From what we heard, the Langogne campground isn't very good, and we were freezing after our descent, so we hopped into a hotel once again. Langogne itself, like most other towns in the southern Massif Central, looks like its best days are long gone. There are supposed to be 7 (!) hotels, but we got the impression that only 2 or 3 of them are open; the rest is either out of business, or is for sale. It all looks a little sad. But that doesn't spoil our cycling pleasure!

Top of page
Day 21 - Sunday 18 may 2003
Destination: Les Vans (France)
Distance: 63 km
Total dist: 1416 km
Ave speed: 18.2 km/hr
Max speed: 42.0 km/hr (descents were too dangerous - and too beautiful - to rush down)
It took us a while to get going, this morning. Today, we pretty much descended out of the Massif Central. Cycling out of Langogne, it was a bit flat for a while, and then we descended for 40 km (!) through a beautiful National Park. We twisted through pine forests and rocks. The landscape is very wild, it even reminded us a little of the lower valleys in Nepal. There were deserted villages scattered here and there, ruined houses, and a couple of hydroelectric power stations. Another remarkable fact is that we haven't seen Dutch license plates for several days now. Where could they all be??
After having squeezed the brakes for a long time, and having cycled high above rivers, through beautiful canyons, we arrived in Les Vans. We had actually planned to go about 30 km further south today, to St. Ambroix, but we were tired, and it was getting late, so we stopped in Les Vans.
We're at the Les Vans campground, among a few semi-permanent, elderly campers in caravans. Les Vans has a good restaurant, La Rose des Vans, which has internet. It also has an outside terrace, and... we even ate outside, it seems to be a lot warmer over here than in the Massif Central!

Top of page
Day 22 - Monday 19 may 2003
Destination: St. Hippolyte du Fort (France)
Distance: 100 km
Total dist: 1518 km
Ave speed: 15.8 km/hr
Max speed: 47.0 km/hr
Wow, there was a beautiful blue sky this morning, when we got up, and we were convinced that we've finally made it into some good weather. But alas. It was overcast by 11, and raining by noon.
View of Les Vans. But that didn't lower our spirits. The cycling went well, we felt physically strong, and we had started off our day with a steep climb above Les Vans, and a wonderful view of the town. In the early afternoon, as we were having a "sanitary stop" just south of St. Ambroix, two Dutch cyclists approached us. The man was towing a cute little cart, with their baggage (now that's a good idea!). They're also on their way to Barcelona, but after that they're continuing on to Portugal, and they're also cycling back! They do have half a year planned for all of this.
We kept on going, steadily, while it either rained or threatened to do so, through hills and fields. Apart from the climb near Les Vans, there were only short but extremely steep ascents today (south of St. Ambroix), where our speed dropped down to only 5 km/hr!
We arrived in St. Hippolyte in the pouring rain. There are no real hotels here, but 2 people offer rooms; one of these was not yet open for the season, and the other didn't really want us. Luckily, however, the second took us in after we pleaded for a while. It's a beautiful old house, with a room with a four-poster bed!

Top of page
Day 23 - Tuesday 20 may 2003
Destination: Pezenas (France)
The Herault Valley. Distance: 88 km
Total dist: 1607 km
Ave speed: 16.8 km/hr
Max speed: 53.5 km/hr
The landlady wanted us out of the guest-house by 8:30, so we had an early start. In the morning, we climbed to somewhere above the Herault river, and then we wooshed right down to it! We had lunch in St. Guilhem-le-Desert, "one of the prettiest villages in France," and it really is very scenic. We spent most of the afternoon Descent toward the Herault. cycling through the Languedoc/Rousillon vineyards.
Today was dry, and mostly sunny. In the Languedoc, there was also a ridiculously hard, howling, stormy wind, that we sometimes had Street in St. Guilhem-le-Desert. to battle into. However, we absolutely flew the last 20 km or so to Pezenas, when we had the wind from behind. We were leaning back casually, on our saddles, and going 35 km/hr without any effort! That was wonderful!
We're at the campground in Pezenas now, and getting ready to go out for dinner. We had actually planned on cooking this evening, and spending a quiet evening next to our tent, but we can't even get our stove lit in this wind.

Top of page
Day 24 - Wednesday 21 may 2003
Destination: Colombiers (France)
Distance: 59 km
Total dist: 1672 km
Ave speed: 16.2 km/hr
Max speed: 36.5 km/hr
The Mediterranean! It was a rough night. Yesterday's wind kept up all night, and it felt as if we were attached to Eiger's North Face by a few anchors only. In the middle of the night, two of our tent's pegs were yanked out of the ground, and the entire tent collapsed. It took us a while, floundering about in the dark, with the tent cloth in our faces, to find the door and get out. We felt in the dirt near the tent and found a rock (we couldn't find the flashlight), and then somehow managed to beat the pegs back into the ground.
We had the same wind in our backs all morning, and sped toward the coast. And so, we stood on the beach of the Mediterranean, at Vias Een schip op de Canal du Midi gaat
	over de Rivier de Orb heen (Beziers). Plage, around noon, with 1640 km on our odometers! Quite an achievement! It was too cold to relax on the beach, but we had a cup of tea at a beach bar, to warm us, as advertisement billboards and candy dispensers were blown over all around us. It was pretty funny, actually!
Next was a fabulous bit of cycling, westward along the Canal du Midi. In Beziers, we watched pleasure boats going through a series of nine (?) sluices, and we saw the canal crossing over the river Orb. It was a lot of fun to watch.
In the evening, we stopped at a campground in Colombiers. It was almost deserted, and we found a nice spot out of the wind, behind a bush. It was also a lot warmer than it had been recently, and we cooked, and had a great evening lying in the grass next to our tent!

Top of page
|travelogue part 1| |part 2| |part 4|

|conclusion| |our route| |gear| |introduction| |Nederlands| |Judith home|