2015-07-21 Frontignan – Chabeuil

Today’s photo shows the main train station in Valence after I had got off the train from Avignon to Valence. Decided to let the train take the strain today as it was the only way I could have made it to Grenoble by Thursday in time for the Tour de France. I had already cycled 450 km in 4 days but I still had over 350 km to go and only 2 and half days left to do it. It was simply too far to cycle in the middle of a heatwave and against the Mistral wind from the north.

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Total today – 35 km. Total so far – 1455 km. I could have got a train all the way to Grenoble but decided instead to only go as far as Valence, which, unlike Grenoble, is on the mainline to Paris and yet is only about 100 km from Grenoble. The nearest train station to the campsite was in Sete but I had time to spare, so decided to go to Montpellier instead.

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Some laundry sinks at the campsite were full of maggots. Managed to get a good night’s sleep and was up early for a shower and to wash my clothes. So, you can imagine my horror when I went to wash my laundry only to find one of the sinks full of maggots. When you pay €26 for a night’s camping, you expect luxury facilities and not a sink full of maggots.

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Power is precious even on a bicycle tour. I was lucky that a young lad in a Real Madrid top loaned me a power lead from one of the mobile homes so I was able to charge up all my phones and cameras overnight. For my next Tour, I will get a 3 pin adapter similar to the one shown below, and be able to use the campervan sockets, which are at every campsite.

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Hi-De-Hi loudspeakers at the Bad Day campsite. I was glad to get away from the New Day campsite, henceforth to be known as the Bad Day campsite. The place reminded me of Hi-De-Hi that used to be on TV. They even had loudspeakers throughout the campsite just like HI-De-Hi. To be fair, the place is geared up for residents in chalets and mobile homes (92 available) and not tourists who are camping (only 8 pitches available). But I can’t understand anyone, who would pay up to €1,000 for a weeks holiday in such a dump. Out of all the campsites I visited in France, the Bad Day campsite is the only one I wouldn’t go back to. I wouldn’t even send any refugees from Syria there, it was that bad.

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Harley Davidson trikes. As I was leaving, I went past a gang of bikers with mostly Harley Davidson bikes and 2 custom trikes. The bikers looked a bit ridiculous with their leather jackets on such a hot day but their bikes were just stunning.

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Tramtracks outside of Montpellier train station. It only took an hour and a half to cycle to Montpellier train station. I was worried that there would be a lot of steps but there was none at all at the station and I was able to use a lift first to get to the ticket office and then to get to the right platform.

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Arrival and departures board at Montpellier train station. You can get the TGV from Montpellier to Valence but bikes are not allowed on the TGV. Instead, I had to get a regional train from Montpellier to Avignon and then change there for another regional train to Valence. In all, it took about 4 hours to travel  to Valence (250 km), which would have taken at least 2 days to cycle. I bought a ticket for the 12.37 train to Avignon and also for the train from there to Valence. The tickets cost €36, which is similar to what you would pay in Ireland but a lot less than the UK.

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On board the regional train from Montpelier to Avignon. The train arrived on time and was level with the platform, so I had no trouble wheeling my bike and Travoy onto the train.

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SNCF train from Avignon to Valence. At Avignon, the train to Valence was delayed for an hour, but I didn’t mind as it was still quicker than cycling there. When it eventually came, it was the older style train with steps up to the floor, so it was more awkward to get Travoy on board.

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Camping Municipal in Valence. When I got to Valence, I headed towards the municipal campsite alongside the Rhone. But when I got there, it was closed so I had to head back past the train station to the next nearest campsite, which was at Chabeuil about 10 km outside of town.

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Camping Merle in Chabeuil. I was still struggling and lacking power after the heat stroke the day before and had to stop 3 times in 10 km on the way to Chabeuil. It was as hot in Valence as on the Med, despite being much further north and was also much hillier than I was expecting. It took me over 2 hours after getting off the train before I made it to Camping Merle in Chabeuil.

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