70km St Gineys en Coiron – Bois des Bartres
The hardest part about our extended bicycle tour has not been so much the hills we encounter or the uncertainty of not knowing where we will spend the night. No, the hardest part has nothing to do with the physical exertion of cycling every day for four or five hours or the journey ahead, but saying goodbye to family and friends, knowing that we might not see them again for months or even years. Having been on the road for three months exactly now, those farewells had somewhat faded into our memories, so we’d forgotten how difficult they were until we left our farm in the Ardeche this morning. We really cannot say what a great time we had over the last two weeks, even if we were digging trenches for most of our days with Bert and Patricia. They truly made us feel at home from day one with many laughs, great food and so many cats and dogs to keep us amused. It is a good thing we were wearing our sunglasses as we left their house because that way they couldn’t see how sad we were to leave. But, such is the life we have chosen for the moment and the consolation prize in exchange for leaving was a fantastic view over the Ardeche mountains, into the valleys, and a good 20km downhill stretch to start the day. We skirted the outside of Aubenas and carried on down the D104 for a good while, an unexciting road and rather busy with no shoulder, but clearly a tourist mecca in the summer if the number of campsites and wine stores is anything to go by. We turned off that road at our first opportunity and headed into a more mountainous region, hoping to find a wild camping spot for the evening. We climbed to 500 meters and started to worry we might not find anything. The area was very rural but also rocky with steep cliffs – not exactly the thing for finding a flat area to pitch a tent. Around 3:30pm we spotted a trail going up into the woods and discovered a rather rocky patch of ground which was just big enough for the tent. We decided not to push our luck, knowing the next town was not so far down the road so we read a book, waited till it was nearly dark and put up the tent. We are still pretty new at stealth camping so let’s hope we’ve done it right and won’t be discovered.