72km Millau – Estelle
Our day began with a trip to the local cafe – now a ritual for us whenever we stay in a hotel and quite often when we are wild camping. A good cup of coffee is the right way to start a big day of cycling, and the cafe is also a great place to mingle with the locals. Besides, we are learning quickly that no matter if you find a budget hotel in France or an expensive one, they always seem to want a small fortune for breakfast! We can eat much more cheaply by buying food from the supermarket and then stopping for a fresh coffee early in the day. The little cafe we stopped at this morning was on the edge of a roundabout just on the outskirts of Millau’s centre. We ordered: “Un cafe au lait et un petit cafe, s’il vous plait.” The usual then, a milky coffee for Friedel and an espresso for Andrew. We splurged as well and ordered tartine for two, a baguette with jam, honey and butter. Not the healthiest of breakfasts but we had forgotten to stop at a grocery store the night before. Around us, the three or four other customers were all reading the regional newspaper, Midi-Pays, and a dog on the floor, just beside our table, eyed our baguette, watching intently for any crumbs that might fall his way. Breakfast overwith, we carried on to the now famous Millau Viaduct – a bridge that looks like seven needles soaring into the sky. The best view of it is of course from high up, so we wound our way slowly up a twisty mountain road – marked as a dangerous route and forbidden for camper vans and trucks. Five kilometers later we came to a lookout point about 800 meters above the sea. After admiring the view we carried along the plateau, before turning to the east and further inland. Rolling hills were the theme of the afternoon, not as bad on the legs as they first appear as we can usually get up enough speed on the downhill stretches to carry us up the climbs! Around 3pm we rolled into the tiny village of Estelle where some fellow cyclists, Ingrid and Yves from the Warm Showers list, kindly welcomed us. We enjoyed great food, wine and company until nearly midnight, when our eyes felt like they might snap shut if we didn’t go to bed. We aren’t used to such late nights, especially when camping!