9 July – Chateau Chavagnac
Welcome again to our new website and to this blog. It has been some time since my introductory post, during which we have finally got the new site up and running (delayed by the domain name transfer to the new web host which took forever).
Diana and I are very happy to share this site with you. It is based on a template set up by Matthew Gorner, which I then tailored and populated. Please note we now have a direct booking facility, so you can see when we have rooms or gites available – just go to check availability. Any problems and you can still call us.
A lot has happened these last few months, most notably the British EU referendum (which has made us rather glum, and about which I will be writing in the near future) but also some good things.
Cycling has been a big theme. First, we had stage three of the Criterium de Dauphine pass by Château Chavagnac on 8th June. It was won by Italian Fabio Arun with an audacious breakaway, careering down the D532 to the grand pont and the finish in Tournon. See my pictures of him coming round the corner, shortly followed by the peleton featuring Chris Froome, unmistakeable with his unique elbows out posture. A few brief aerial shots of Château Chavagnac appeared on Eurosport before the whole circus disappeared down the hill.
Next we had the annual Ardechoise cycle race (15th – 18th June), which is France’s largest amateur cycle event attracting in excess of 10,000 participants every year and starts in Saint Felicien, some 17 kms from here. As you can imagine our chambres d’hotes is full with cyclists every night, needing pasta rich suppers and breakfast at 6am, so it was a busy time for Diana. I must say that Ardechoise cyclists are always positive, friendly and full of good humour so it’s a great pleasure when they come to stay. Special mention to Phillip who came from England for a sponsored ride of the longest option on the last Saturday involving more than 200 kms. As you may have noticed watching Euro 2016 France has some pretty bizzare weather in June and Ardèche was no exception on that Saturday with thunder storms, hail and rail that stopped the race at times and made descents very treacherous. Anyway, Philip (see picture) braved all this and arrived back with us well after dark to the relief of us all. It would be good to hear news of your fund raising, Phillip. You can cycle the Ardechoise routes any time of year, they have a very good site here with various routes to suit different levels of ambition.
Whilst on the subject of ambition, I also want to acknowledge two intrepid Belgium guests, father and son, who dropped by on 10th June, on their way cycling between Belgium and Provence on quite an ambitious schedule. They set off from us on the 11th along country roads towards Lamastre, before joining a challenging stretch that featured in the Tdf a couple of years back. Hope you see this blog, it would be great to hear whether you arrived in Provence OK!
Finally, on the cycling theme, at the time of writing we are well into the Tour de France, which after stage 8 is proving to be a Tour de Triumph for British riders. Although I am not a cyclist (I am a hill walker, so I have some empathy for the suffering!), I have been closely following the TdF since 2009, initially inspired by Mark Cavendish, then Bradley Wiggins, then Chris Froome and others. Five of the last seven years I have watched a stage of the tour pass relatively nearby hear (see pictures below) and this year I will watching stage 14 on 16th July and plan to head one of two cat 4 climbs around the middle of the stage (near Hauterives).
Please get in touch if you would like advice on best use of the back roads (with help of google maps) to get there without getting caught up in the caravan and road blocks.
Today is a big sporting day: Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final, Chris Froome now in the yellow jersey, Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone, France in the final of Euro 2016. After the debacle of the English football team (and the shame of some of its supporters), I’m hoping for something to cheer today. Come on Andy! Go Froome! Show them Lewis! Allez les Bleus!