Monday, August 19, 2013

A Bicycle Tour in the Lot Valley of France - Part 1

I've been so busy with mystery author guests, news about my own books, and reporting on my summer activities in Summit County here on my blog that I haven't had a chance to share photos from my wonderful May bicycling tour in the Lot Valley of France. There's no guest this week, so here goes!

My husband and I flew into Toulouse, France, and we spent a couple of nights there so we could spend a day touring the city before the bike tour. The next day we were picked up by Paul, our van support person, at our hotel and driven about two hours to where we would stay in the Lot Valley, at the Domaine Du Haut Baran. It is the most gorgeous B and B/guest lodge/small inn we have ever stayed in by far! The grounds are lush and beautifully landscaped, as shown in the two photos below.

Our room was very comfortable (see first photo below) and stocked full of extras like thick robes for wearing to and from the outdoor pool and whirlpool. Along with bike tours like ours, William and Rosalie, the owners of the Haut Baran, host horseback riding, hiking, wine tasting, and cooking tours and artists workshops, among other activities. The second photo below shows the view out of our balcony. Sigh!

After trying on our Haut Baran bike jerseys and jackets for size, we walked around the neighborhood the first afternoon and spotted the gypsy cavern collection in one neighbor's yard and the menagerie of table animals (chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits) in another's. Then after aperitifs and appetizers on the patio, we were treated to a gourmet dinner prepared by a local chef (who cooks dinners for groups the nights they eat in) with wines selected by William to match. Then, cognac in the drawing room and a short stumble back to our room. The first photo below shows me at the dining table the next morning for breakfast (with Paul) and part of the attached living room.

On our second day at the Haut Baran, our first full day of biking, we rode south from the inn,  crossed the Lot River at Vire-sur-Lot then rode on a country lane through vineyards to the town of Puy L’Eveque, shown behind us in the photo below. I'm sandwiched between our biking guide, Joe, and my husband, Neil.

After a rest stop in Grezel, we biked up a small hill into Albas for photos at the overlook, where Neil really got into the wine tasting spirit! 

Then we crossed the Lot River again below Albas (I'm on the bridge in the photo below) and stopped for lunch in Castelfranc, a 13th century Bastide town. After lunch, we  cycled to the Trigudina winery for a tasting of Cahors (Malbec) wine, a sparkling Rosé and a local white (50-50 Viognier/Chardonnay). The winery is shown in the last two photos below. Since we were a little tipsy by then and close to the Haut Baran, we opted to ride in the van back. Total distance: 32 miles.

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