I just realized I haven’t been posting as much since Susan got to France.
OK, time to catch up. We’re in Seguret, a tiny and magical village we discovered together a long, long time ago…
It was 1995, we were biking through Provence, headed to Vaison-la-Romaine, a fairly big city known for its Roman ruins and market. It was hot, we were tired … we passed by a sign for Seguret. Never heard of it. Looked in my Let’s Go France book and it said there was a nice youth hostel with a swimming pool.
A swimming pool! This was a rare treat back in 1995.
That settled it … we’re going to Seguret.
The youth hostel turned out to be a combination youth hostel/hotel. There was a large room and a couple rows of bunk beds for the men, and a similar room for the women. And you could also get your own, private room … which we did.
And then we headed to the pool, which had a great view down and across the valley.
Dinner: Everyone gathered at a couple long tables for a wonderful meal, which included all the local, red wine you could drink. I know, all the red wine you can drink … and a swimming pool.
Needless to say, everyone drank a lot of wine, and stuck around for quite a while to drink … and talk. There was a fascinating assortment of people of all ages from all over Europe, as well as several Americans, Brits and South Africans.
We wound up staying three or four nights.
Then there’s the town of Seguret, a true medieval and walled city built into the side of one of the Dentelles mountains, with the ruins of a once-great castle way up above.
There was a café in town, and not much else. We climbed up to the café most nights with a constantly changing assortment of people from the youth hostel, and Pomme, the youth hostel dog, and our guide to and from the café.
Everyone in town knew Pomme.
We loved the place: the youth hostel and Seguret. And returned later in that same trip. And again in 2000, 2007 and right now. There’s a lot more going on in town these days, and tour buses stop by. It’s still quiet in the evening and has a medieval feel, and you can wander the narrow, stone streets in silence.
The youth hostel is long gone, and this place is now the La Bastide Bleue, and it’s a very nice hotel. The swimming pool is still here … the great courtyard is still here … and so is the town and castle up above. And the restaurant is excellent.
Seguret is still magical.
It was in Seguret, in 1995, that I first learned about Mount Ventoux. I’m not sure if we’d ever heard of it, but even if we had, we had no idea that you could climb it on your bike and that people, thousands and thousands of people, came from all over the world to do this. Or that it was considered the hardest and most grueling climb in all the Tour de France.
A rather drunk Belgian couple, whose English got better the more wine they drank, told us all about Mount Ventoux one night at dinner. Perhaps our first night in Seguret.
“It is like this,” the Belgian guy (Remy) told us, holding his arm at a ridiculously steep angle. “But there are many people climbing it on bicycles. Crazy people.”
I looked at Susan, who was looking at me, and knew exactly what I was thinking.
Yep, a day or two later, I climbed Mount Ventoux on my bike. I’ve climbed the Ventoux several times since, from each of the three base towns (Malaucene, Sault and Bedoin) and in 2010 did this extra-crazy thing where you climb it three times in one day, once from each of the base towns.
Today, we climbed up to the ruins if the castle … and tomorrow we head to Bedoin.
We’ll rent bikes, and I plan to ride to the top of the Ventoux on my birthday: October 2. Susan will meet me up top in the rental car. She’s not quite as crazy as me.
However, the weather forecast calls for lots of wind on October 2 … and if it’s pretty windy down below, it’s dangerously windy at the top of the Ventoux. I know this from experience … and that you can literally be blown over the side of the mountain by gusts that reach 80 or 100 miles per hour. It’s dangerous up there at 1,912 meters. Once, in September, it snowed on top of the Ventoux … and I got hyperthermia. And almost got blown off the side of the mountain.
So, I may have do my birthday climb a day or two early. I’m crazy, but not an idiot. Stay tuned…