Cycling tour to the mountain finish of the Vuelta 2010 (Tour of Spain) from Lake Geneva via Alps, Pyrenees to Andorra, returning across the Massif Central from August 28th, to September 22nd, 2010. about 3100 km long

XIV.-XXV. day from  Andorra across the Pyrenees to Lake Geneva

I. day
Thonon les Baines
In the darkness of dawn, I began my journey with mixed feelings and well-filled panniers.
It soon strated to rain. Despite of the rain I could keep my schedule and reached a camp site in the evening.
Until the afternoon it stopped raining, even the sun started to shine.
Itinery: Noyer, Villard,Orcier Col des Arces *(1174m) - from this mountain pass to the Spanish border my bicycle computer has not worked.
Further settlements Habére-Poche Bogéve, Viuz en Sallaz Landstrasse Nr. 907. St. Jeoire , Pont du Giffre ,Marignier  Cluses  Col de la Colombier*  ( 1613 m ) St. Jean de Sixt.

    Le_Col_du_Feu_cycling_tour_France     Col_des_Arces_Radtour_Frankreich    Col_de_la_Colombiere   Colombiere_Radtour_in_Frankreich
                   Le Col du Feu                                  Col des Arces                                    Col de la Colombiere          View from Col de la Colombiere              

Up to  Col_de_St._Jean_de_Sixt  I have not climbed up, but I rolled down from the higher pass.
One of the countless monuments of the  Frech resistance .

Camping a la ferme  (camping at farm)

II. day
Col du la Forclaz (1150 m) Vesonne, Dousard , La Thuille Entre Vernes , Villard,St Eustache, Col de Leschaux (897 m)

      Lac_Annecy         Col_de_la_Forclaz        Lac Annecy
                            Lac Annecy                                                           Col de la Forclaz                                   Panorama frompass Forclaz auf Annecysee                                           
Straight from the village the first pass  Col de Leschaux  started in the morning.
The pass sign:  Col de Leschaux   I found on the way back from Cret de Chatillon

    Cret_de_Chatillon_Radtour_in_Frankreich           Col_de_Rousset_Radtour_in_den_Alpen           Felsen_der_Alpen
                            Crét de Chatillon                                                  Col de Rousset                                                 Panorama during descending                

>>> trip to  Crét de Chatillon *( 1699 m ), then  Glapigny , Lescherenes, Lenoyer Col de la Plainpalais (1172m), Chambery
Camping La Ravoire (near Chambery)

III. day

Col de Granier (1134 m ) Entremont la Vieux, St.Pierre de Entremont Col du Cucheron (1139 m) St Pierre de Chartreuse, Col de Porte* (1340m).
One square in Grenoble, with the old church and the statue of one soldier of Napoleons , the embankment of  Isere-river .
That was my place for lunch rest. 
The first gorge  Gorges de Boume in the Montagnes de Lans mountain.
Camping : in area of Villard de Lans

Villard de Lans, on the way to the pass  Col du Rousset under  beautiful alley of platanes. Panorama on the descending, Chamaloc, typical mountain village.
From here I came  to Chamolac
Die , the valley of Dome river, Rhone river at  Pouzin. Lavac : Camping at a farm .

V. day

first pass: Col de l Arenier, second one Col de Escrinet(781m)  itinery later on :Aubenas,  Joyeuse, Lablachére,  Villefort 

    Drome_Fluss     Passklettern_Alpen_Kaukasus_Partnersuche    Ardeche_Fluss   Massif_Central
          Valley of  Drome, place for lunch rest                       Col de l Arenier          Raftingers on the river Ardeche            Panorama in Massif Central


Cathedral  in Mende, its Facade. Streets in the downtown with one   "Duck",    "Vival" shop.
Camping near the shopping center in Mende

VI. day

I am cycling already on the  highway , after still 25 km on the motorway !. After some signs "In your interest the motorway has been video watched "  I decided to exit the motorway. Finally after  50 km long "trip" returned to Chanac, to my startig point 50 km earlier.
On the way I became hungry. In that  river valley I had a relaxed at this rest place. I could see here eight tree species.
On the way to the gorge of Tarn river on a dry Plateau. The first glance was already  overwhelming.
I descended lower and  lower during to the valley .

  Gorge_du_Tarn Gorge_du_Tarn  Gorge_du_Tarn Col_de_la_Colombiere Viadukt_von_Millau  
                 Gorge du Tarn                                  Gorge du Tarns                                                 Gorge du Tarn                                         Viadukt of Millau  

About twenty km I cycled  in the narrow gorge. Small towns : St.Chely du Tarn. Lots of roweres that means raftingers I saw in small groups.
In this castle hotel a double room costed  250 € , so I kept on staying at camp sites for 6-8 €..
Such small settlements I found in certain distances. The products will be transported by  winch to the other bank of the river.
This was the only bridge on the 29 km  distance to  Meyrueis.
Camp site on the sport ground of Saint Affrique.
VII. day

Saint Affrique in the morning.   Massif Central :mountains in the middle of France. The square of a small townnarrow lanes.
Col de Picotalen 1004 m, Lacaune,

 Mittagsrastplatzzum_Col_de_la_BaraquePont_St_Etienne_de_Cavall Col_de_la_Colombiere
       relaxing at lunch time       the way to the pass sawn from a bench             Pont St.Etienne de Cavall     XIIIth century bridge on way of st. james pilgrimage

Col_du_Cabaretou in 2010 the "Tour" rolled over.  Then  St. Pons. I climbed  the pass Col de Rodomouls, unfortunatelly I could not find any pass sign.  Col de St. Colombe.   I lost my way again. In big heat I cycled about 20 km in vain.
At least I could have my chain,sprocket and gear in a garage lubricated. I saw also Canal du Midi. Here is   a link as a sample, for I was in a  hurry, not to be able to stop. I knew that I am going to arrive late to Carcasonne. 
The fairy tale town of Carcassonne in the shine of the downgoing sun. 
Camping in Carcassonne :  Cité ca. 9-10 € .

         Carcassonne      Carcassonne      Carcassonne_am_Morgen
                 Carcassonne behind the wine gardens                                  Carvassone                                             fairy tale view of Carcassonne

VIII. day

Carcassonnes  fortified walls sawn from the grave yard.  Guest house in Carcassonne.

    Burgmauer_von_Carcassone    Strasse_in_Carcassonne     Platz_vor_Kirche_in_Carcassonne    Carcassonne_Cite 
               Carcassonne's   double walls                             Carcassonne                                             Carcassone                                         Carcassonne                   

         Innere_Burg_Carcassonne       Carcassonne       Restaurier_der_Stadt        Fuesse_der_Pirenaeen 
                     Carcassonne                       Carcassonne  statue of    Violett de Luc, he renovated the town                   at foots of the Pyrenees                 

The first gorge of the  Pyrenees  : Gorges de Pierre Lys. Named after a French pastor, who has a 300 m long tunnel cut by local people by simple pics in the XVIIIth century.
According Napoleon it is a shame, because this man could have been a brave soldier (of mine  ).

           Tanne_in_der_Schlucht      Gorge_d_      Gorge     La_route_des_Cols
            Gorge de Pierre Lys                                                                                                                     board of the roads of themountaain  passes               
Pump storage hydroelectric power plant  at the Aude river near  Axat.

Pleasant camp site in Qerigut 

IX. day

I reached Formiguerest  (1506 m ) during a medieval festival.

         Von1_Querigut_kommend        Formigueres_Festival      Adler       Formigueres_Festival 
                   Le Col du Feu                                                                                          Mitteralterliches Festival in Formigueres              
Mayor s office functioning in the same time as a tourist information centre. Beef is being roasted   Falconer. Owl.
Baker, the main Road.   Archers stand, Stilts.   Mont Louis , Bourg Madam.

     Bergkette_Pyrenaeen    Blumen_der_Pyrenaeen    Col_de_la_Perche_Passklettern    Pyrenaeen
                          Pyränen                           und ihre Blumen am Flugplatzt                           Col de la Perche                                          Pyränen                             
The mountain chane of the Pyrenees      Bourg Madam, at the Spanish border. I wanted to roll across the border jus for fun.
From this place  sthe former border crossing point looked like this . Just on the border a Spanish-Catalan bike shop was. In this shop the owner replaced my magnet of teh bicyclee computer. Even my drinking bottle was filled by ice cold water. All : free of charge !
They wished me a good journey and closed the shop Sunday after  1 p.m.

I returend to France in direction of  Andorra.. View from my resting place in the noon heat on the way to pass Puymorens .
After a quick calculation I decided in the heat not to climb on to the pass, but returning to the camp site nearby in Tour de Carol. For I has not lost any day in my itinery because of  rain. So I was able to climb some passes in the neighbourhood next day
That is why I slept two nights in the camp site in Tour de Carol

X. day

Street view in the French Pyrenees. Old church at the mountain slope.
Mountain chane of the Pyrenees. The Catalan language  (lots of people speak it in this area) and the French are not the same, particularly if you do not speak any of both. So I climbed the pass  Col de la Perche from another side the second time.
The tourist map I got in the tourist office was in Catalan , not in French....
Col_de_FauRadtour_FrankreichCol_de_la_Perche  Radtour_in_Frankreich
                   Col_de_Fau                             huge sun collectors  (biggest in the wworld)         Col de Perche            thurnderstorm approaching in the Pyrenees              
     Puigcerda   Puigcerda_Panorama_auf_Pyrenaeen_in_Spanien    Puigcerda_Siesta    Puigcerda
                                  Puigcerda                                Panorama from Mayor s office  towards the Pyrenees         Puigcerda

XI. day

Climbing Col de Puymorens (1915 m ) made me real tired, but the view compensated it.

Andorra_EinkaufzentrumCol_de_PuymorensraCol_de_Puymorens Panorama_Col_de_Puymorens_Serpentinen_Ax_les_Thermes
                          panorama from pass  Col de Puymorens and during descending                                                                road to  Ax les Thermes        

In Andorra a small town consisting only from shops awaiting the attack of the French people 

Port_d_Envalira_Andorralange_Abfahrt_von_Port_d_EnvaliraSoldeu Canillo
The first  and in the same timefor me  the highest pass in Andorra itig der höchste Pass Port d Envalira,  Descend to Soldeu,with nice,new buildings all over
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   in Andorra Canillo

Climbing the pass in headwind was exhausting, I thought I would never arrive on the top.   The last pass was  Coll d Ordino  in the evening.
After I was looking forward to relax in a camp site in Canillo, which was located at the filling station along the river Riu Valira de Orient

     auf_Coll_d_Ordino_kletternd    Auf_Coll_d_Ordinora_kletternd   Abfahrt_von_Col_d_Ordino    Vom_Coll_d_Ordino_ins_Tal 
       Camp site along the river , opposite a huge mountain      Col d Ordino                               descending from pass Coll d Ordino into the valley

XII. day

El Forn was the first mountain of the day  ( 400 m level difference). After I cycled downhill to Andorra la Vella capital of Andorra.
A religious holiday was I met the convoy of the Grand prince even twice , shops were closed.
The sign of the second pass : Coll de la Botella  I found only as I returned from Cabus. Vallnord Sector Pal was the finish of Vuelta on  1900 m .
Even one hour pior the finish of the stage there were places available 25 m before  the the finish line.
Significantly fewer fans came to see the finish of the stage as at the Tour de France.
I did not think that time, that the here got Vuelta cap will be serving me well already next morning in the cold rain.

 Col_de_la_BotellaPort_de_Cabus_2302mIgor_Anton_Hernandez_erster Mosquera
                    Col de Botella                                        Port Cabús                    winner:   Igor Anton Hernandez                         Mosquera wa second


Second was Mosquera , third  Tondo, for the  fourth rank two cyclists of  Caisse de Epargne team sprinted.
Brushegin and Uran Uran. Sixth was the later winner of the general classification Nibali.
Frank Schleck and David Moncoutie (later winner of the mountain classification) followed them.

    Nibali_Frank_Schleck_Moncoutie   Abschied_von_Andorra_im_Regen_bei_2_C    Weltkriegsdenkmal_in_Biert    Saint_Girons
  Nibali, F.Schleck,Moncoutie      Andorra taking farewell from me wwith a rainbow at  2 C, fog and rain;  World war monument in Biert      St.Girons


XIII. day

Early in the morning I strated at 5 C. On the long way uphill I was quickly warm despite of the light rain. Relatively easy I reached the top 2406 m. There was fog, rain and wind.
From there on I descened . I was freasing so much. Even a local car driver stopped to ask me whether I am OK !
I was shaking so much, my teeth ware chattering. I had to go in several shop to warm up. 
Finally I bought a second camera for  100 €.
Further downhill I stopped in the fromer customs building to dress everything on I had with me. Because I felt enourmesly cold.
I got as far as  Ax les Thermes. The brakes rubber were gone in the wet, muddy weather, I had to buy new ones.
I could find an open bike shop on the second day in St. Gironds.
In Ariege river valley I cycled in friendly weather, sometimes even at sunshine, sometimes in light rain  to Ussat le Baines.
After I left the main road and turned in direction of Col de Port ( 1249 m ).
On the pass I could not make any photo, because I was too  clumsy with my new camera. It is a pity because the view was marvellous with the peaks and the dark clouds.
In Biert I stayed in the best camp site at a farmstead Camping a la ferme
The sign post to the Camping.
I recommend this camp site every cyclist, because the owner is friendly, speaks English.
Mikrowawe oven and a gas stove were available. I stayed in 20 camp sites in France and Andorra, but non of them had these facilities.
In addition you can reach several mountain passes from here. The road to one of the passes is  winding up by the camp site.

Continues  :XIV.-XXV. days from  Andorra across the Pyreness back to Lake Geneva still in German language, but soon in English

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