Serres, the Buech valley, and the Gorge de la Meouge
Serre is a medieval town on the river Buech, about 30 miles SW of Gap. Thought we'd try and head for some better weather, with thunderstorms and heavy rain forecast. Located in the Provencale part of the Hautes-Alpes, there aren't any big passes of note, but loads of smaller passes, making for a different and still quite challenging cycling area.
Found a site up a forest track high above Serre. We spent some time positioning the van in the shade. We needn't have bothered! The following day we set off early intending a long day, with a lot of miles but much less climbing than usual. The morning was fine as we cycled at speed along a quiet road, all the way south to Orpierre, on to Laborel and then a lovely steady climb up to the Col de Perty, with gorgeous views of the Montagne de Chabre, 1312m. Left at St Auban sur l'Ouveze , left to Mevouillon, and then an enforced longer lunch break than normal, as it poured with rain. We shot into an unassuming local bar, the only one in Sederon, and ordered a coffee. As it continued to pour, I asked what the plat de jour was: veal, duck and filet mignon. We opted for the third choice, which came after a small salad with home-made goats cheese quiche. The filet looked like veal and tasted like lamb, and was delicious with a gently spiced couscous and deliciously flavoured spinach. Could have had a pudding of tarte au citron and choice of wine, but we were only half way round and opted for no pud and no wine, or we'd never get going again! Whilst we were there, more soggy cyclists dripped into the bar, no doubt having seen our bikes parked outside. 12euros each for a great lunch, which left us feeling satisfied but not uncomfortable and all good protein and carbs. Meanwhile it had stopped raining but the roads were absolutely soaked, so wet feet, wet bum, soaked within a few minutes. From Sederon, our furthest point south, in the Drome region, which we love, we cycled almost due East towards the Gorges de la Meouge. A lovely cycle down, but will have to try it the other way another time, because some of the best views of the rocks towering above the Gorges were behind us.
A quick coffee in Laragne-Monteglin, and then north through Lazer, Ventavon, with sky darkening all the time. Over the Col de Faye, 943m, with lightning flashing close by and thunder rumbling! Too frightened and soaked to enjoy what was clearly a stunning route. The rain was heavy and relentless. On to Savournon, on a pretty rural road and then the main road back to Serres, with lights on front and back, water running down our legs, arms and faces. Absolutely freezing and desperate to get back to the van and out of the lightning! Last mile steeply climbed up through the forest back to the van. Don't think I've ever got up quicker! Heater on, kettle on (blowing the sensitive electric connection!), wet clothes off and stacks of wet clothes and shoes hanging around the van, like a Chinese laundry! Still a good day's cycling, but wondering what happened to the heat of less than a week ago! 87miles and 5600' climbing, averaged 13.4 mph.