Weather still unsettled so headed slightly SW for 30 odd miles to Veynes for slightly easier climbs, slightly better weather and to explore another new area, although not far from Serres, where we were a few days ago. Site is Camping Solaire about a mile from Veynes. Beautiful facilities but not really open! Still cleaning and repairing ready for a very short season to come. Beautiful swimming pools not open till 1st July! Consequently off-peak price.
Picked up another great little map from the local tourist office showing several itinineraires partages from www.alpesvelo.net. 11 routes with varying degrees of distance and ascent. Picked the moderately difficult Boucle de Haut Buech, which sets off from Veynes and goes right past the campsite. 78 kms with 1093m of ascent. It's a delightfully fast and gentle cycle touring through farmland and quiet, little hamlets like Oze, Chabestan, Savournon at the base of Mt d'Aujour, on to Serres and Sigottier, Aspremont, la Baume, Montbrand and then along the Buech river to Veynes. Saw no other cyclists and only one car on most of the route. So quiet that I turned the bend at one time to catch a massive bird of prey, picking up and carrying away a 3' snake in its talons!
The following day, Ian planned to do a tougher climbing route into the Drome area, so I went my own way and set off on the Tour de Montagne d'Aujour, again reliably signposted every kilometre, 64kms from the campsite and 1127m ascent. From Chabestan to Le Saix on to the tiny hamlet of Chateauneuf d'Oze, over the impressive Col d'Espereaux along the side of a gorge, through Barcillonnette and then Monetier-Allemont. A spinach quiche warmed up by the Boulanger and a can of coke from the bar opposite for lunch. Just me and two elderly men chatting and drinking pastis in this quiet little town, and yet the bar-man was friendly and smiling. I've always found the French very pleasant and more than happy to chat, if you show any inkling of ability to speak French.
After lunch, along the quiet roads over the climb up the Col de Faye, covering some of the route we'd done before in a terrible thunderstorm, so it was nice to relax this time and enjoy the views! Down the beautiful valley of Savournon, Chabestan and then back to the campsite. A bit barren on the first half. The terrain is drier and rockier around here.
The following day we left for Allemont and drove through the Devoluy region. Looked very interesting with its forests, topped with impressive rocky peaks, gorges and rivers. Another area very close by worth coming back to. That's the difference this time, we've tried not to do too much driving, but still explore new areas closer by. The more we look, the more we realise how much there is to see.