Thursday, June 23rd, 2005
Good breakfast in the morning, on the road by 8:30. More "Cols" until noon.
I'm grinninglike an idiot by the time I get to Grenoble, where it promptly gets wiped off my face by stifling heat and polution. Since there is a polution warning speed on the highways is limited to 70kph (about 40 mph) which really sucks. I finally find a way up the mountains on the eastern side of the city and once I'm up over the ridge it cools down considerably.
I've now entered the "Parc du Vercors". Awesome winding roads heading through Villard de Lans, then I get onto a long canyon section where the road is cut straight out of the mountain. Big mistake on one turn here: Going into one of the unlit tunnels I can't see anything and end up straying way over into the other lane. That calms me down quick, but doesn't last long when I run into a bunch of logging trucks that needto be passed. Passing trucks on hairpins is an adventure and I'm not the only one doing it. I see a whole bunch of motorcycles on this stretch.
On the other side of the park and I get a bit lost and eventually head into Ardeche which is a pure stroke of luck. This is a beautiful stretch of mountains and high plains that goes on for what seems like forever. I'm getting pretty tired and start looking aroundfor a place to stay. I stop at an "auberge" and find out it's only a restaurant. This isn't the first time that's happened to me, I don't know why they call things "auberges" if there is no place to sleep. Eventually I see something right on my way called "L'art des choix".There is a BMW R1150R out front with a for sale sign on it so I figure I can't go wrong. The rooms are expensive but I'm tired and decide to give it a try and I'm glad I do.It turns out the owner is a professional chef who has worked in Paris, Key West and Montreal. We end up talking for a while and I have dinner which is excellent: salade ardechoise (salade, chevre, confit de canard), joue de porc confite (delicious), crique, courgettes juliennes, fromage blanc maison, crumble framboises (awesome), deca. He offers me a free home-made after dinner drink but we know where that leads... He seems a bit offended that I declined. I don't usually tip in Europe but this meal has earned my respect.