France - Day 10 : The end of the journey south

We left early to cycle the last part of our journey south, from the Ventoux to Marseille. Fortunately Stefan had a book describing all campsites in France. Yesterday we already decided to cycle straight through Marseille and then find a campsite 20 km further south, in Cassis. It seemed very pretty there and looked like Croatia according to Stefan. On the map I had already seen a big mountain between Bedoin and the Mediterranean sea. When we got there we saw two people cycling with a Bob, a kind of trailer for bikes. During the climb a few people passed on racing bikes. We didn't know how high the mountains was. Eventually it took over an hour to get to the top. It was fun to add another col to our list.

col de murs

Col de Murs was not an easy one

col de murs

At the top were a bunch of Swedish or Danish people, all with bikes of uncommon brands.

We passed the town Apt after which another climb started. Halfway up we ate in the shade and drank most of our water. We would reach the next village after noon, when all stores were closed, so we wouldn't have water until one or two o'clock. After our break we quickly reached the end of the climb.

col du pointu

Col du pointu, the second col of the day

col du pointu

Descends make your hair stand up, as you can see here 

The route we followed during the rest of the day was very nice. We cycled through forests with yellowish rocks and pine trees scattered everywhere, exactly like you would expect in the Mediterranean. It was very sunny, but not super warm. Along the way we fortunately found a tap to fill our water bottles.

Just after Cadernet was another fruit stand. We had yet again drank all our water and were very thirsty. In the shed was a soda machine from which Bam got a can of apple juice. I also wanted something so threw in a euro. The machine didn't register the money I had put in. Then I threw in more but it came out right away. The lady behind the counter saw, but didn't do anything. When some French people came in she ran up the help them. Me and Bram stayed in front of the machine to make our case. Eventually she came to help. I explained what had happened but she didn't believe us. Then she threw in a euro and it also didn't come out. Instead of giving us a drink or our money back she just went back behind the counter. We bought two apples which were 1.46, so I asked if she could deduct the euro I lost. After the lady told us ten times they were 1.46 and I had told her that I would only pay 0.46 she finally gave in and opened the soda machine and gave me my drink. I didn't really care about the euro, I just was extremely thirsty. Then we went on our way again and ate the apples. 

Marseille wasn't far and we were on schedule to arrive in the evening. Just before Marseille we reached a roundabout packed with cars, it had 5 exits and two lanes. There were at least 3 supermarkets and a lot of other stores around it. Bram entered to try to find some more food for dinner. Meanwhile I had another look at our route. Bram gave me his pocket knife because there was a lot of security outside. Bram's inability to speak French wouldn't have helped if he would have had to explain why he carried it into a supermarket. The store was so big it was impossible to quickly buy something, but eventually we succeeded.

The rest of the way to Marseille went over two lane roads filled with cars, exits and roundabouts. We entered Marseille via the city Septemes. Then finally we saw the official sign.

The border of marseille

The sign indicating the border of Marseille

Cycling to Marseille

It was still light out when we arrived

After being happy for reaching Marseille we had to pay attention. Everywhere were cars as well as many traffic signs and potholes. We were able to follow the route we had planned for a while, until we got lost. The easiest option would be to follow the main car road leading through Marseille, so that's what we did. Suddenly we got onto a six lane road. After a traffic sign it split into 3 lanes, one was the highway, the middle one went to where we needed to go, and the last went in the wrong direction. We could only pick the one going straight because of a wall and the huge amount of traffic. The road was going in the right direction but suddenly went up with concrete walls on each side. There were three signs, maximum speed 30 km/h, forbidden for trucks, and no cyclists allowed. We didn't know what to do, there was no place to turn around or even stop. Because of the noise we also couldn't talk to each other. We just kept going not knowing where we would end up. Fortunately it wasn't a highway, cyclists were not allowed simply because cars wouldn't be able to pass. We tried to cycle the maximum speed of 30 km/h and got off at the first exit. From there we managed to get out of Marseille relatively easily. We at a brioche bread with some 'miel' and then continued to Cassis.

The road to Cassis was still a bit hilly, but more gradual. The people there were the only ones waving and taking pictures. I think they had never seen cyclists before.

sunset over marseille

On top of the first hill we had a nice view over Marseille


Closer to Cassis we saw the cliffs there.


The Tour de France had come through here this year

In Cassis we quickly found the campsite, but it was full. We continued to the centrum, which involved a very steep descend. There we searched for other campsites, but there were none. To get out of the village took a lot of effort, because the road went up by 15%. We returned to the campsite to ask if they really couldn't find a spot. We hadn't even gotten off our bikes before someone asked if we wanted to camp there, so there was still space after all.


We were assigned a spot that already had two tents on it. In one of them was a guy that seemed to be a hiker. The campsite owner told us the people belonging to the other tent had left without paying. I asked if we could take their tent down, so we actually had room for ours. 'Yes, just throw it in the corner', the guy said, 'but it will be hard to take down'. We indeed struggled. The soil was filled with rocks. The pegs we were trying to take out were completely coiled around stones. The tent was also pitched badly, with ropes tied to twigs and way too few pegs. We considered just cutting the tent apart to make it easier, but decided against it. We found a jeu de boules set, a hamer, two bags and four bottles of water underneath the tent. That was strange to just leave behind. I was happy with the pegs and hammer because the ones belonging to my tent wouldn't be nearly strong enough to get into the ground.

Before we went to sleep we sat on the campings' terrace. We ordered two Chimay beers. I said 'they will probably be expensive, like 4 euros a piece'. I was exactly right, they were tasty though.


There were two big cols in today's route, but they were easy compared to crossing Marseille.

Daily distance 162.57 km