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France - Day 13 : Start of the return journey

We had been in Cassis for two days. That meant we had 10 days left to get back to the Netherlands. It had taken seven to get here, but the return route would be a bit longer and pass through the mountainous we had seen on our way South. Therefore, we planned to cycle for nine days and take one day off. We didn't want to take the same route over the Ventoux on our way back. Instead, we aimed to arrive at the other side, so we could climb it from a town called Sault. If possible, we also didn't want to cycle through Marseille again.


We took a wrong turn directly after leaving Casis, as I had yet to plan that part of the route in detail. We had already climbed a lot and the road would keep going uphill for most of the day. Because I had walked on flip-flops for two days, my muscles hurt and my calves were tired. The weather was still good though, except for the strong headwind.


We had to pass several two-lane roundabouts before we could cycle on easier roads. After forty kilometers, we decided to visit a construction market to yet again search for fuel for our camping stove. By now, this had turned into an excuse to take a break. The store was called a Bricomarche, there were also supermarkets, named Intermarche, and ecological supermarkets, called Ecomarche. We visited a lot of Intermaches during this trip.


The Intermarche.

We again only had a little water left. We drank and ate so much that it was nearly impossible to carry enough for more than a few hours. Before we reached the same roads we had taken on our way South, we noticed a few mountains we would rather not climb.


Large mountains in the distance

We passed the shed where we had bought drinks and apples, with the grumpy lady. It was probably best not to enter again. Then we went through the evergreen forests and got water from the same pump as before. There were other cyclists drinking it, so it probably was safe. Cycling was hard today, but we kept struggling. 

In a small village, we decided to drain the last bits of fuel from the hoses at a gas station, as we probably wouldn't be allowed to fill our stove by actually pumping gas. Just when we started, someone emerged from a nearby building and we quickly left. After the village came another long climb. It wasn't steep in the beginning but got worse later on. We had descended this mountain a few days before, so we knew what was in store for us.

Col du Pointu
Col du Pointu

We climbed the Col du Pointu again

The road to Saul seemed to go up endlessly. My bike started making a noise, which I thought was coming from somewhere near my pedals. We took a break along the side of the road to check it out, it was already getting late. I couldn't find what was wrong with my bike. The following day the noise was gone. Likely I was so tired that I was leaning on my shifters. Finally, Saul came in sight. It was one long descent to the campsite. We also saw the Ventoux, with its summit covered in clouds.


It probably wasn't pleasant to be on the Ventoux then.


In Saul, we found a sign directing us toward a campsite just outside of town. We passed a closed fuel station with four hoses of euro 95 and 98 fuel. We engineered a funnel from an empty water bottle and squeezed the last bits of fuel from the hoses by lifting them. It was about a bottle cap per hose. When quickly left when cars arrived. It was completely dark by the time we reached the campsite. The desk was also closed. We showered and went to bed.


Near Gardanne were large roundabouts, afterwards we took the same route as a few days ago, until reaching Apt.

Daily distance 157,16 km

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