Day 15 Clermont l'Heuralt to near Nimes, France

D32, at Gignac, the real start of this ride

A vineyard along the flat part of D 32
See those pretty hills? We are about to climb up into them

Looking back on D 32 from near the top of the 1000 foot plus climb

This ride started out pretty badly, with the realization that Clermont l'Heuralt is really too close to Montpellier, the big city in these parts. Traffic heading east out of Clermont, the way I needed to go, is traffic heading for the expressway, E 11, into town. When I got to Saint-André-de-Sangonis, I discovered a virtual traffic jam as cars and truck tried to get to the expressway. It was as bad as the traffic in Spain! I stopped to buy a map to confirm that I needed to ride in that mess, and then rode on to Gignac, only a few miles down the road, where I was able to get away from most of it on D 32.

I had a complicated route today, and I didn't get lost even once! This is unusual for me. The map of France that I bought this morning doesn't show most of the roads I used today, but it does show enough to help me put the small roads into perspective. Fortunately, my Autoroute software seemed to accurately map the roads. I did have to stop a time or two and get the computer out to verify my routing, and, near the end of the ride, I decided to change to a simpler route, but given my (weak) memory and my compass, I managed to find my way above the Montpellier traffic mess.

Climbing on D 32

Is rewarded by riding through some neat towns - this is Puéchabon, on the way up

And this is Viols le Fort, on the top of the hill

D 32 started out as a pleasant, if surprisingly busy, small road. Then, shortly after the nice town of Aniane, it started climbing. That is when I realized that going above the Montpellier traffic was going to mean a big climb. It was a 'standard' climb for these parts, with slopes from 3% to maybe 8% for short bits. I cranked up it at 5 to 7 mph, trying to enjoy it . There weren't any other options: After having been in that bad traffic, I knew I didn't wan't to go any closer to Montpellier, and going farther away just meant going farther into the mountains and climbing more. Although it was hot, I did manage to enjoy the climb, and when, after around an hour of climbing, I reached the top of the hill and discovered that the road ran along the top, I enjoyed it even more!

It was pretty, the riding was fun, the scenery was neat, and, best of all, it was cooler up there. The roads stayed a about 400 meters - 1350 feet - for many km. I really didn't go down a lot until I went down to Les Matelles for lunch.

D 113, the road after D 32 on my route, is a shortcut over to D 986

D 986 gets us down to D 17 E3 which descends to Les Matelles

D 17 E3 get us to D 17 which has some neat rocks north of it

Here are the same rocks viewed from D1 which heads east
Note the car pulling over into the other lane to pass my bike - normal behavior here

Les Matelles, like the other medieval towns on this route, are well off the major tourist routes and, as a result, are medieval towns rather than shopping malls. I really enjoyed them. And lunch, as always in France, was excellent at a bar in Les Matelles. D 113, in addition to getting me over to D 986, has a major prehistoric village site. It would have been fun to check it out. The route I picked to get around Montpellier turned out to be a nice ride.

One of many vineyards on D 1

Some pretty horses

And a bridge leaving one of the 'argues' towns on D1

Once on D1, I was riding through the 'argues.' Buzignargues was the funny name winner, to this US ear, but they were all neat towns. Riding was pretty easy. I rode to Sommières, stopped at an Intermarche for supplies, then rode on towards Nimes on D 40. That sounds easier than it was because Sommières is on a hill and riding from there towards Nimes meant climbing over that hill. So what does another 100 meters (328 ft) of climbing matter?

D 40 has a bike lane, once it gets 10 km or so from Nimes

I rode D 40 - a good road with decent shoulders which become excellent shoulders marked as a bike lane about half way to Nimes. To avoid riding through Nimes, I rode D 14 south, over another ridge; total climbing for the day was about 2000 feet, over the Autoroute, and down to D 135, a busy road just south of Nimes with a good bike lane. I rode D 135 to my hotel which is located a few km south of Nimes at the intersection of D 135 and N 113. I stayed here last year and wanted to come back. Tomorrow I'll ride N 113 down to Arles and on to points east.
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