After arriving in Marseilles on Saturday morning, I spent the day hanging out at my serviceable but forgettable airport hotel. The Pullman chain is part of the Accor group, and it was fine, but only that.
Sunday morning, I was picked up right on schedule by Jean Michel from the bike rental company, who had agreed to shuttle some passengers along with our rental bikes to our first destination, the Chateau St. Pierre de Serjac. In the van I met Vladimir , who was to become my roommate, and Manny and Mary Beth from Napa. Traffic is a thing along the Route du Sud in summer, and the GPS routed us along some silly little back lanes instead of regular roads a couple of times, but eventually we got here.
The property is amazing… Although a lot of the buildings are brand-new, it is all done in such a way that I really can’t tell exactly which parts are old and which or not.
We got the rental bikes sorted out and adjusted and set out on the “warm-up ride.” It was billed as 25 easy miles, just to stretch the legs, but was longer and harder than that. Although I have ridden my bike in France before, never like this, or down here in the south. Vineyards, allées of plane trees, ruined castles on the hill, check every box on the list.
After a too-leisurely dinner we retired, and not very surprisingly I found it difficult to sleep, but finally drifted off. I woke up early enough to get in a few laps in the infinity pool, because there is an infinity pool, and write this note.
Today we have one of the more structured activities on the trip, something called the Relais Etape. After breakfast, we will drive an hour and a half to a starting point, ride for an hour and a half or so, then change clothes and enjoy a “hospitality suite” set up by the side of the road just a couple of miles from the finish line of today’s stage.