From Marseille to Barcelona through Andorra bikes

A small report on a bike tour from France to Spain via Andorra.
It will primarily interested in those who are planning bike tours in Europe.

In early May, the two of us rode bikes around 830 km in 8 days from: Marseille - Arles - Montpellier - Bédarieux - Carcassonne - Ax-les-Thermes - Pas de la Casa - Andorra la Vella - La Seu d'Urgell - Alp - Castellar de n'Hug - Ripoll - Vic - L'Estany - Sant Cugat del Vallès - Barcelona (Bold place overnight stays) Route Route was chosen so for several reasons. Firstly, in Marseille there are direct flights from Moscow. Secondly, I wanted to travel not only across the plains, and the mountains and in a single visit in Andorra. Third, back from Barcelona to Marseille can be relatively easy to reach by several commuter trains, which we eventually did. In addition, through the Port d'Envalira Pass on the way to Andorra la Vella is the highest paved road in the Pyrenees - Of course, it was interesting, overpower or not.

On the way to the highest pass.

Before I drove my bike in airplanes, upakovyvvaya it into a normal cloth cover (Pic 99) and relying on the fact that the porters will be with him not too rough. Basically it was not a problem, except for the bent big star system on the way to Cairo and broken taillight on the way to Verona. But I recently bought a new bike (much more expensive than my last) and I realized that I am sorry to give it to baggage handlers at the mercy of virtually defenseless. So I thought about buying a solid velokeysa. The decision on solid velokeyse difficult - on the one hand, its advantages are obvious - the bike is well protected during transportation in an airplane or a train. On the other hand, there are obvious disadvantages - on arrival at the starting point of this case need to put somewhere, so much so that then it was convenient to take him out for the return trip home. Since it is, in contrast to the fabric cover, not tinker. This greatly limits the number of possible route options. In addition, the hard case - fun quite expensive, it costs 10 sput. As a result, when I finally decided to buy it, I found that in Moscow the choice of solid velokeysov very small.

Food in the air express with a case and hand luggage, rented himself off the floor.

My friend and companion on this journey flew to Marseille from London and was carrying his bike too solid case. We had previously written off to the hotel in Marseille airport, and agreed with them that we spend the night in their first and last night of our trip, and our cases kept them all this time.

Take out the bikes out of the tombs and collect.

An hour later, bikes are ready for battle, and you can carry coffins to take to the hotel.

As a result, with the transport of all came good - there were no injuries on the way there or back. Negotiate with the hotel storage case also was not difficult. Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon The first part of our route ran through Provence and then in the region with a complex called Languedoc-Roussillon. Endless vineyards, stretching to the horizon, wineries, olive groves. Rather narrow roads with curbs, but the traffic on those roads where we went, there was a small, so the ride is quite comfortable. Elevations small.

One can see the width of the curb (almost zero) and vineyards.

Almost every vineyard has a small shop where you can taste and buy wine and related products - olives, cheese, etc.

Stopped at a shop to stock up for lunch.

These stores are usually closed, but to open them, you just need to press the intercom and hozyaka come and open.

Lunch on the ancient bridge Pont du Diable. In the background you can see a modern bridge.

Somewhere in the vicinity of the bridge met this uncle:

Cyclist from South Africa.

He was on a bicycle flag of South Africa. Bike, by the way, dvuhpodves trailer! And judging by the number of things, my uncle went away for a long time. In one of the endless vine yards saw a funny picture:

Parking winemaker.

This winemaker knows a lot about cars. Citroën Deux chevaux and Niva in one yard - it's cool. We are, as usual, tried to choose is not very busy roads with beautiful views, but with a good asphalt. France we had excellent maps Michelin, where marked and road with beautiful views and viewpoints ("observation" point with krasivm view), and the angle of slope of the road (up to 5% to 10%, more than 10%). Bicycle these gadgets on the maps are very comfortable. At the entrance to the town of Bédarieux decided to turn to the small track, but with a proud name D 8E1B (yes, this is the real number of road length in a few tens of kilometers).

Rotate D 8E1B.

And do not regret it. The road is really beautiful, passes among the red rocky outcrops. And was a little rain, and appeared in the sky, two rainbows.

D 8E1B after rain.

Further our path lay through Carcassonne.

The fortress of Carcassonne.

We spent the night at the hotel and bicycles for the night is usually imported or priotelnyh garage, or any of their basement or utility room. Carcassonne at the garage itself was a work of art.

Unpack in the garage of the hotel in Carcassonne.

The next day we were driving to the foothills of the Pyrenees, and began the first serious passes. On the ascent to the pass Chioula (1431m) on the roadside somewhere already covered with snow, and with the pass for the first time opened a view of the snow-capped Pyrenees. Polgorizonta was snowfields.

Pass Chioula (1431m).

On the night we stopped in the town of Ax (full name of Ax-les-Thermes). This is a resort town with thermal springs and a large casino, which is on the road to the pass that leads to Andorra. We entered the city at dusk, and as usual, almost everything was closed, including baths with thermal springs. And even a restaurant in the hotel where we lived, already closed the kitchen, but we had to order at least to dine. However, the best way right at the entrance to our hotel was a public thermal bath in which we are located and after dinner with cards, beer and a towel from the room.

Soar feet in public thermal bath.

After 10 pm such places are quite empty, but life went on in the casino. And we just went to progolku.

Night Ax-les-Thermes with mountain river.

Pass Port d'Envalira and Andorra
The next day was scheduled for the most serious leg of the route - Pass Port d'Envalira (2408m, the highest pass on the asphalt road in the Pyrenees). Ax town where we started that morning, at about 700m - we had to dial 1700m altitude of about 40 kilometers.

Start ascent to the pass. We are now to where snowfields.

As a result, the path it took us about six hours (including halts and snacks).

Around the middle of the ascent to the pass. In the background you can see the beginning of the climb.

On the rise greeted very unusual cyclist - a unicycle.

Unicycle traveler.

I have never before such vvidel. Brakes on these bikes there, and there is quite a steep slope - he has greatly hinder legs (to restrain twisting wheel pedals), and it is clear that it is very difficult. In addition, the speed is very small. But he looked the same as if he were going to drive up to the Aqsa Mosque. Talk to him did not work, but maybe it was some nibdu record or dispute or something like that. Almost the pass (4-5 km) is the town of Pas de la Casa, in which there is a pointer to the border and Andorra in which all come for shopping (Andorra no European VAT, and it's pretty cheap).

The border with Andorra in Pas de la Casa. in the background is seen the pass itself.

In this town we had lunch. Pizzeria suddenly found Russian menu, and offered us his own waiter saw the flag on my bike. First page menu delivered:

Menu in a pizzeria in Andorra. "The management and staff" wished us bon appetit.

From Pas de la Casa last few kilometers to the pass are very convenient labels for cyclists. They indicate the current height, current incline up to tenths of a percent, the remainder of the climb to the pass and the rest of the way to the pass. Most of these labels anywhere on the route we have not met.

Signs for cyclists.

On the roadsides, as seen in the previous picture, quite a deep layer of snow. The temperature on the pass was two (there was a booth with a thermometer), but to go in shorts and a windbreaker quite comfortable, because the legs are active. And finally, we are at the pass. Behind him opened view of the opposite valley, but the clouds, little was seen.

Pass Port d'Envalira.

On the pass worked only gas station, all the cafes and restaurants were closed, all this only works during the ski season. Before the descent, we decided to insulate. On slopes always cold - and because the body is almost not moving, so that the speed of the wind is blowing strongly. The first and last time for the trip dressed veloshtany long.

By descent ready.

The descent from the high mountain passes - is generally a separate issue and a separate skill. On the one hand it is possible to go very fast (40-50 km / h), but on the other - you need to do it very carefully, because usually such roads are very twisty. Therefore, it is impossible to relax - foot rest, but to steer and brake must be very active and focused. From this pass we went down in total for the whole day (the evening of this day to the capital of Andorra and the entire first half of the next day).

The descent from the pass.

Andorra was very civilized and rich country (I could imagine the shepherds with sheep in the mountains). At least, Andorra la Vella is very similar to Geneva or Lausanne, but not the village with the shepherds.

Composition at the entrance to Andorra la Vella.

Andorra all really cheap. For the hotel, we paid 45 euros for two with breakfast. Usually we paid an average of 60-70 euros for two.

Government Building in Andorra la Vella.

Still there are several ancient churches in very good condition.

Church of Santa Coloma (founded in the 9th century).

Having entered Catalonia in Spain, we decided to go to Barcelona is not straight, but still stay in the Pyrenees and take to the east of La Seu d'Urgell.

The road from La Seu d'Urgell.

Spent the night in the town of Alpine. In this area, a lot of ski slopes, which in the summer, of course, closed. And these towns and villages in the coming summer season is almost empty - Alpe entire neighborhoods are shuttered and locked doors - a house that pass the winter skiers.

View of the town of the Alps.

From this town there is a road to the pass Creueta. In two places on it (at a distance of about 15 km from each other) are here such signs marking the cycling route.

The road from the Alps.

Tablets are absolutely useless - there is not a bias of 2%, even if we take the average over the 17 km, and is much steeper. According to our instruments there was 6-8%. On the second plate is already in the pass was written by 4%, while in our unit there were no less than 8%. Pass Creueta very beautiful. Bald mountain there, like the lunar landscape. Road completely empty (1-2 cars per hour) - a not-there is no one season does not go anywhere.

Подъезжаем к перевалу Creueta.

View our ascent to the pass.

Bald pass.

Start descent.

On the way down we stopped for lunch in a small town Castellar de n'Hug, who is also a non-season completely empty and very beautiful.

The main square of the town of Castellar de n'Hug

farther from the city Ripoll we took to the south of Barcelona.

Modern in Ripoll

At the entrance to the town of Vis, where we spent the night, had already begun plain - left the Pyrenees. Then had a rather complicated event - enter Barcelona its course so as to best avoid major highways, industrial areas, Ikeya, Auchan and other things that are very oppresses at the entrance to the big city and what we have suffered at the entrance to Vis. We decided to drive through the town of Sant Cugat del Vallès, one looking for it monastery and then on a small track in Barcelona to enter through a small pass from Tibadabo. Everything turned out perfectly - this road is really no industrial zones and large stores, however, is very narrow and quite busy traffic, including cycling. And the temple Tibadabo this road is not visible, even though he's very close.

View of Barcelona from the pass.

This track is so small that it did not even have signs "Barcelona" - she immediately goes into some city street. So do not get your picture taken with the coveted pointer to which we went 8 days and 830km. Back to Barcelona we got three commuter trains. First, from Barcelona to Portbou (in this town we spent the night and swim). Then from Serber to Avignon (up Serber reached its course, there is very close). And then from Avignon to Marseille airport, where we were waiting at the hotel our cases.

We go to the train from Avignon to Marseille Airport.