posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004


I left Taradeau direction Lorgues. The highlight of the day will be the Cistercian Abbey of Thoronet reached after 25 km. My lack of research made me think that it was still an active monastery and at the entrance I asked reassurance as to the appropriateness of my cycling clothes! The ticket office lady looked at me as if I was coming straight from Mars and confirmed that in a 1000 years those ancient Abbey's brick must have seen much worse! Despite having been left by the last monks in 1760 it retains the peace and contemplative mood it must have had then. A truly inspiring place, where Cistercian architecture can be admired in all its simplicity and beauty. Also being empty means that you are free to visit all the section of the monastery at your own pace. I continued along a secondary road along the thick 'foret de la Darbussiere' reaching Vin sur Caramy and Bras. It's been a rewarding but tough day as for all the way I had a strong headwind and I misjudged food supplies leaving me understocked for the afternoon shops closure between 12.30 and 16.00. Nutella and some stale bread proved to be life savers! Once in St Maximin the largest town met today I dived eagerly in the ailes of a supermarket and obviously overate in the town square unaware that the patient crowd filling the square was waiting for a funeral procession to the church. Next on my list and now few km away were the first sights of Mt St Victoire famously painted repeated times by Cezanne who use to walk there often from his home in Aix en Provence. I found the appropriatly named 'Camping Cezanne' in Puyloubier where tents are pitched at the foot of the mountain itself, highly recommended. From there I could also stare at a magnificient susnet with clouds burning like flames.