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French Roads we Love

Or

Switchbacks we Love

And One White Horse

Southern France, the part near the Mediterranean, is a great place to visit if you are a cyclist. Not only are the beaches kept there, southern France also provides an ample supply of mountains, Alps even. To a couple of California natives, France never disappoints. To all but the most cynical, California has a lot to offer: mountains, deserts, ocean and even a Mediterranean climate over much of the state. France also has some of these, um, things except maybe deserts (but it more than makes up for it with excellent desserts).

On a recent stay in Grasse, perfume capital of the world, some Tenspeed Heroes discovered that it hardly mattered what direction they went because everywhere was scenic and hilly (hilly does not do justice to some of these grades.) One of their favorite short rides was up to the village of Cabris. There were many ways to get there because, as they say, all roads lead to Cabris, but they preferred the shortest and therefore steepest one. The beginning of this short, sadistic climb was but a stone’s throw (if you have a real good arm) from our newest in an ever-lengthening list of Hero Headquarters. Boulevard D’eStramousse starts out steep, levels off a bit then eventually changes names and 21%, 23% and even 25% grades are encountered. Odd grades indeed – odd numbered grades anyway.

One Hero was shamelessly proud that he made it to Cabris, former home of Albert Camus, without walking. Then, after surviving the harrowing descent, he met up with a two other Heroes who were eager to climb D’eStramousse. Hero 1 warned them, thinking he was exaggerating while he told them horror stories of 20 plus % climbs (turned out to be true but still horrific). But they were not deterred. They even managed to make Hero 1 even more shamelessly proud by convincing him or her to climb the hill again.

Much of this beautiful road was too narrow for two cars to pass each other, even small French cars.

The switchback sections were steep but this section, the one directly above these words, was where “they” hid the 20% plus parts.

Even the weeds are pretty in France, and edible. But don’t eat the cigarette butt.

As Cabris approached the switchbacks grew slightly less scenic, but no less switchy.

In the village of Cabris, if you look carefully, you will find this character in front of someone’s home. You will also find a bakery and Espresso.