We left early for our last cycling day and had breakfast in Uzès, where it was market day. Making our way through the market stalls, we left town and soon were cycling through vineyards again (a recurring theme). After Pouzilhac our climbing was rewarded with a fast downhill. In St-Victor we ate lunch salads. We crossed the Rhône river and were back where we started last Sunday, in Orange. We loaded the car and headed back home (~10h drive), feeling tired but content osm.org/?mlat=44.06076&mlon=4.

Following our host's advice, we left Nîmes via the hills to the north. The road crossed an active military camp so traffic was fairly slow. Cycling with gunfire in the background feels a bit eerie though. We crossed the gardon River via le pont St-Nicolas and cycled through flatlands to Pont du Gard; an imposing aquaduct built by the Romans and now a world heritage site. The perfect spot for a memorable photo 😊. In the evening we camped for the last time at Mas de Rey osm.org/?mlat=43.99702&mlon=4.

We stayed two nights at La Maison Rousseau a charming chambre d'hôtes. It is filled with paraphernalia collected by the host, Matthieu. Its charm doesn't translate well to the photos but there are eclectic trinkets everywhere you look. It was also surprising quiet, for being so close to the ringway of Nîmes osm.org/?mlat=43.84095&mlon=4.

Rest day in Nîmes! There's so many things to do in the city, that there wasn't really time to rest. In the morning we learned about gladiators in the arena, turns out that gladiators typically weren't slaves fighting against their will. In the afternoon we went to the jardin de la fontaine, visiting le tour magne with its high viewpoint over the city. After stuffing ourselves with food sharing in le Chabanais we were both in dire need of some well deserved sleep 😴 osm.org/?mlat=43.83489&mlon=4.

After yesterday's long ride, the fourth etappe to Nîmes is a short one. After a big breakfast and a 10h30 start we leave Aigues-Mortes and follow the Sète channel for an hour and a half. At Franquevaux we head north and start a shallow climb through vineyards. With the winds in our back, it feels like we're melting cycling up hill 🥵. At Générac we stop for a lunch salad in a small cafe. After another 15k we arrive in Nîmes, where we planned a rest day for tomorrow osm.org/?mlat=43.72790&mlon=4.

After the longest cycle of our tour, we arrived at Aigues-Mortes. Aigues-Mortes is known for its medival city walls, which are well preserved. South of town lie many marshes where salt is still 'mined'. Earlier in the day we passed some fields in the camargue where (sweet) water from the Rhône is used for cultivating rice. We enjoyed a delicious three course menu at L'Oustau Camarguais, which serves a proper vegetarian menu: an oddity on our trip so far 🍴😍! osm.org/?mlat=43.56636&mlon=4.

The third day of our bicycle tour took us through the Camargue, the natural region at the estuary of the Rhône. Its many bodies of water house all kinds of animals, including flamingos! Our favorite was flying flamingos, when the red of their wings is more visible than on the ground. We picnicked in the shade of a lighthouse. Due to mosquitoes, we decided not to camp at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. After another 30k, we arrived at Aigues-Mortes totalling 87km today osm.org/?mlat=43.45482&mlon=4.

By the time we arrived in Arles all tourist sights were closed to visitors, so we cycled around the arena and the Roman theater. As the groceries are open until 21h here, we stocked up for tomorrow's long ride. After the resupply we looked for a place to eat and settled on a pizza place on Paul Doumer square. With full bellies, we headed back to the camp site for a well deserved rest osm.org/?mlat=43.67692&mlon=4.

The route out of Avignon was too busy for our liking. Fortunately traffic quieted down after Eyragues. In Saint Remy de Provence we enjoyed a coffee before starting the climb in the Alpilles. It was hot and we were happy to reach the top. Les baux de Provence surprised us with its castle ruins and cave light show. After a quick bite in Maussane, we continued along a beautiful stretch to Arles. We pitched the tent at the camping city camp site and headed into town

Arriving in Avignon in the early afternoon, we had time to visit le Palais des Papes. The seat of government of the Roman catholic church briefly moved to Avignon to settle a dispute with the French king in the 14th century. Seven popes contributed to what has become a somewhat chaotic but interesting castle. We finished the day with a three course meal in one of Avignon's many restaurants osm.org/?mlat=43.95075&mlon=4.

La première étape de notre boucle Provençal commence à Orange. The day prior we visited the city and the Roman theater, with its unique theater wall. South of Orange we cycled through the vineyards around Châteauneuf-du-pape, with Mont Ventoux looming in the distance. Every kilometer you pass another Château du vin here. The route into Avignon was quiet and surprisingly green along an old aquaduct. We pitched our tent at le camping du pont and set off to explore the city osm.org/?mlat=44.13587&mlon=4.

The predominantly descending route offers the occasional short puncher-like climb where we get off and push the bike. But we can see the Bodensee and charge on! Descending into the large valley, we pass many fruit orchards: these are fertile land indeed. While Romanshorn isn't the most scenic destination, we feel ecstatic to arrive nevertheless. I'm grateful to share such a wonderful experience between us two. We celebrate with a drink next to the water. Proost! osm.org/?mlat=47.57060&mlon=9.

Last day in the saddle, today we ride to the Bodensee! In the morning we follow a smaller river upstream with a very shallow climb: 200 meters of elevation in 20km. Unknowingly we arrive at the highest point of our trip at 606 MSL. After that the route primarily descends as we get closer to the Bodensee. We pass many farms and more life stock, this area is also less populated than the days before. We stop in Wil for an Apfelschorle. Only 35km to Romanshorn from here! osm.org/?mlat=47.45872&mlon=9.

In Winterthurn we were both starving and ate like kings, I had a traditional Käsespatze which are egg noodles with (loads of) grated cheese. Florianne ate meat loaf with red cabbage and purée. I enjoyed the homemade apricot knödel (dumplings) as dessert. I'm also a big fan of the alcoholfrei biers here, a nice way to enjoy a beer without dehydration. In many ways Deutschschweiz reminds me of Germany, I'm sure there are subtle differences I fail to grasp however. osm.org/?mlat=47.49888&mlon=8.

Today we rode our longest leg of the trip: a six hours cycle under the warm Swiss 🌞. 30km after Aarau we said our goodbyes to the river and headed East towards Zurich. After the flat roads of yesterday, today's short, steep climbs reminded us we're still in 🇨🇭. We refueled in Baden on Berlin boules and lunched near Adilkon. Being close to Zurich airport (LSZH), I spent the afternoon spotting planes. Lots of private jets hereabouts. Before long we arrived in Winterthurn osm.org/?mlat=47.44510&mlon=8.

After our last night of camping, tuesday's route led us from Winterthur to the old city of Aarau. We passed many hydroelectric plants along the Aare river. Switzerland gets up to 2/3rds of their power from water. In the evening we ate delicious Mediterian fare at Al Ahram. osm.org/?mlat=47.249400&mlon=7

What a perfect way to spend my gebürtstag, cycling with @florianne in beautiful 🇨🇭. Today we left the lakes behind and started following the Aare river. In Büren we passed by an old wooden bridge (Holzbrücke) built in 1821. In the evening we visited Solothurn, with Thai for dinner. The clock faces in Switzerland are always beautifully decorated. We spent the night on the camp site next to the Aare. osm.org/?mlat=47.141300&mlon=7

Our second day took us along Lake Neuchatel, with its many plâges and camp sites. Our first stop is the beautiful mideval town of Estavayer-le-Lac, where I have the misfortune of ordering two meat pies at the bakery 🤢. We have lunch near a little beach in Cudrefin, which is packed with locals doing the same. Many people are also enjoying the Indian summer on the expansive Swiss sporting infrastructure. We spent the night at a camp site where La Thène flows into the lake osm.org/?mlat=47.0010&mlon=7.0

Perfect weather on day 1 for our 56km leg from Lausanne to the camp site in Yverdon-Les-Bains. The route mostly follows train tracks. When the route leaves the tracks, we are greeted by short but steep hill climbs. The climb to Gollion is particularly gruelling for Florianne. We stop for a picknick in La Sarraz. I am surprised by the amount of water fountains, public toilets and grocery stores we pass. Touring the Swiss country side promises to be relaxed osm.org/?mlat=46.676200&mlon=6

Start of our Mittellandroute cycle tour from Lake Geneva, Lausanne to Bodensee, Romanshorn. The harbor reminds Florianne of her childhood summers in Meillerie, on the French side. I am feeling relieved that the weather forecast has improved significantly. We're eager to get on with it 🌞🚴🚴osm.org/?mlat=46.51134&mlon=6.

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