The Mistral Abates

The mistral can blow for days on end. Happily that which put us off cycling up to the Carrières des Lumières began to abate the following morning and by afternoon had died down.

5kms south of Maussane-les-Alpilles, straight down one of the approach roads, the D27, is a well vegetated canal with accessible raised banks, also well vegetated but with a decent clear path running beside the canal. In a previous year it had proved to be a good odonata hunting spot. With the mistral gone, life was hot, hitting 30+°C which is even within my definition of hot. [I do not hold with Brits whining about a heatwave when the temperature soars to 24° or 25°C. Get a grip, that’s just a decent summer’s day.] Nonetheless, it’s a basically level ride so we thought we’d break out the bikes, get the legs turning and head down to the canal.

The last kilometre and a half is a long, flat, straight road. The end is in sight but seems to take a long time getting any closer; pedaling must be constant with no chance to freewheel. We did finally arrive, with some relief, and found somewhere to lock the bikes.

Canal habitat_125515Relief was short-lived for Francine. The canal banks are raised above the surrounding ground and exposed. Though there is vegetation, none of it is trees so there is absolutely no shade for any respite. We spent 30 minutes or so studying the local wildlife.

Eurydema ornata_125616At one point I thought I’d found a new addition to my European catalogue but, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a confusing but old friend. I’’ll resist boring non-anoraks with the details, though, ‘cos explanations would get involved and technical. Instead, here’s what really must be one of the most attractive shieldbugs there is, the aptly named Ornate Shieldbug (Eurydema ornata).

Uid Tortoise shieldbugBy complete contrast on the colourful front was this other beast, which looks like a tortoise shieldbug though which eludes me. It also eludes Google Lens which thinks it’s a clove of garlic. Never trust an app. 😀

With shadeless heat getting the better of us, we returned to the bikes and tackled the constant 5km pedal back along the road to our campsite. There is a slightly cooling breeze generated by the forward motion when cycling so it isn’t quite as hot as one might imagine but it is still hot. How the Tour de France guys do this at their effort levels for 200+ kms in similar temperatures is completely astonishing but then, they are completely astonishing athletes anyway. Just to knock the final nails in our coffins, there was a very slight but noticeable uphill section approaching the campsite. [Sweat, gasp]

Cool water followed by a cold beer in the shade of a tree on our pitch was in order.

Posted in 2023-06 France

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