Posts Tagged ‘l’Ardéchoise’

Path marking Part 2

June 18, 2016


Our next experience of marking a route was altogether a more exciting affair.

We are coming to the end of the Ardéchoise – a crazy week which has seen over 16,000 cyclists descend on St Félicien for the 25th anniversary of this legendary cycle event, the largest of its kind in Europe.  Participants can choose from a network of routes covering the whole department, to be completed in one to four days or just the big one day event on Saturday.  Every village and dot on the map pulls out all the stops to welcome the vélomanes with decorations, refreshments and entertainment.  Arlebosc is no exception.


12 IMG_1008 (2) (1024x768)On Thursday from 7am a stalwart band of villagers, fortified with coffee, waved and cheered the three day eventers on their way.  We were joined for a time by the eleven pupils from the infants school who hollered Allez! Allez! at the tops of their voices before being shepherded back to class.

Many of the cyclists  of course come with family members, who spend the week in campsites and gites, and Damien of the St Félicien Tourist Office decided that something should be laid on for these accompagnants.  He devised three walking routes, to run on consecutive days, with a lunch stop at one of the local farm producers.  Thursday’s hike took them from the sleepy village of Bozas to Arlebosc, with a stop at Melodie and Johan’s farm for lunch and back to St Félicien, a distance of 18km.  The idea is to get these people out and about, to discover our beautiful and varied landscapes, meet the locals and taste all the wonderful artisan produce.  Of course this sort of thing is right up our street and we enthusiastically volunteered to help.

So the day before our little group set out to mark the route.

We were perhaps not very efficient: we stopped for lunch at the café, poked around the hidden alleys and secret gardens, stopped again for coffee with a friend and generally dawdled and chattered, but we got the job done and had a delightful time.

The next day we were at les Blanchettes in time to set up the tables and get ready for the hungry walkers to arrive.


After a glass of water everyone was ready to sit down and enjoy Melodie’s home produced lunch.


On the menu was goat pâté, followed by goat merguez sausages with tabbouleh, then goat cheese and goat’s milk yoghurt.  A full-on goat experience!

There were armfuls of cherries freshly picked from her father-in-law’s trees and to drink, her own fruit juice, Free Mousse beer from St Victor and coffee.


The weather has been very iffy over the week but each day the hikers were able to dodge the downpours.  There were 78, 35 and 65 walkers respectively and lots of great feedback.  We are already looking forward to next year, and so is Missy the dog, who behaved beautifully throughout.





The Year in Pictures

December 14, 2013

2013 was a great year at les Sarziers.  Changes, renewals and some memorable events made for a very special twelve months.  January kicked off with the new Doghouse roof and the final touches to the restored garden.  In the Spring we welcomed several Walksweeks groups who enjoyed fantastic weather and perfect walking.  Then there was the usual buzz of the Ardéchoise, which passed through Arlebosc for the first time this year.  The big event in June was the return of the Mastrou and the start of our regular Tuesday trips to Lamastre on the market train.  July saw the publication of Welcome to the Free Zone and all the excitement and events associated with the launch.  But the absolute highlight of the year was without doubt the wonderful celebration of 25 years at the house with Jazz aux Sarziers on August 4th.

We have lots of exciting plans for next year – watch this space!

We wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year and we hope to see you soon with us at les Sarziers.

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12,952 cyclists – it’s the Ardéchoise!

June 15, 2013

Ard 1 They’re back!  The 22nd edition of l’Ardéchoise is into its final day, with nearly 13,000 participants pedalling all over the department.  As in previous years, we have a vélomane staying at les Sarziers who will be returning this afternoon from his four day tour to enjoy a celebration barbecue with us in the garden.  The weather is perfect and the welcome from towns, villages and little hamlets all over the Ardèche has been as warm and enthusiastic as usual.

Our Walksweeks guests too are enjoying the buzz in the villages they pass through.

This was the atmosphere in Lamastre this morning, (for a slideshow, click on one of the pictures).

More info about the Ardéchoise here

Dress rehearsal for the Tour de France

June 12, 2012

There was big excitement in Lamastre this Tuesday as the Critérium du Dauphiné rolled into town for the start of its second day stage.  This prestigious race is seen as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France with the teams and competitors measuring their strengths in terrain which closely matches many stages of the Tour.

Lamastre has never hosted a professional cycle race and had taken the unprecedented – and controversial – step of moving the weekly market day to Monday in order to accommodate the event.  We were very impressed with the slick organisation as the colourful team buses rolled into the big market square, each followed by the support vehicles and spare bikes.  We were also amazed to be able to walk about freely amongst the teams and sportsmen, who appeared very relaxed, signing autographs and chatting before heading off for the official formalities at the start of the race.  Here are a few of our impressions.

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After a circuit of 160 kms including the Gerbier du Jonc, they arrived in St Félicien with Bradley Wiggins still in posession of the yellow jersey. He kept his overall lead right to the end of the 7th stage on June 11th and so won the Critérium for the second year running. With only three weeks to go before the start of the Tour de France, he is looking like a strong favourite, last year’s winner Evans having come in third in the Critérium

For Bradley and Team Sky this was a foretaste of the Tour, for us in the Ardèche it was the start of the cycle madness of the Ardéchoise, which starts tomorrow.  This event, now in its 21st year, is the largest of its kind in Europe bringing together thousands of cyclosportives  and cyclotouristes and is a huge moment in the local calendar.  Participants can choose to follow a four, three or two day touring programme and the culminating race, on Saturday, can be undertaken in longer or shorter stages.  We have three vélomanes staying at les Sarziers before setting off on the four day 500km loop back to St Félicien.  They are delighted with the area, the stunning landscapes, and the wonderful flowers and can’t wait to get started.

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