Here at the Refuge of Madone de la Fenestre I'm 2000m above sea level and the clouds feel close enough to reach out and grab them. A bit of snow and a lot of cold. No cell phone signal at this hikers nest, no internet and no place to charge my phone. I found the latter only after I noticed that my devices plugged in the wall's socket remained as they were before: semi drained. Didn't care so much about the signal or the internet but not that happy about my discharged phone and netbook. Probably a policy of this mountain hut to leave the dinning area without active sockets and I understand it partially but no fun in my case. Food is nice though and more than enough while the people I meet are a joy to talk with. All hikers from various countries and ages while I am the only non hiker around making them wondering how a Greek biker ended up there. Blame my friend Antonello at Torino who proposed me to do so. Tired enough after the dinner and the chat whit some red wine kindly offered by 2 guys from Munich, I go to sleep very early having nothing else to do anyway.
Next day starts with a nice sunshine, a good breakfast and a group of French youngsters asking me if I had space on my bike to take all of them with me. Lovely guys but I only have space for the only (and lovely) girl they were escorting. Everything looked perfect till... while loading my stuff on my bike I notice a screw on my rear tire! A punctured tire is NOT the best thing to happen at 2000 meters with an almost dead phone battery and far from the first village while my next host waits for me at Aix En Provance. I have a repair kit with me but decide to fix it at a proper shop cause if I failed I would end up with a flat tire up in the middle of nowhere and mine was not flat yet fortunately.
Carefully driving downhill, I go to the first village (Saint Martin Vesubie) and I stop at a gas station where I am more than happy to see they repair car tires as well. I thought to myself “I run tubeless as well, 100% same procedure, could I be luckier?”. What I didn't know was the French mentality/law, you name it. No matter how I tried, no matter how kind they were, they didn't want to fix my tire. Me no French, they no English. They propose me another place to do so, some 300 meters ahead. While driving without my helmet for the first time in my trip, I see my mirrors filled with the view of a Land Rover reading "GEDARMERIE" rushing to reach me. They pull me over and fortunately I skip the ticket explaining them the whole situation. What helped to convince them was the handwritten note I kept from the owner of the gas station. As they drive away I try to find that shop but in the absence of more luck it is closed. I go back to the filling station where to my surprise I find the Gedarmerie guys asking the owner to cross check on me! I say to one of them that the shop was closed and his reaction is the visual equivalent to "Fucks given zero". The guys at the gas station still don't want to fix it but they manage to find the (probably only) English speaking lady of the village who tells me that they are not authorised to do so that's why they refuse. I open my repair kit as my only choice left only to find that the glue container included emptied due to a hole. Since that lady proposed me to go to a next village 15 km away where (there's a guy who does everything" I didn't risk to DIY repair it. I take the screw off the tire, put my chewing gum on its thread to act as a gasket, rescrewed it in, put 45 psi and headed for the next village hoping I won't go flat till then.
With the ladies instructions in my head I find the place of the guy who does everything, wasn't that hard since it looks like a junkyard - a rarity in neat and elegant France. His son appears, tell him the story so father comes up smiling "Where is the problem?" in full French accent. A couple of minutes and 8 euros later it was done with him offering me the culprit screw smiling "souvenir".
I continue my way with uplifted spirit smsing my host at Aix En Provance about the delay. Heading south on D2565 the scenery becomes more Mediterranean and less Alpine. Different and richer vegetation, more insects on my windscreen, familiar images change my mood and it is clear after many km in the Alps that I am southbound. Nice contrast after the wild Alpine beauty but pity I didn't have enough batteries to capture it.
Nice route in general heading west via D8 and D2 but the best part is the one that crosses the Gorges du Verdon, the biggest canyon in Europe offering countless stops for photos and sightseeing.