By motorbike from Prague to Sahara part 5 - Avignon, France - Andy's Travelogues

By motorbike from Prague to Sahara – part 5

From Lyon to Avignon...

Cesta z Lyonu do města Avignon, Francie - bouře se blíží

Storm in the eyes and determination

I waited a long time for the right moment to go. The weather forecast gave hope, after all, that’s the only thing they can do. My health wasn’t 100 percent yet, but there was no time to waste. As a true amateur meteorologist, I used various apps on my phone to read where the clouds would probably flow and where there would be rain that I could avoid. A thing that normally a person does not deal with much.

The planned route avoiding the rain from Lyon to Avignon might seem like I got lost a few times along the way (indicated on the map at the bottom of the page). Instead of the 240 km distance, I decided to go on a 100 km longer route. And you know what? I did well. I kept seeing rain and storms with lightning in the distance to my right. In places I came dangerously close. That driving in the rain, at lower temperatures, on a longer track and, on top of that, in not the best health condition, that’s what one wishes for.

Passing through a tornado

In the end, everything went relatively smoothly and even the ride through the tornado combined with the sandstorm managed to hold up even though I accidentally found myself in the opposite direction of the road several times. Rather than sand, dry dirt from an adjacent bare field flew through the air. Visibility hasreduced at a distance of one meter. I couldn’t stop, because I would hardly be able to explain it to the cars behind me who can’t see me yet. All that was left to do was drive it. Crossed off the bucket list: Surviving a tornado in France.

Pont de Gard - most nedaleko města Avignon, Francie - Andyho Cestopisy

Avignon and betrayal

I arrive at the address of the first hostel. I am in a housing estate, which in its desolation resembles a dusty western village. Here and there a dried tuft of branch straw runs across the road. Nothing resembling a hostel in sight. Fortunately, I had an alternative ready.

The first drops of rain fall on the visor of the helmet.

I arrive in the center of the city, where the Pope used to reside. This place is something like the predecessor of the Vatican. The city center is surrounded by walls and driving into this part of the city was a little scary. I wasn’t even sure if it was allowed. But the helmet easily feigns the confidence of ignorance, so I continued. If a policeman stops me, I’ll pretend I don’t know French. Which won’t be difficult since I don’t speak French.

I arrive at the address of the second hostel, I don’t have a reservation. This turned out to be a radical mistake. But I checked several times that they have about 15 beds available on However, the lady behind the reception informed me that they were full. I’m contradicting her with a mobile phone in my hand, that’s not true… However, the musk of a slightly mature biker impressed the young lady like a muse and unmistakably started her creative process of excuses. Nothing could be done, she was adamant. So I asked for at least a recommendation of another place.

I arrive at a campsite on the banks of the Rhone River, which flows through Avignon. If I don’t have a tent or a caravan, I have to go to a hostel, which doesn’t open until 7:30 in the evening. What kind of hostel has opening hours?! It was five in the afternoon, the hostel building was really closed and it looked like an ideal location for shooting a horror movie from the seventies. The drops kept coming and the drama in the air thickened. Wait until they open or try to continue to the next destination. However, this would mean driving another 140 km, in terms of time:  2-3 hours of driving. In addition, I have a crucial stop ahead and a 50 km detour to the Pont de Gard bridge.

The rain was catching up with me, it will be dark by the time I reach the next town and I have to get to that bridge. The situation was a bit stressful, but it could not be done otherwise. Mainly we had to go to the Pont de Gard.

The Pont de Gard bridge

When I was still a small marmot, still in communist times, my father and a friend set off on a trip around France. When he came back he was showing us the photos. That kind of thing will take its toll on you. Dad was one trip out of the blue and an adventurer. True, it didn’t change my dream of becoming a garbage man, but now I can see in retrospect that it was slightly embedded somewhere in my subconscious.

Dad’s photos made France look like a wonderful country, and of all those photos, the one with the Pont de Gard bridge stuck in my memory the most.

Note: “pont” is French for bridge.

From a young age I have had it fixed in my head that France is a great country where I would like to live one day and that I must see the Pont de Gard bridge.

I had no idea how much this bridge is a tourist monument, that busloads of tourists drive here, that there is paid parking for 10 Euros and that it is a complex where I will soon get lost…

I just came to see the bridge and continue on.

I turned the motorbike in front of the paid parking lot and drove back for a while, parked for someone on the sidewalk in front of the barracks and set off with my helmet in hand to quickly find the bridge.

That I would get lost in an olive grove on the way to the bridge and lose almost another hour, not to mention finding my way back to the motorbike… They didn’t write that in the instructions!

The raindrops begin to massage the top of my head a little more intensely than I would like, as do my thoughts of impending trouble. I still have 2-3 hours of motorbike riding ahead of me.

Séte - přímořské městečko na jihu Francie - Andyho cestopisy

Finally back at the iron steed, I put on my helmet and just in case, my raincoat. The rain started drumming on the helmet like Metallica’s drummer back when it wasn’t music for memorials. I drive slowly towards the town of Séte. I’m leaving the rain behind, in this region where I’m obviously not welcome. Just let it rain here.

As all fairy tales and even life itself prove, everything bad is good for something.

Hooray for flamingos in Séte!