Roadtrip #1 The Christmas Present

23rd December 2015. Christmas was a little bit early this year. After collecting my new car late November, I wanted to give myself a kind of Christmas present: a 500 km road trip across Tarn, Aveyron, Gard and Hérault. I defined clear targets for this trip: see the Viaduc de Millau, discover the Gorges de la Dourbie, climb some passes near Le Vigan, go to the Cirque de Navacelles and finally join the Salagou Lake. And of course, discover and enjoy my new car! In other words, the goal was to have fun all day long on beautiful roads!

The weather is foggy this morning. A little bit of motorway to begin is nice, to warm up the car and the driver. Hopefully, just after Albi, the sun goes up along with a nice blue sky. We drive on the D999 from Tarn to Aveyron. This road rambles on the hills and provides interesting views on the Tarn and Aveyron pasture land.
d999-aveyronFirst stop to take some pictures and enjoy the scenery.
focus-st-aveyronWe move on again to the impressive road going down to Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance with some nice hairpin corners. Then we arrive at Saint-Affrique where some traffic jams reduce our average speed. Some miles away, just after one of the corners, we see a giant, massive, impressive, terrible bridge. It is the famous Viaduc de Millau, one of the highest road bridges in the world.

We stop near the Tarn River, underneath the road which is 270 m above us.

We drive on to Millau then we cross the Tarn again until we reach Roque-Sainte-Marguerite. This nice village marks the beginning of a stunning road alongside the Dourbie River. This is called les Gorges de la Dourbie. The D991 road weaves along this small meandering river. We fluently jump from a corner to another, well seated and maintained in the Recaro seats. The engine torque makes the driving easier. The third gear can be used as an automatic transmission in such conditions. At 12:30, it is time to have a quick lunch as we face Cantobre, a stunning medieval village. The parcel shelf of the Focus becomes a picnic table.
cantobrefocus-st-cantobreAfter lunch, we start again, leaving Aveyron for Gard and the Cévennes National Park. The road goes up and on and becomes very twisty and dizzying. We reach the Col des Rhodes (922m).
col-des-rhodes-focus-st

After the village of Dourbie, we drive up the Col du Minier (1264m) where the fog totally changes the atmosphere. The sun goes through the mist. The view on the Vigan valley is quite awesome.

We cross Le Vigan and Blandas and we finally arrive behind a giant abyss: the Cirque de Navacelles. The road that goes down seems to only consist of hairpin corners.
cirque-de-navacelles-roadtrip-1

Then we drive on to the South towards Hérault. We drive in landscapes that are less mountainous than before but roads are still very nice. The A75 motorway with its interesting curves helps increase our average speed and bring us to a very particular place: the abandoned village of Celles, by the Salagou Lake. This place looks like a movie set for an old school western movie. The red soil, the warm sunset light, the Mediterranean vegetation, the ruined houses, everything creates a unique atmosphere. Only the rolling bushes are missing…

The last part of this trip report is about the car. This day confirms what I thought about the car before I went on this first trip. The chassis is really efficient. The brakes are good enough for going down all the passes. The steering is really nice, accurate, and quick to change direction. In this car, we feel the road up through the steering wheel and the hands, and also thanks to the seat as I feel it in my back (and my bottom). Comfort is very essential in a sport car. However, there is a negative point: I was bothered by the left windshield pillar. It is quite thick and it hides the tight left corners. I had to look out through the side window to be able to see the apex of the curve.
focus-st-roadtrip-1What a day, what landscapes, what a beautiful weather (for December!), what roads and what a car!

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