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Day A6 - Long and winding road
March 3, 2013                Mandelieu-la-Napoule to Agay                         16 miles
Beach village after Mandeilieu
Homes on hill after Mandelieu
Port after Mandelieu
Narrow shoulder 2
Today's pics were taken on the road south from Mandelieu-la-Napoule in the direction of my night stop at Agay. The picture immediately below looks back at Cannes on the distant horizon
Coastal vista

Yesterday's hike measured 13 miles on easy surfaces in good weather. The weather was even better weather today, but things weren't nearly as easy.

It was all about the route, and not just that it was 16 miles. Beyond Mandelieu-la-Napoule, the bustling Côte d'Azur gives way to a sparsely-populated, undeveloped coast. The one and only arterial road, never more than two lanes, was completed in 1934, and only parts have been improved since.

And it winds and winds, goes up and down, has few sidewalks and many shoulders too narrow for a worm to wriggle along. Often, I'd need to pause to let traffic go by - and then rush across a bridge or other challenging stretch of road.  When cars appeared suddenly, I waved my red-taped hiking pole to draw attention to myself.

The challenge was worse when the side of the road was a low, knee-high wall separating the road and me from frightening, 100 ft drops to rocks or beaches. In these many places, there would be no escaping an errant car. In fact, I was quite scared walking close to these drops even when traffic was absent.

Sunday traffic turned out to be quite busy, with normal cars supplemented by the local Mustang owners' club, hundreds of bikers, and some sporty motorbikers carving their way around the curves, recognizing an opportunity to throw their machines almost on their sides. Sunday morning is usually a slow-traffic day in France, a truism that just isn't true in recreational areas on a sunny day along this coast.

I don't think I've ever walked on a road as challenging.

Arriving at Agay, which has a great stretch of beach, I'd normally have been pleased to relax a bit, but my accom was a mile or two beyond Agay and I needed to make sure of it. At that time, after 16 miles covered at a slow 8 hours, it was after 4 pm, and I was not just pooped but had sweat-soaked clothes to deal with.

There was one moment to savor, and it was the presence of a nice shack of a restaurant halfway along the route. Now any open retail establishment is a rarity in France on a Sunday, and I was delighted to find this one. I wasn't hungry as much as thirsty, but ordered breakfast at noon, with a pichet d'eau (pitcher of water) to accompany it. Until I reached Agay at the end of the day, there wasn't a single place selling water or anything else over the counter today, not even a gas station.

Tomorrow will also be a long day, but the road looks to be straighter and flatter. I'll be passing through the city of San Raphaël and its outlying areas. This usually means less challenging roads. But, then again, it's not just about roads. It's also about weather.

Futuristic architecture
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© 2013 Daryl May