Stage 11 & 12 – Hills & More Hills

by Jeanne


Stage 11: Courchevel to Briancon; 173km/107mi
Stage 12: Briancon to Digne-les-Bains; 187km/116mi

The biggest news from today’s race is that Manuel  ‘Triki" Beltran fell on a hill climb suffering a concussion. One of the strongest climbers on the team he has dropped from the race. Did we all see that handsome Frenchman who shared the podium with polka dot jersey winner Rasmussen. That’s Morrocan-born and 14-year pro (now retired) former best climber Richard Virenque. He won the TdF KoM seven times! Hmm, right and there was that doping scandal, but isn’t he just yummy?

A cooking holiday in Provence is on many food lovers lists.  There’s no better way to experience local culture than to taste it. Provencal cuisine uses the best of natural products delectable olive oil, twenty aromates (fragrances) (fresh or dried herbs and spices), sixteen types of fruits de mer, forty-six species of fish known to the region’s shores and wines such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape and fresh goat cheeses from the surrounding mountains.

Offering a backdrop of biking, wine cave touring, along with a salt tasting in St. Rémy, a visit to an escargot farm, and lessons in blending pistou, this 7-day trip from Bike Riders Tours surrounds you in food, sights and comfort. Cost (2005):  $3,680 pp

Epiculinary offers a four day trip where on the second day you are biking to your cooking lesson where you may prepare a tomato, olive and onion tart pissaladiere, chicken sautéed in olive oil, rosemary and red wine, tapenade with sun-dried tomatoes; polenta with butter and sage; and perhaps a tart of Muscat grapes.  They will then cart you and your bike back to your villa.  The trip can be put together for a minimum of two people.  Cost (2005):  $1,695.

For those of you who prefer a less active vacation, Patricia Wells, journalist, cookbook author and instructor opens her 18th-century Provence home for hands-on cooking along with trips to vineyards, markets, shops and local restaurants. Cost (2005):  $4,000 pp/lodging not included. (She is Patricia Wells after all!)

Chef and restaurateur Carole Peck and her French-born husband Bernard Jarrier open their home with their Culinary Provence tour. The week-long holiday includes cooking lessons, visits with local chefs, trips to new and favorite restaurants, wine tastings and a workshop at the Institute of Olive Oil. Cost (2005):  $3,200 pp

Les Liaisons Délicieuses week long ‘Celebration of Seasonal Delicacies in Provence" offers a heady mix of eating, cooking, drinking and eating again.  There’s even an opportunity to "promenade in the Garlaban Mountains to collect “herbes de Provence.” Cost (2005): $3,990

Image:  Jennifer Garant (magnet available at