Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

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Sunday 22 September 2019

Cycling in the Alps Day 2. (Tour de Lac Serre)

Cycling in the Alps day 2
The forecast today was the only poor one for the trip so it seemed best to not do any big climbs (cols) as we would be only going into the cloud. Fortunately the plan I had put together was to ride around the mountains surrounding, Lac Serre, which we had passed yesterday, meaning we would be staying low. 
It was set to be a cloudy day
In cycling terms the leaflet that today’s route was based open said it was a similar distance with the same amount of climbing as yesterday albeit spread over the ride rather than the front loaded climbing shock we had experienced.

After the late start and finish to Day 1 I was keen to have pedals down much earlier today but it proved difficult to separate Andrew from his breakfast. Nevertheless after medium faffing it was pedals down at 8:45 nearly two hours earlier.
Pedals down at a more acceptable hour today
Unfortunately the first and last sections of the ride were a repeat of the way back from yesterday but at least the way out was predominantly down hill meaning we made good time to where the first of our 3 climbs today started. 
It was a downhill if cloudy start
This one was only about 200m of up but still a shock to the legs after the long downhill start. From the view at the top we saw just how big the lake was and as a bonus on the other side of the ravine we could see yesterday’s windy descent down Col Pontis.
The descent of Col Pontis (unless you were going the other way round)
The next section was a long descent on a very good quality road surface which should have been very pleasant. Unfortunately by now the drizzle had turned into proper rain and what wind there was was into us. This made our descent really horrible as we got very cold and wet, it would have been much better if we had been doing a good climb to warm us up.
Views of the big lake
But we weren’t so when we arrived at our first targeted stop, Cafe du Lac which was near if not next to the Lac (Lake), we were both absolutely frozen and Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) was shaking like a leaf. Worse still our nemesis, the motor-bikers, had just got there before us and had put in a big hot drinks order.
The Cafe Lac, near the lake
As we shivered in the corner we asked if there was any food, there were no croissants but they could do us some bread and jam which we quickly accepted.
Bread and Jam
Our view of the cafe du lac was quite different I thought it was dark and pokey and the 1950s style jazz music being played was very annoying. The drinks were average and the bread and jam was, well bread and jam. The only positives were that the bikers were outside and there was a hot air dryer in the toilet that I could try and dry my cycle shoes under.

Andrew is notoriously hard to please unless there is some pretentious old style continental vibe so apparently all the things I didn’t like made it great. I promised to take this into account in my cafe rating (I didn’t).

When we set off things were looking up, we were now just cold rather than hyperthermic, it had stopped raining and we were about to do the only named climb of the day (Col Lebraut) which should warm us up.
About to start todays only proper climb
On the way up there were good views of the damn that had been built to provide electricity and had increased the size of the lake by absorbing a local village now below the surface. Sadly I’ve forgotten the detail on the information board, mainly because it was in French, but if you want to know more than feel free to google it.
The damn that had absorbed a village, apparently
As usual I had opened up a gap which meant there was another chance for you to play where’s Andrew from the photo below.
Wheres Andrew this time
It was a fairly straight forward climb made easier by the constant dramatic views.
Dramatic view
If we didn’t already know it then it was clear this was cycling country as at the summit was a handy bike rack on the side of the cliff. Although it was not being used today
Handy bike rack at the top
Just as we had warmed up it started  to rain again. I decided I wasn’t going to get cold and wet waiting so headed straight over the top, enjoying more lakeside views which were now getting a bit samey, before waiting for Andrew in the dry under a bridge.
Met up again with Andrew under a dry bridge
Here we decided to change our nutrition strategy and stop at the town we had had pizza at yesterday as we had spotted a good looking Boulangerie (bakery) when we were leaving it.

First there was a long and busy section alongside the lake to get through. The cycle leaflet had claimed this ride was along small quiet roads and had clearly been written by someone who had ever been to Norfolk as most of these roads would have past for motorways in those parts. We eventually crossed the bridge over the lake and into town.
Crossed bridge to town
Here we found Le Fournil Savinois Boulangerie (bakery) which we were relieved to see was open on a Sunday.
A promising looking cake shop
It had great views from the outdoor seating area (although we were still too cold so sit outside).
View from the very cold outdoor seating are
It also had a proper cake selection and croissants.
Proper cake selection
I opted for both plus a sandwich, it was certainly more my type of gaff than the cafe du Lac. The croissant was excellent and by far the best this week although I didn’t feel it felt French enough to be crowned the ultimate one. The raspberry tart was delicious and worth the cold and rain to get there alone. Sadly the cafe was let down by a rubbish cup of tea and strictly speaking was not mountain top, more lakeside, so although it was the best cafe I’ve been to so far this week it won’t make my list of the best mountain top ones.
Great cake, disappointing tea
There was still one more climb to do with yet more lake views which you are probably getting bored of too.
Another lake view zzzzzzzzzzzz
It did have the bonus of descent of the week which Andrew, who likes going down, particularly enjoyed.
Andrew at the bottom of descent of the week
After this it was a repeat of the long 18 mile slog up a 2-3% gradient which we went down this morning and had ridden back along yesterday. Once again I left Andrew behind in order to encourage him to go faster in future although this strategy doesn’t seem to be working. But it did have view of the day.
The day ended with the best view so far
We both agreed it had been another excellent ride and rationalised that the cold wet start had made us enjoy the afternoon climbing section all the more.

The route and ascending was slightly shorter than advertised but I plan to make up for that tomorrow with the Queens stage which is again 75 miles but features 3 category 1 cols, so twice as much going up, as today. It should be an early start and late finish which will test us to the limit, both on the ride and Andrew's ability to get ready on time.

Todays Route


Cafe ratings
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Col Du Vars
Chez Barulo
Café de Lac
Le Fournil Savinois
Auberge Roche Grande

Le Krystal Bakery

Alpe D’Huez

So Sweet

Boulangerie Du Entraigues

Chez Maria

Luton Pret
La Marandiere, Barcelonnette
Café du Vars
Le Fournil Savinois 

Trip statistics
Average Mph
Time on Bike
Metres climbed
Col Vars
Tour du Lac Serre Poncon
Three Cols from Barcelonnette

Alpe D’Huez

Quiet Cols recovery


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