Tue 17 Mar 2009 20:41 GMT
We have just spent 3 days in the 'Ardeche' area.
During our 3 hour journey south, all traces of snow gradually disappeared save for on the very highest mountain peaks. We soon shed our gloves and woolly hats and donned shorts and T-shirts. It was as if we had jumped straight from winter to summer, bypassing spring.
Breakfast on the terrace! Crazy to think that back at home our garden furniture has not yet emerged from the snowdrifts. We had a couple of glorious rides in shorts and short sleeved jerseys - opened up our accounts on the cyclist's silly tan lines and had that great feeling of heat radiating back up at you from the tarmac, 24 degrees C, unimaginable!
Returning home yesterday we found that the good weather had hit the Oisans too. The melt is creeping up the valley towards the village and the waterfalls starting to appear again where there were recently icicles. The snow pile outside the front door has receded to 3ft from 5ft and patches of brown grass are being exposed on the slopes behind the house.
I had a very short ride today - slightly different story to the Ardeche; leggings, long fingered gloves and overshoes (thank goodness the 'Festival of the Black Pudding' was the end of last month as my all-black get up could have me passed as a particularly succulent exhibit [4 kilos gained this winter!]). There are primroses at the foot of Alpe d'Huez, there's a warmth in the air and a generally high level of grinning and waving amongst fellow cyclists on the road.
Spring has sprung, it's official!