Route du Soleil [Route du So•leil], noun – the most awesome experience for travellers, adventurers and bon vivants in general. Experienced and enjoyed by yours truly! In the last week, I’ve hitchhiked hundreds and hundreds of kilometers, crossing three international borders. I swam in the Rhone, explored the beautiful Avignon, I partied with the Broken Bottle Big Band in front of Château de Pouget, fell asleep on the beach at midnight, got a ride from a cool French musician and met tons of awesome people. This is my story!
From the moment I read about Route du Soleil I wanted to go so, so badly. This summer that dream finally became reality and oh my, it was fun. My boyfriend Wouter and I formed team The Proadigy. Cool name, right? There was another team with the name Naft Punk (naft is Belgian dialect for gas) which I mentally saluted every time I came across their name on the daily classifications. Our adventure started in Ghent, Belgium. Our destination? Empuriabrava, 1320 km and five stops away. Game on!
Monday morning we had one day to hitchhike through Belgium and Luxembourg, cross the French border and end up in Nancy, France. This was definitely the most tiresome day – Wouter and I were exhausted! But we were so proud we reached our destination before nightfall. The coolest guy we met that day had a pasta restaurant near Liège and invited us to come over and eat sometime. He also casually mentioned that he had a few spare rooms in his place. Not forgetting that, Carmelo!
We spent the first night in our tent and got some well-needed sleep. Tuesday morning we heard that we had to hitchhike to Hurigny, once again a rough 340 km. Wouter and I took one look at each other and we knew enough – we decided putting our feet up and sipping a cold beer would be a nicer way to enjoy our day. 70 other Route du Soleilers agreed with us and so we all took the train later that day. Instant party train, check! There was a lot of Ricard. ‘Nuff said.
The next day was my favorite, I think. The hitchhiking to Avignon went surprisingly smooth (we were 29th of the 124 teams, can you believe that?) so we still had a whole afternoon to enjoy the Holy Camp. Every base camp was themed and the Route du Soleil team decorates it accordingly, so cool. In Avignon, ruled by Catholic popes for hundreds of years, there was a blow up church! That day we drank
maybe a little too much rosé wine, swam in the Rhone, ate the most delicious paella ever and just lived the good life, talking and making new friends. Life’s good.
Our next stop was Vérargues, a quiet village in the middle of nowhere. What was there, you ask? Château de Pouget, a castle that was our beautiful backdrop for the night. A truly pretty place that the Broken Bottle Big Band set on fire later that night. Man, what an amazing band they are! I would do Route du Soleil all over again just to see Broken Bottle again. True story! What a party.
The following morning we left Château de Pouget behind us for the final étappe. From the green countryside in Vérargues to the welcoming beaches of Empuriabrava. Wouter and I were first (because hell yeah) and had, once again, a whole afternoon to relax while the others slowly arrived at the camping where we stayed. The camping, Camping Nàutic Almata, was amazing. It was a 5 minute walk to the beach, there was a big pool and all kinds of facilities, all well-maintained. Aaawh yesss! Avignon was already far behind us but my heavens, I swear this place was holy. Camping Nàutic Almata = 10/10 would do (again)!
Our time there was spend enjoying the pool, the company and the food + drinks. Sunday evening we left for a short stay in Barcelona! Route du Soleil really was the most unique experience ever. Even though I clearly tried, I can’t even fully describe how awesome it was. I had so much fun with my boyfriend and all the people there. It was amazing seeing all the places and doing all these things. It’s truly a journey I’ll never forget! For those still doubting whether to participate next year, here’s a…
A quick summary
- Food – breakfast was mostly croissaints, pain au chocolats, baguettes with cheese, chocolate spread or jar and fruit; dinner was 2x barbecue (meat was delicious, side dishes were poor), paella and pasta [8/10]
- Locations – a fort in Nancy, 2x chateaus in Hurigny and Vérargues, 2x campings in Avignon and Empuriabrava [9/10]
- People – it has been scientifically proven that Route du Soleil attracts the most awesome crowd [9/10]
- Entertainment – tons of activities to do at the camps, from archery to a pong du vin (beer pong with wine) tournament + the parties of course [9/10]
- Crew – cool and friendly people, unfortunately a little sloppy in Vérargues (we started 1,5 hours too late) but besides that they were très bien [8,5/10]
Tot de volgende, à la prochaine, hasta la próxima, Route du Soleil!