This morning, heads are clear, but my stomac didn't appreciate the fries, the burger, and the midnight beers. Here we are, on the roads in north of France. Today we'll go to Fontaine-les-Vervins, where Stef spent so many summers as a kid, and my stomac is still seering.
Too much weight on the bike and jealous of Alexis and Virginia going fast on their tandem, It took me a lot of energy to finish this day. Sometimes, funny questions wander inside my head : ''Did I take my toothbrush?'', ''why the hell did I choose to travel on a bike???'', or '' what was I thinking when I decided to carry 3 litters of wine?!''
We didn't realize we were leaving for such a long time until we had to say goodbye to the good friends, who stayed with us until the last moment. And tears started shading...
In la Ferté-Milon, we got a taste of the kind hospitality that people offer to cyclo-travellers:
- Where are you coming from all heavy loaded like this?
- From Brussels...
-Oh... and where are you going with all this?
- To India...
- Oh.............that's ambicious.......... come and have a drink with us!
The next morning, we ended up having breakfast with nice bread and croissants offered by Mr and Mrs Valadon, in their huge mansion.
The way to Paris was quick, and my speed o meter showed more than 400km when we arrived in Montgeron at my parents place. Despite my broken front derailleur, we enjoyed the road and the dirt tracks along the Ourcq channel. Sometimes we think we could just spend a year cycling in France!
We have ridden 600 kilometers from Paris and crossed 6 districts : Essonne, Seine-et-Marne, Yonne, Côte d'Or, Saône et Loire and Rhône.
It surprises me how we can be disconnected from reality when we travel. Even after 2 weeks, you get used to waking up every morning in a different place, with a little bit of surprise when you stick your head out of the tent.
We are also starting to have a good rythm. The days are following each other without trouble, and we ride 60 to 100 kilometers everyday.
In Burgundy, we can expect some nice moments. The weather is nice since we left, a slight wind started blowing, and the birds of prey are out. Eagles enjoy flying and seeking their meals in the prairies of Auxois. From Chablis to Fontette, they seem to like hunting in the abandonned fields.
In Burgundy, we had a taste of local hospitality. Our friend Julia openned her door in Fontette like we were family. We enjoyed homemade meals, her taste for good food and her laugh that you can recognize among thousands. With Julia we had the opportunity to enjoy a wine tasting in Concoeur and Corboin. Her friend Chantal Olivier presented to us the biggest names of the region, cautiously prepared by her son Manu. Our mouths and tongues travel from Hautes Côtes de Nuits, to Pommard, Aloxe Corton, Vosne Romanée, Meursault.
Burgundy means vineyards. You can see them everywhere in Chablis, Nuits Saint Georges or Beaune. The leaves are starting to become yellowish and the name of 'Golden Coast' makes sense now!
The region is full of hills. Uphills are becoming harder in the regions of Macon and Beaujolais, sometimes with tears. Going up to the Fut d'Avenas pass was rainy, but the descent was a huge pleasure during about 20 kilometers.
Since yesterday night, we enjoy the nice hospitality of our friend Anaïs in Lyon, but unfortunately it is pouring rain here.
Tomorrow we'll head further south, to meet nature, family, good food...
Getting out of Lyon wasn't easy, with rain, cars and dead ends. If you are a good cyclist, you try to follow the river to exit the city, but unfortunately you meet dead ends, works, you get lost and you spend an hour and a half in trafic jams (but despite this we love Lyon).
South of Lyon the coutryside of Isère and Drôme are a little boring. A succession of grey and industrial valleys. But on our left we start to see the shapes the mountains of Vercors, and we cannot help to keep on looking at them. The hills are covered with green forests, topped by white cliffs. I really would like to have a ride over there and I can imagine the silence of mountains, far away from the busy roads, but I know Stef wouldn't enjoy so much to go climbing there.
The region is becoming nicer further south. In Dieulefit, our friend Julie hosts us in this beautiful village where she is leaving for a year while she studies ceramic.
It starts to really smells like south, with the pine trees, green oaks, lavender fields, sun, and this accent that makes you think about holidays.
Since a couple of days, wind has started to blow hard. 80 km/h blowing in your back and you feel like you are on a motorcycle.
From now on, we will stop quite a lot to visit family and friends. We'll enjoy France as much as we can before we leave...
South of France is full of good things : olives, pastis, the sea, the sun, and also friends and family!
This is how we enjoyed :
Avignon and the mistral at Alines' and Gilles'
The Aresquiers beach, the homemade sushi and the homade quizz at Fred Sand and Arthur's in Montpellier
the guided tour in Marseille with Cyril
the comfort of Stef's mom's house in La Garde Freinet – and we congratulate Sylvie who rode along with us for 30 km (and 30 more to go back home)
the perfect dinner at Mathieu's in Mandelieu (and he rode 50 km with us!)
South of France is also where we met Leila and Sarah in Cassis who are also travelling with bicycles around Europe. It was very nice to ride with them, share, drink and play jungle speed! We really hope to meet them somewhere in the middle of nowhere!
The Cote d'Azur is wonderful if you manage to forget about all the buildings. The alps are litterally diving into the sea and offer magnificent scenic view to the blue sea. Unfortunately, urbanization has devastated the coast. In Monaco, we get lost in the middle of fourty storeys buildings, big luxury cars and motorways. There is no space anymore, but they are still building. We have to get out of there quickly!
With the bloody change to winter time we get now quickly trapped by the dusk. From now on, at 5:00 PM, we will have to look for a camping spot. Our last camping place will be in Menton, along the sea, on strangely shaped rocks.
Tomorrow, we will be in Italy, and we are freaking out a little bit. The trip is now really starting and it is a little bit scarry. It's like taking a plane to go far away, without knowing exactly where you're going to land, or where you will be stopping.