Friday, May 04, 2007

from France: the velo trip

My occasional traveling companion, Ed, has sometimes expressed a desire to bike across France. Maybe “desire” is a little strong. Maybe it’s more like a wee little interest. In any case, I have been aware of this and not at all indifferent to it. I tell him – pick your dates! And in the end, I don’t even wait for his decision here. I pick the dates and book the trip before he changes his mind.

I am very much up on biking. Of a reasonable type. Meaning, not across the whole of France. Let’s be real. I am not Tour de France material. I like flat rather than terribly hilly and I balk at the idea of carrying all my travel paraphernalia in a little sack strapped on a bike rack for several weeks.

As Ed and I discuss the possibilities and the dates draw closer, we strike a compromise. We’ll hike, then bike. The first week, we’ll firm up our leg muscles hiking along the coast of Brittany and the second week we’ll bravely bike across Provence. And if it rains, I get to stay indoors and play with my spiffy new computer (WHICH IS PICKING UP A WIRELESS SIGNAL ON THE FRENCH TRAIN, AS WE SPEAK!!).

I also insist that we skip the camping thing. I want a cozy room and a warm shower. And croissants every morning and wine in the evening.

Remarkably, Ed agrees and so here we are, making our way toward Brittany. And even more remarkably, I am traveling with a small pack filled with tres cool hiking pants and not much else.

God, what have I gotten myself into?

Half asleep from the long flight and the crazy last days of work. It’s barely noon, but I am already thinking of dinner. It’s the way my mind works.

Overheard (on train, in France):
Excuse me, may I use the outlet to recharge my phone for a few minutes? It’s Friday, I’m not likely to get many calls, but still…
Ah, the week-end is here.
Elections on Sunday…

A holiday on Tuesday. Wait, didn’t you just have a holiday here?
Yes, but that was last week.

I am in France.

Late in the afternoon we arrive at our chosen starting point – Trebeurden, on the coast of Brittany. Oh, but it’s splendid here. The view from the terrace window:


We walk down to the water – a stretch of sand along a sheltered bay. Not many people here at this time of the year. Just some school children, learning about sailing, having great fun kicking a soccer ball around, building sand sculptures, pulling in boats from an afternoon out on the Atlantic waters.


The wind is sharp, the coast is magnificent. Tomorrow Ed and I will hike along the craggy shoreline to the next village, then the next. But now, I’m focused on dinner. Lobster bits and sea bass pieces, chocolate tarts and frothy berry mousses – it’s what you would expect from a remote village dining spot in the far northwest corner of France