10 July 2010

Discovering more and more about France

I really need to put a map together
I have found some great things, and some things to avoid. I sure have learned a lot from being on the road here in France. I really need to put a map together to summarize all the places that are great to ride a bike in France, and towns that are fun to visit. At home in Colorado, I can read all I want, and research galore, and look at google earth from all angles, but the only way to really know an area is to go, (or ask someone who lives here). 
I am pretty sure we all share common delights when we travel. I am also pretty sure we may have common experiences when we ride a bike in France. Which might lead to common questions, those questions might include:
  • Does anyone actually inhabit these small towns I pass through (and if so why are all the shutters closed and no one around)?
  • Why don't the cafes seem to serve food (and all have male waiters)?
  • If the shop says it opens at 14:00, why is no one around at 15:00?
  • Why didn't someone tell me to incorporate not having to pee for 8 hours into my cycling training?
  • How can every road in France be under construction?
  • Why did they pave every path and hillside to begin with?
  • How many tons of gravel does this country use in a year (according to the number of Gravillon signs - it is a lot!)
  • Why do horse flys even exist?
  • Do church bells ring all night? (and do birds sing louder in France, or what?)
  • Why do the French drink such light beer?
  • Why will the road signs say 13%, but the cycling maps say the road averages 7.5%? (I want credit for my 13% effort)
  • Why do 85 year old ladies ride bikes to the markets in France, but not in America?
  • Why are the same 6 pop songs on French radio over and over again?
  • Do they really need 2 huge rows of cookies (biscuits) in the super market?
  • Why are espressos served in 1 ounce cups?
  • Why do they say yes three times in a row?
  • Why haven't the French adopted Happy Hour with food and drink?
  • And finally, what would it be like to live in France?
After my stay in the Ariege I have gotten the feel for what it would be like to live in France. I don't believe I would have had the same experience if I had stayed only in the highly touristed areas. It has been interesting to experience to local social and cultural scene, the local town and market, the changing weather. To go down to the river after a ride to cool off and watch Elma pick berries for dinner. To watch Mark cutting wood, picking cherries, and working on his land. To watch Elma take care of the house, pull fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden, and create amazing meals. To take the time to simply slow down and watch life in France. 
However, I am pretty sure I can't live in France because the horse flys like me too much, and I don't like them, but I do like so much else that is France. Still if you ever hear me talking about moving to France in the future simply reply with two words "Horse" "Flys". I forgot to share my fun experience at the Pharmacy the other day when I cycled into town in plain clothes and attempted to ask for creme for the terrible itching. Just another experience traveling in France.