VOL. 13 NO. 3
|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter|
|The Impossible Dream|
Ici et Là
Chic in Paris - Part Two
FEATURING: Haute Normandie
& Festivals in Provence
Dream in Narbonne
with escalating living costs, crowded roads and terrible weather my father
sold his Devonshire house, packed up his belongings and headed off to live
in the idyll of rural France.
As a frequent visitor to his Charentais home, I became bored of the plane, train and car and formed a flight of fancy to cycle from the northern port of St Malo through France down to his home near Confolens. It remained a pipe dream for a few years, then in March I had a '‘mid-life crisis' with the thought that "if I don't do it now then I'll never do it". I broached the idea with my good friend Hugh and his partner Kim. They seemed keen, so, before they had chance to change their minds, I booked us on the ferry across the English Channel (with bikes) for June.
None of us is particularly athletic and, although we do a few miles cycling on a lazy Sunday afternoon, none of us has tried to cycle 370 miles in a week. Thankfully, we had three months to train and arrange the logistics, bikes and kit. The first job was to get Kim a bike! Before we knew it, it was time to go. Slightly unprepared and not as fit as we would have liked, we set off for the ferry to France. We nearly missed the sailing as the first puncture was had before we had even left the garage!
The one thing I had well prepared was a route itinerary, and I had also booked accommodation for us at various chambres d'hôtes and inns along the way. So, every day we knew our destination and exactly how many miles we had to cover (assuming we didn't get lost). Once we were on the French roads and as our wheels went 'round, we felt ourselves mellow and our cares slide away.
Our route took in Brittany, through the Loire Valley and then to join the river Vienne and follow it all the way down to Confolens in the Charente. Brittany, similar to my home county of Cornwall, is a beautifully green and pleasant land; we followed the Rance canal to the city of Rennes. This region is famous for it's crêpes and cider which we enjoyed very much.
As we entered the Loire Valley the landscape dramatically opened up to a drier terrain and the breadth of the River Loire. We followed it's course through the pretty villages and vineyards, spending some quality time in the towns of Saumur and Chinon.
is certainly a great way to see the countryside; the pace allows one to
take in details of the sights and the smells, say "bonjour" to everyone
you pass, and it's easy to stop when see something of interest or sample
something from the local patisserie or relax over a café
au lait. We had little to care about while in the saddle: simply
to ponder what we fancied to eat next and to wonder what our next port
of call would be like.
> to join us on a second visit to Narbonne with Marlane O'Neill. Notes on Narbonne will become a regular part of our newsletter to take you to all the fascinating sights in the city and its surrounding region. This time, join Marlane at the Tour de France!
> to continue your shopping spree in Paris with Maxine Schur ...learn the little tricks to dressing 'French' to make it appear that you are not a tourist after all!
> to see a national healthcare system that works ~ one judged by the World Health Organization as the best there is ~ read our French Healthcare article.
> because if you are a French movie fanatic, we have the book for you! Learn where a memorable Parisian scene of your favorite French film was shot so you can walk in the footsteps of the actors who made it come to life!
> to welcome Jill Butler back with her explanation of how one lives on French time...certainly a relaxed and enjoyable method of NOT watching the clock!
ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your
Knowledge of Historic Paris
by Arthur Gillette
Question from the last issue: Quite young, Frantz Liszt was brought by his parents from Hungary ca. 1813 to pursue his musical training at the Paris Conservatory. He was, however, refused admission. Why?
Because foreigners were not admitted to that prestigious institution, directed
Our new question: Why is the elegant Place des Vosges, in Paris' aristocratic Marais neighborhood, so named?
by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages Strolls.
We're going to enjoy the Mouffetard Stroll with him in October!
[See the answer to this edition's question revealed in our November 2009 issue.]
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