We are in the process of preparing for our return to France.

  • We are looking for places to sleep in between Madrid and Paris (we only need a little corner of land to pitch the tent!). If you can help us out, please follow this link.

  • We already have a couple of conferences lined up along the way. To see the schedule, follow this link. We would be happy to met with you!

We are also looking for an apartment in Paris or the surrounding area, starting in mid-May 2010. Any help or suggestions would be most welcome!

More reunions!

Since our arrival in France, we have been taking more back roads through the country. We want to see France from another perspective and also stay away from the traffic. We’ve been biking through lots of small towns, trying the bread from the local bakery, as well as their cheese and charcuterie. Our taste buds are in heaven!

In between Montauban and the Gard, we stopped in Mazamet, where the Association du Pot Ethique wanted us to give a presentation about our trip. Although it was during the holidays, a few people still came out to see us, and we shared our adventures with a small group. It was very different from the Montauban conference of over hundred people, but just as interesting.

In between the Tarn and l’Hérault, we biked 50 km along a trail, a old railway track that has been converted into a bike path. It was really nice to see such a well managed public space, and we really enjoyed the green interlude.

In the Gard we were meeting some of Sara’s family and friends at the beginning of the bike path. We were reunited with Marie-Thérèse, Sara’s aunt who we hadn’t seen since we left. Carl and Nadine were also there (Sara’s aunt and uncle), and their kids Titouan and Anélie, all of whom had come to visit us for two weeks in Costa Rica, a year ago. We had a picnic in the grass, and after lunch we suggested a coffee. Nadine admitted that she had forgotten the thermos. But not to worry, Sébastien took out the stove to heat some water and we used some of the powdered coffee and sugar that we had left. Our lunch companions were astounded, but it just goes to show that a cyclo-tourist is ready to handle (almost) anything! So after a little cup of coffee, we headed out for the last 20 km. About half way along, Cyril, a distant cousin, joined us with his two kids. We didn’t know him, but he knew us – he had been following our whole trip! It was amazing to meet him and we were really touched. We were able to bike a little some of our nearest and dearest, and that is priceless.

At the end of the afternoon, herded along by Marie-Thérèse (who felt like she was bringing us home), we were reunited with Sara’s grandparents, eagerly awaiting our arrival. Mamie Jeannette was waiting at the corner of her street with Sabine, another distant cousin. They clapped as we rode up. It is all those little things that mean so much to us, the seemingly insignificant gestures…  someone waiting outside to greet us, a smile, a hug.

With Sara’s grandparents we watched French news for the first time in two years. We were a little lost when they talked about the train strike since they never mentioned the reasons behind it, and when they discussed the French consequences of the Icelandic volcano. We could hardly believe how the news only addressed the French perspective, as if France was the only country in the world. We were surprised too to see how the French news only talked about the consequences of things, and never their causes. We asked around, but no one could tell us exactly why the SNCF were on strike, even though they’ve been striking for almost two weeks. And the planes were grounded all across Europe, which we were thankful for! Since being back in Europe, we seen and heard more planes than during our whole trip. Even when we are camped in the middle of a forest, the planes still shatter the silence as the fly overhead.

Yesterday, Sunday, Marie-Thérèse organized a dinner at her house with all the aunts, uncles and cousins from Sara’s mom’s side of the family. We met Colline, born while we were away. We had a wonderful time, laughing and getting to know them.

Tomorrow, we are back on the road. Sébastien’s family is waiting impatiently for us to arrive, and we will finally get to meet our nephew Paulin, also born while we were away. You remember that little bundle of joy, the next cross-country ski and cycling champion, currently exercising his vocal chords!

Sara

[Drapeau de France Heather | Le 16-04-2010 23:44 | Add a comment]

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