Bon Jour

 

This France trip started with a lot of planning.  It is probably due to the long time between vacations. 

 

The Departure

Departure was from our beloved Binghamton Airport.  It is great to start from a smaller airport with no lines and people you know from past trips.  There was no difficulty with the Bike Fridays (BF) in their standard suitcases and one duffle bag each.  The weight was under the limit so we were a go. 

 

We got to the airport early as required by law but there was no real need.  I started my sketching right away.  This gets me in the right mood for vacation.  I sketched our carryon luggage that was our panniers and my beloved Peggy. 

 

We boarded and the red headed Steward was already telling me to put my table up for take off.  I was in the middle of a sketch so I put the table up and continued.  She came by again and saw my sketch of her and before take off I was done and all the paint put away.

 

We arrived in Philadelphia and went right to our gate.  As we waited we got an orange juice and I looked over the international crowd.   Many looked French and some even had French passports. 

 

The flight over was uneventful except for the children behind me crying.  They actually stopped after awhile and I used my earplugs, mask and neck pillow that put me to sleep.

 

Arrival In Paris

 

Paris arrival was interesting.  Especially customs that took at least a half hour to get through the lines.  There did not seem to be enough inspectors at the gates.  The escalader was moving fast, as they do in Europe.  At the end there was a line of people.  The escalader just dumped the people off cramming them together.  Interesting safety feature. 

 

We finally got through the line and waited for our luggage.  The bikes were not there.  We again waited.  Peggy went over to get a cart.  The carts are free and it makes transport of the four bags quite easy.  After a long wait the bags did arrive.

 

We had to get to the other terminal where the train was.  This meant we had to find the bus.  Peggy was in the lead and she did fine the way out to the bus that was on another floor.  We were lucky to get a bus with few passengers.  There was room for our bags at the back of the bus. 

We arrived at the train terminal on level 5 and had to go to 1 to get the train but we did not know this.  We stopped at 2 looked around and found the information booth empty.  We finally went down to level 1 where I waited.  Peggy check out the place. 

 

We found we got to the right place and we were ready to go.  Peggy went and got a sandwich.  It was on French bread.  The hard stuff.  It was good so there were no complaints.

 

The train arrived and we had already scoped out the train car sequence so we were professionals now.  The cars were numbered and they started with the highest number first and wend down.  I figured out where the number 7 car would stop and I was ready.

 

Our train came and with confidence I went to the car.  It was number 2 not 7.  We had to run to the other end of the train.  We finally got to car 7 and found a line of people and no number on the train.  OK, it did have a hand written number 7 on the side.  We got in. 

 

Peggy took the train and I handed the bags.  We were lucky to get to put our bags on almost first.  We did move someone’s bag so we could put the bikes on the bottom level.  The bags were in and we were ready to go.  Well almost.

 

There were so many people going to car 7, that we had seat assignments we decided to go to car 8.  We just sat down.  Very few people were in the car.  A lady came up and spoke to us in French.  It was obvious it was her seat.  We got up and went to car 7 or tried.

 

There were people blocking the way.  We waited and waited.  Finally they went to get in their seats.  We found our assigned seats.

 

We were next to a Raleigh, North Carolina couple and a group of young people from America.  It was obvious where they were from for they were loud and boisterous.   A French lady kept turning around and looking at them over her glasses.  They were just showing their American heritage.  I learned from this to keep my voice down in France. 

 

Trip to St. Emilion 9/7 to 9/8/02

 

We arrived in Libourne.  We found ourselves getting off and not having an elevator.  There were steps down under the tracks then back up to the terminal.  This is difficult with about 100 lbs each of bags.  We just gritted our teeth and went for it.

 

We arrived at a small station with some ruff looking people hanging around but they did not cause us any difficulty.  We went outside and found a bench.  We started putting out bikes together.  They went together like clockwork. 

 

As we were putting them together a man came over and sat on the bench.  We were just about done and ready to go.  Peggy saw that someone left some stamps behind.  I picked them up and gave them to the man.  He we English and said thanks.

 

We were off for St. Emilion. 

 

On the way, the traffic was moderate to light.  We saw our first Château and we stopped.  It was a large hotel and very nice.  My three speed was not shifting correctly so we stopped and I attempted to fix it.  Peggy shot a picture.

 

About 7 miles our we arrived in St. Emilion to find a wonderful old city with a great big air balloon flying overhead.  Lucky for us the grocery shop was open.  It was just 7:30 so it was closing time.  Peggy got dinner and breakfast. 

 

The campground was still open as we arrived.  It was a wonderful place.  Showers, Toilets with seats and a clean up place for dishes.  I decided to cook at the clean up station.  It had water and a fire retardant surface for my stove. 

 

The tent was up and I cooked our first meal.  It worked great.

 

Monpazur-Gaugeac 9/8 to 9/9/02

 

This morning started off with me getting up early and working on my bike in the shower area.  That was the only light available.  I fixed the three speed problem.

 

Later I started cooking. Peggy tells me when I started up the stove there was a guy in the shower.  He heard my stove start and ran out of the shower.  My stove runs on car gasoline and when it starts it sounds like a rocket going off.  Poor guy.

 

We were off in the rain. 

 

We found a great stop at St Foy in the center of town.  We were looking for Coffee Oley.  You know the coffee with cream.  We stopped at this bar in the center of town.  It was a great place for it had chairs and tables outside.  Our bikes were next to us so I started a sketch (see Centre dated 9/8/02)

 

Many people looked at the bikes and were very interested.  We just had our coffee.  Peggy had two cups.  Then we went on.

 

The first flat was today.  I know there was a problem for the back tire started bumping.  I looked at it but felt it could make the 20 miles left for the day.  It did not make it.  It went out just when we found our way across the river.  We changed the tire and took our break at the same time.

 

We got close to our end destination so we stopped in a little town before Moulin De David.  It was a beautiful little town full of tourists.  One French guy came up to me and talked bikes with the best English he had.  He figured out the bikes fit in the trailers and the 42 speeds.  It was fun sharing this American technology with him.

 

We did not get food except for some eggs Peggy got at a gift shop where she got post cards.  We figured there was a restaurant at this 3 star camp ground that was just around the corner.

 

Well the corner was a large corner and down hill.  We arrived after about 5 miles of steep down hill to find the campground closed. 

 

We rode in anyway.  The people standing there told us it was closed.  I thought they were the owners.  I said “Please” but they were not the owner.  As we waited for the owner the people were very curious how far we went.  I said about 70 miles or 100 Kilometers.  They were very surprised. 

 

The owner finally arrived and Peggy took care of getting us a place.  We did not have food for dinner so we just had breakfast instead.  

 

Cahors 9/9/ to 9/10/02

 

Today is Monday.  Sunday and Monday are the most difficult days in France for every thing is closed.  We knew if we were to find food we needed to get it in the morning or forget it. 

 

We did stop at the first château at the top of a very long hill in Buron.  Ok, the real first stop was for black barriers on the hill up to Buron.  Peggy can spot a black berry a mile away.  Peggy went to the Chateau as I sketched it.  She found they served coffee but no food.  We were off for food.

 

Down the hill and into the town of La Capelle we found a store.  I did the usual and waited with the bikes.  I moved them in front of a bar/café where I could sketch.  As I did a lady came by with a folding cart.  She stopped to rest her old bones next to me on a rock wall. 

 

Suddenly I heard yelling.  Yelling is not done in France.  She was yelling at her dog and the dog of the bar/café owner.  They were doing as dog’s do, running and playing.  Finally she moved on to the store with her foldable cart.

 

Peggy returned and she wanted coffee.  She went into the bar/café and had a cup as I finished my sketch (see Dogs and Store 9/9/02).  I finished and went into the café to finish Peggy’s coffee.  The lady returned with her cart full of dog food. 

 

That made the café owner’s dog go for it.  It was a yelling match.  That was our morning entertainment.  

 

We proceeded down a country road.  This road seemed to have a lot of chateaus.  One on the left then one on the right.  It was a present ride but we needed some lunch.

 

Lunch was a the Hotel Restaurant of La Truffiere on Puy-L’Eveque.  Supposedly the most beautiful town in France.  Well, it may have been but food was on our minds.  It was about 1:45 and the waiter made a jesture to his watch.  We found out later that lunch was served from 12 to 2.  No earlier no later.  He did find an open faced hot sandwich of ham and cheese.  It was great. 

 

At the end I ordered my coffee.  I forgot the only part and got the standard black.  I drank it anyway as I sketched the Englishman next to me.  There seemed to be a lot of British tourists in this town. 

 

Off we were to Cahors.  Just as we were to go down the last hill into Cahors it started raining.  There was only one cloud in the sky so I did not think anything of it.  That was wrong.  It started raining real hard.  We stopped and started putting the rain gear on.  Peggy always seems to find a sheltered spot.  I for some reason have not learned and changed in an open muddy side road.  I got soaked under the rain gear. 

 

On our way down the hill the traffic got greater and greater.  It was about 5:00 and all were trying to go home.  A couple of racer type bikers passed us.  We stopped at the first map on the side of the road.  In most larger towns there are maps of the city close to the bus stops.  We read the map and fund the campground. 

 

Our intent was to follow the Presidents road into the center and then go to the campground.  It did not work out that was.  We ended up just following the river.  The traffic was tremendous but very courteous to us.  One lady at a round about stopped and let us go ahead.  That was such a nice jesture considering we had loaded bikes with a trailer.

 

We found the campground after a short stop at a rock wall.  It seems when we are within 500 meters of a place it gets low going.  One is never sure one is on the right road.

 

We arrived and all was well.  A man came out and found the driest place he could find for us.  He showed us the way to town for a restaurant and he was off on his golf cart for the next customer.  Many campers were here even that it was late in the season.

 

Dinner was a difficult affair.  We were tired and were uncertain of which place to choose.  We finally settled on Le Tivolt and I had roasted chicken.  Peggy got a salad.  I shared the chicken. 

 

We returned to our 13.40 Euro camping at the Riviere De Cabessut in Cahors. 

 

Rocamadour 9/10 to 9/11/02

 

Breakfast was starting the ghetto-blaster (my gasoline camp stove) for eggs and bacon.  The bacon in France is cut in little cubs. 

 

We left for Rocamadour but on the back roads.  We followed the river seemingly on the wrong side for we keep looking for a bridge.  We rode into this town and found we started going South.  Peggy did not like this turn in the road.   We turned around to the town and found a map.  It showed we were on the “right road”.  Well, the road we wanted to be on.  There were some other roads that were closer to the river but from looking upward it looked hilly that way.  We proceeded south.

 

On the way we found our left turn and proceeded to climb and climb.  It was beautiful.  It seemed like it was in another part of the world.  Desert like with little little vegetation.  It was very hard climbing but I loved it.  No cars and a long view. 

 

We got to the top and proceeded down fast real fast.  On the way down I spotted a prehistoric burial mound of stacked rocks.  I know this for earlier in the trip I saw a poster with a similar object on the wall. 

 

I yelled to Peggy but she could not see it.  I could not stop so we just went by.  This was wonderful.  God was with us today.  We did see hikers along the way.  I would love to say here and enjoy this wilderness area. 

 

We found our bride and crossed it.  It was a very narrow bride but good for our purpose.  We went on through the town and proceeded on the “right” path.  This path went through the countryside. 

 

We stopped at a large water “pad”.  The water seemed to come out of the rock wall and it did.  We found a cave just behind it.  We ventured in for a few feet but did not wish to get our bike gear dirty so we stopped.

 

Now it was getting time for food.  So every little town we passed we looked for it.  We must have gone through at least two small villages before we finally got to La-Bastide Murat.

 

We stopped at the first place we saw.  I must admit it was quite junky.  There was junk everywhere.  Put Peggy and I needed to stop so we did.  It was almost 2:00 so we were not sure we could get food.  We were assured we could so we sat down. 

 

We got raw ham sandwiches on buttered French bread.  It sound durable but it was quite good with our pear and orange drinks. 

 

The waiterase/owner was quite nice.  But the dog was nicer.  It was an ugly mutt but friendly to anyone with food.  Peggy did feed it her crust as per tradition at home with Hershey.  I sketch the dog.  The waitress was impressed.  As were the English tourist at the other table.

 

We moved on but found the road to be blocked by a policeman on a motorcycle.  He stopped me.  I said I did not understand him for I only spoke English.  He said big car ahead. 

 

In deed it was.   A big truck that filled the total road.  We found another side road to go around.  The policeman waived as we left.

 

On the way out of town we say a number of bikes at the local restaurant.  We wished to stop and have a conversation but we had to move on. 

 

The roads got hillier and hillier.  The road got rougher and rougher.  Every little town we went into was on the hill.  We went into the town then went down the hill.  Over and over we did this.  Then we say Rocamadour.

 

Rocamadour is a town that is built on the hillside in the rock.  It is on various levels with various spires at different levels of the rock.  We stopped and Peggy took a picture of our first view. 

 

We started at about the same level of Rocamdour but on the wrong side of the ridge.  We proceeded down and down.  The road turned to dirt but smooth dirt and that was an improvement.  We proceeded down.  At the bottom we were assured there was information for camping up the very very step hill. 

 

I started up but stopped about half way.  I looked up and say a hill through a tunnel that was the steepest I ever saw.  Well there was one steeper in Germany but we walked that one.  Peggy proceeded on.  So I started up again. 

 

I was in my lowest gear and pushing, really pushing hard.  My headlight was not working for lack of battery power.  A car started down the narrow tunnel but I just kept going up.  He eventually stopped and I got by.  We got to the “top”.  Well really the town gate. 

 

We stopped for a coke and a sketch of the town gate (see Up the Hill 9/10/02).  As I sketched Peggy looked around.  The shopkeeper was also an artist and showed her pictures to me.  She enjoyed my book of quick sketches.  She said it was “beautiful”.  I was just happy to have a place to sit and know the camping was just up the hill. 

 

The hill up to the camping was not really that bad considering all we did this day.  We found the camping and set up our tent close to the toilet and a young couple car camping.

 

We then proceeded to look for food on our bikes without the trailer.  We did not go far for just on the other side of the camping was a store with everything we needed.  We decided to cook. 

 

After dinner we went for a walk.  It was just getting dark and the town was light up with all its beauty.  We chose to find a place inside so we could read and I could clip out some items for my sketchbook.  We just had coffee only but stayed the rest of the night.

 

The waiter was jumping erratically as we arrived.  I thought it to be strange for a Frenchman to be so unrestricted.  I found out later it was a bee humming around.  He ended up killing it and all was well.

 

 

Eyzies 9/11 to 9/12/02

 

Did not want to leave Rocamadour so we did not.  We started out and I stopped for a last sketch (see Moving on 9/11/02).   As I sketched people admired the bikes.  And pictures were taken.  I think we got more pictures of the bikes then us.

 

Today was the search for caves. 

 

On our way to the caves we stopped for a “proper” lunch in Carlux.  Carlux was a town with another Chataux in the woods and lots of bikers and tourist.  Well lots for Sept. 

 

We stopped for lunch and I had the lunch of the day.  It was a three-course meal that took the traditional 2 hours.  Much too long for bikers that could have gone 20 miles in that two hours.  It was a good meal but the time was just to valuable in the middle of the day.

 

I did take the time to get two sketches but it was time to move on.  From this experience we learned to carry our own lunch.  Actually we should have learned this from our last trip in Denmark were we had a similar experience.  Day light for a biker is just too valuable.

 

On our way to Eyzies we took a light detour to La Rague Gageac.  This is the town that has dwellings on the hillside similar to the American Indians of the Western desert.  It was a good stop for an ice cream and a sketch (see Looking Up 9/11/02). 

 

There were tourists everywhere and it was good to be on a bike for easy parking.  This was a very present stop.

 

We were off to Les Eyzies and the camp ground.  On the way we went by a hotel that had a group singing and playing traditional French music.  I wanted to stop and listen but we had to move on due to our long lunch.

 

Les Eyzies was not far.  After we found the town the camping was not hard to find.  It was just on the other side of the river.  This town is just our size, small.  We found a beautiful old home at the receptions of the campground.  We set up and then went to town for dinner.

 

I had steak and fries.  Peggy had a salad.  We shared food but not our wine.  She got a Rough and I got Rose.  Peggy’s was better so I snuck some of hers.

 

 

 

Atur 9/12 to 9/13/02

 

We got up a little late for we wanted to see the museum of per historic history in Les Eyzies.  This museum was up some very steep stairs just behind the restaurant we ate at the night before.  It had about 4 rooms that held rock carvings, tools and human remains of prehistoric man. 

 

It was very interesting and the extra time spent here was well worth the wait.

 

On our way out of town we say a dwelling on the side of the road.  It looked much like the dwellings we saw the day before.  We stopped to take a look. 

 

We rode in the hopes to find a cave.  On the way we found Grotte Du Grand Roc.  It was a bit off our route so Peggy was unwilling to go.  We could see the crack in the rock on the way.  It showed a number of people waiting for tours of the caves.  We moved on .

 

We followed a river and stopped in Cubjac.  On our way to Cubjac we passed an older couple dressed in formal walking cloths hand in hand.  I hated to disturb them as I road by them with my rattling trailer. 

 

The stop in Cubjac was a present stop next to a bridge with ducks under neath.  The ducks gave us their usual duck quack as we had our lunch. 

 

We intered Perigueux just at lunch hour.  Cars and trucks were everywhere.  On our way in we stopped at a camp ground but found it to be closed.  This made me nervous.  We proceeded into the traffic.  One the way into Perigueux we say a bike store.  We stopped. 

 

Peggy went in while I determined the traffic pattern to proceed on.  Peggy returned with directions from the bike store that there was a camp ground about 4 KM up the hill.  Hills did not bother us and just for another 2 miles we figured this was a good bet.  We were off to Atur. 

 

Atur was indeed up a hill but with no traffic.  We arrived at Atur and after a quick search we found a campground sign.  Assured it was the way I proceeded.  Up the hill again. 

 

We went for about a mile and I got discouraged.  I saw a biker and asked “camping”.  He said Qie and traveled on.  Encouraged I traveled on.  Peggy cot up with me.  It was about 7:15 and I know the grounds closed at about 7:30 as I was anxious to find the camping.  We say a sign that I though said left.  I went left and started down and other hill.  Peggy said, “ I don’t want to go down any more hills”.  

 

We stopped Peggy went back to the original sign.  I waited put decided to proceed.  I finally saw another camping sign.  We got together and went on.  About 2 or three miles later we finally found the camping.

 

There was a very friendly girl who spoke English.  She check us in and all was well we thought.  We did not have food!!!

 

We asked about the restaurant and it was closed.  There was food in the pantry but not much.  We chose spaghetti and sauce in a small jar with beans.  We were set.

 

Dinner was cooked as per our new tradition at the dish-washing station.  I had it all set up and the camp stove was running and water boiling.  Water boiled over and the stove went out.  In the process of restarting three people came over to clean dishes.  The were just on the other side of me.  If I was to have dinner I needed to start the ghetto-blaster (stove).  Well I gritted my teeth and lit the match.  Boom went the stove and I saw white eyes of my new friends.  They smiled I smiled and dinner was on.

 

Dinner was the best. 

 

We read by the light of the dish washing station.  Then to the tent.

Rochochourart 9/13 to 9/14/02

 

We had to go the extra five miles back to town.  But this time it was down hill.  It took no time and traffic was light. 

 

We arrived at our bike store area and found the bakeshop and got some food for snacks.  We did not wish to run out of food again.

 

We road through town with little difficulty considering it is difficult in France to find the road you wish to be on after you leave the center of town.  We stopped at Chateau l’ Evidiu for a breakfast break. 

 

There was a Châteaux but I chose to sketch the church (see Short Stop 9/13/02).  As we ate we watch the cars go by and the people bussel around town.  A man with a small car drove by us and parked in the lot just before the church and Chateaux.  He got out with a tray of long green vegetables.  He turned to Peggy and I and said “bona Patite, Manamosell”.  It made Peggy’s day.

 

We road on but know we had time today for we were a little ahead of schedule.  We did not have to cook breakfast.  We stopped at Brantone where we found a toilet and the beautiful “blue” Chateaux.  I did a sketch while Peggy went to the market.  It was market day and all were going around with baskets of food.

 

A man in a baray and  suit with a cigar in his mouth came over.  He shook my hand then Peggy’s.  He looked at the bikes and indicated we were very strong.  He walked away shaking his head.  What a pleasant gesture.  One does not need to know how to speak French.

 

We thought the campground was to be about two miles out of town but found it to be on our side of  the town.  We stopped at the came ground before going up the hill to town. 

 

No one was there so we just set up.  As we were setting up a lady walked in.  I waved she did the same so I assumed it was fine and it was.  We set the tent up but took our mates and lay in the son for a while.

 

Off to town for dinner and a look at the Chateaux De Rochechouart.  The hill was steep but with not trailer not difficult.  A gas station was there so we stopped for our $.25 worth of fuel.  I was not set for cooking for I was about out. 

 

We road around the small town.  We found restaurants but not yet open.  They usually open at 7:30.  The stores were still open.  We stopped at the groser.  A little black haired girl was sitting out side of the store.  I sat next to the bikes on a yellow pipe car stop.  I could see she was going behind me.  I assumed she was looking at the bikes as most people do.  I decided to look around.  She was looking at me.  Well, my helmet mirror.  She could not figure out what it was.  We talked she in French me in English.  She was cut I must admit.

 

Peggy came out with a few snacks and breakfast. 

 

We went to the Chateau and road our bikes in.  It was beautiful and we could have gone in to look but I know it was full of modern art.  We looked for a coffee shop so I could sketch and she should drink her coffee.  We found none. 

 

We returned to the grosser for dinner stuff.  Then to the camp for cooking.  I was just about to start the stove when the lady pepriortor can over behind me.  I decided to wait on the lighting of the stove.  She was nice to turn on the light over head so we would have a lit that evening then left.

 

We cooked eat and read by the light.    This was our first true Municipal Camping.  At 6.10 Euro who could complain.

Montmorillion 9/14 to 9/15/02

 

After breakfast we were off to Montmorillion. 

 

Our first stop was for our first French Pastry in Confolems.  I was looking for the center of town but decided to turn left and stop on a small bridge.  We parked the bikes in two small out coves on the  bridge.  At first I thought it was not needed for it was such a narrow bridge.  I was wrong for cars would travel by as I sketched the view off the bridge (see French Pastry). 

 

As I sketched, Peggy went off for Pastry and I listened to the British tourists look at our bikes.  I just kept sketching.  The pastry was great.  It was our first French pastry.

 

We were off but not far down the road we found St Gerone.  It was a small old town with a castle on the hill.  I tried to ride up the hill but could only make it about half way up.  I stopped at a house.  Really the back door of a house and sketched while Peggy explored the castle.  (see Butter Flies 9/14/02). 

 

Continuing on we found the town of Adriers.  There was a marvelous church in the center of town but even better a café with coffee.  We sat outside so I could sketch the church.  (see Town Reunion 9/14/02).  Before sketching the church I got to go inside and say a little prayer for Hershey and our safe trip.  It was dark but I could see the many old and beautiful statues. 

 

This looked to be a town I would like to revisit.  There was an elderly lady walking with a other lady.  They were walking to the church.  Another lady came by on a motorized bicycle.  The all greeted each other as they were long lost friends with the standard French kiss of the cheeks.  What a friendly down.

 

Camping was at the campground in Montmorillon.  There was not one at the entrance so we just went in and set up.  While setting up a lady came over and indicated we would pay up front.  We set up and proceeded to the front reception area.

 

She arrived shortly after we did.  It took about 30 min to get all the information.  The camping cost 2.74 Euro.  That is about two bucks. 

 

We road around town looking for a place to eat.  The town, like all the others was on a hill.  There were many statues and beautiful building.  We settled on a bar right out side the camp ground where they were singing old French songs.

 

 

 

Bizancais 9/15 to 9/16/02

 

Breakfast was at the campground.  We said good by to the nice lady and road up the hill to town. 

 

Per our goal we tried to stop about 20 miles out.  We stopped in Belabre, a small town that supposable had a Chateaux. We found the foundation of a large Chateaux on the right side of the bridge.  We decided to stop for a quick break.

 

I started sketching the bridge that reflected in the still water with ducks and lilly pads.  The small boats reflected in the water as a man in reagity closes walked across the bridge. 

 

I was watching the man when two cyclists came across and parked next to me.  There were a few cars parked in this little parking area.  It ended up to be the meeting spot for the local bike club.  They were all interested in our bikes.  We got a few thumbs up.  I smiled and keep sketching.  They looked like a fun crowd.  It was only about 10:00 so I wandered how far they could have ridden.  I figured about 30 miles.

 

We rolled into Buzancaus and found the campground to be first rate.  The sign to the campground was hard to miss it covered the total road.  It was a large banner across the road.  We road down the road next to the stream were there were young men fly-fishing. 

 

We set up camp then decided to take a walk.  We walked into the small but beautiful town.  We found the “Hotel” that looked more like a concert hall.  We never did figure out why some buildings said “Hotel” and they were not hotels and others were.

 

We stopped into a local bar for a coffee and a sketch.  The group looked a bit roudy so I decided not to sketch till I left.  On the way back to the tent we stopped at a picnic table and I sketched the donkey across the river.  (see Ass in Buzancais).

 

Brachieux 9/16 to 9/17/02

 

As we biked to Branchieux we passed through the famous Valencay.  The first view of the Chateau was from a local reaserant.  It was 11:40 and we ordered the meal of the day.  The lady made it clear by looking at her watch it was impossible to order lunch now.  It was not 12:00.  We ordered coffee and I sketched the view of the chateau.

 

It was about 12:00 when we were about to leave.  We decided to not get lunch for we remembered the two hour lunches of France. 

 

We passed though Sellas and we stopped to eat.  I did a quick sketch of a church.  Peggy scoped out the area.  She followed some people and found a restaurant open.  We entered about 1:30 much too late for the plate of the day.  The chief was concerned but said something.  Peggy said salad and he was happy. 

 

What came was bread, fried port and a small salad.  We asked for water for wine or bear was just too much for our remaining miles.  The food was great!!!

 

We were off for a pleasant country ride.  We knew the road were on and we were making good time.  Then the right side of the road was blocked.  That looked funny the road was fine.  We continued on.  We were happy with ourselves knowing our location and making good time.

 

Then the road ended.  Yes, ended.  There were large trucks and bulldozers working on the road.  There was no road.  Peggy did not wish to go back 5 miles to the original sign.  So she just started pushing her bike through the dirt. 

 

With authority she continued on.  She went over the new bridge like she know what was going on.  I followed and kept saying “bon jour”. 

 

We made it to the other side biting our lips to prevent from smiling.  We did stop and take a picture.  It was something.

 

Two miles up I had a front flat.  Sidewall on the tire went.

 

We rolled into Barchieux concerned that camping may not be open due the it being Sept 16.  We were told the camping shut down on Sept 15.  To our surprise and joy the “Camping Des Chateaux” was open. 

 

We arrived at 5:30 and thought we may go to Chateau de Chambord that was just down the road a few miles but we were uncertain of the mileage.  We decided to go to town after a rest.

 

It was just about 7:00 when we went to town and we know the stores would close at 7:30.  Peggy had at least three stores to choose from.  I watched the bikes.  This time I could see that the building in the center of town was on stilts.  I noted it had an art show.  I locked the bikes and went in. 

 

There was a lady on guard, probably the artist.  I walked around and found beautiful oil paintings of flowers and some scenery.  I enjoyed seeing a fellow artist.  I did not stay long for Peggy was shopping.

 

Peggy got done shopping and then went to see the art.  Even though we had supplies we decided to go to the local bar/café were we sat outside.  We had a local “specialty”.  It seemed to be pattey, ham and cheese toasted.  It was actually very good and so was the wine.

 

As we were being served I noted the local community was just waking up.  Neibors were talking and husbands were arriving home for dinner.

Chambonita Foret 9/17/02 to 9/18/02

 

This was the day I started noticing the rough roads.  On our way to Chambord was a large wooded area that was the kings hunting grounds.  It was about 5 miles to when we got to see the first sits of the Château. 

 

We brought our breakfast of hardboiled eggs and other goodies.  This enabled us to have a breakfast picnic at the château so I could sketch.  We stopped at a side view of the palace and we enjoyed breakfast.

 

As I sketched I say the horses.  Well one horse was being lead by a man in uniform from the palace right past our picnic.  The great advantage of bikes is the ability to park anywhere and just enjoy the area. 

 

The rough roads brought us to St Aubin where the traffic picked up.  On the outskirts of town there was a sign that directed us around the town.  We started to take this but Peggy stopped me.  She wanted to see the town.  That was a good move.

 

We arrived in town just at 12:00.  We found a little park with benches that were in the sun.  Just before 12 many people walked by us to the building behind.  I did a sketch of it call “Something Special”.  Just about five min after 12 they all left.  We never did find out what was special.

 

The people did stop and look at the bikes.  I did the best I could to explain how they worked.  I am sure they thought I was miscalculating he distance when I told them we go about 100 Kilometers.

 

Peggy brought me a chocolate éclair.  Choclet on top and the inside.  She had some kind of creamy pastry.  We just sat and enjoyed the town park with the building behind that ended up being the tourist information center.

 

We traveled through the town and just one the outskirts we stopped at the Chatow.  As I sat on the grass for my sketch a chicken came over to check me out.  That is probably the reason for the title “Chicken Coup”.

 

The roads smoothed out in the populated areas but just about 20 miles to the end they got rough.  This was a difficult 66.7 miles today mostly due to the rough roads.  Peggy and I learned that I have a hard time starting in the morning so she leads.  The afternoon I lead her in. 

 

The camping was a bit difficult to find.  We found the town of Chambon La Foret but the camping was a bit out of town.  We took the left as the first sign said but we left town.  We got to a fork in the road.  I thought I saw a sign or advertisement for camping pointing left.  Signs pointing left in France are sometimes for straight. 

 

We stopped.  Peggy turned around to recheck the sign.  On her way back a car stopped.  She asked for camping and he pointed the way. 

 

We proceeded on and did find a campground sign about two miles down the road but you had to turn around to see the sign.

 

We arrived to fine a campground looking closed.  Some nice people in a trailer came out and pointed to set up close to the sanitary (toilets).  We just took out our sleeping pads and laid down to rest. 

 

A lady came over.  She discovered we did not speak French.  A man came over and we had a nice half conversation but we knew we were welcome.  Nice people.

Melium 9/18 to 9/19/02

 

We started out today heading for our backup campground.  It ended up about 10 or more miles away.  I am sure glad we stopped last night.

 

On the way we say a lovely little town called Yevre Le Chatel.  We did not go into the town but did take the time to stop and sketch a picture from a far (see Long View 9/18/02).  The view was over a freshly plowed filed.  It was great.

 

Lunch was in Amponville at the church.  It was a small older and impressive church.  I was fascinated by the painting under the plaster.  So fascinated I sketch the seen.  It was of war with a red cross in the middle.  The warriors were on horse back with dogs around the horses feet.  I don’t remember anything like this in the bible so I  wander what the seen is all about.

 

Lunch was an onion and duck liver (…..) sandwich.  I love the stuff.

 

We shortly entered the large town of Fontaineblue.   We went right to the chateaux.  I guarded the bikes and sketched the clock tower. 

 

As I sketched an oriental man came over and looked at my ink sketch.  I said “Hello”, not knowing if he spoke English.  He did.  We talked and talked.  It was great to see a fellow American.  He was from Indiana and traveling through with six others in a VW van.  He was headed to Versi.  We later met him again in the customs line in the US.  He was on the same flight as us.

 

We entered Melun after traveling on some N roads and quite a bit of traffic.  At one point a policeman on a motor cycle pointed at us or someone around us and motioned for us to leave the road.  This N road was the only road to Melun so I just kept traveling.  I figured he could always come and get me.  He never did.

 

We entered the camp ground at “La Belle Etoile” after traveling trough an industrial looking area.  We finally got to the river and it was a very pleasant ride in to the campground.

 

We entered and no one was around.  We just went in and started to find a place to set up.  There were quite a few people in the campground so we were sure we could camp.  A lady finally came over and greeted us.  We were in.  She spoke English and showed us the place to get supplies and dinner.

 

Peggy found a diet coke at the camp store so we took time to drink and relax before finding the bridge across to town.  Peggy shielded her head from the sun and just relaxed (see End of the Day 9/18/02). 

 

I asked Peggy if she would mind if I went to the river to sketch she did not so I left.  I found a garage and went at it (see On the River 9/18/02).  Peggy arrived shortly after finishing the sketch.

 

We went to town.  Over the bridge with a lot of traffic but beautiful flowers.  Peggy was so impressed she stopped and took a picture.  We found the grosser.  I waited with the bikes and sketch the man with an English had (see British Hat In Melium 9/18/02). 

 

We had dinner at Le Safari.  It was about 7:15 so I don’t think they were quite ready for us.  We locked our bikes next to the outside area.  We went in and we were told we could not dine on the outside.  We took the table they showed us to but went out to move our bikes so we could see them.  That is just the way in France.  One can do only certain things at certain times.  We started to get used to it but were not quite sure of the customs yet.

 

I got confused ordering dinner.  Well actually the waiter did.  I know what I ordered but he did not.  We ended up with two wines.  I decided to let Peggy order her own dinner.  It was safer that way.  The waiter did not quite know how to handle Peggy so she got what she wanted.

 

The table was beautiful with the red win and green table.  (see Last Meal Before Paris 9/18/02).

 

Roissy (Paris) 9/19 to 9/20/02

 

This was the day of traffic.  We took it in stride.  We even did an A road.  (see The A almost the Omega 9/22/02). 

 

The A road was by accident.  We were following a D road but at the roundabout it had a sign with a bike on it with a red circle.  It meant no bikes.  We traveled on.  That was our mistake.  We ended up on a barricaded road where we could not exit.  Finally we found a way we could go around the barricade and go up the shoulder to the exit.

 

We then followed Peggy’s detailed map.  The problem was when we went through towns we could not find the right roads.  We sometimes just followed the compass.

 

When we finally arrived at Roissy we saw a Comfort Hotel sign.  We were so happy we gave it the old “yah”. 

 

We entered the town but could not find the hotel.  We stopped and asked a man getting his mail.  He assured us it was only a few meters ahead on the right.  It was.  I could kiss the ground.  We made it!!!!

 

Peggy and I enjoyed the hotel and the little town.  I sketched and sketched and ate and ate. 

 

The room was small but we had space to put both bikes to gather in the box.  It all worked out well.