Tour de France

The Mediterranean See is quite nice, but after more than a week I didn’t mind to go more inland. After Montpellier I headed straight-up north again.

But I was immediately a victim of my own bad planning. I have a tendency to plan things a bit too tight. In Narbonne I e-mailed a fellow-Frisian poet, who lives in Grenoble, that I could be there in four days and if he thought it to be a good idea to have a coffee, maybe even a place for my tent in his garden. I received an e-mail already the same day that he was delighted to hear of my coming. I could have dinner with them and could sleep in the house. It was a most pleasant stay to say the least. He and his wife have been on bicycle trips as well. We had a nice chat about literature, new projects and what not. He showed me around in Grenoble and as a history and geography teacher his knowledge was vast. And he knew a few good pubs as well…

To come back at the bad planning. Before I finally reached Grenoble I had to make quite some kilometers per day to get there in time. Although I enjoyed the scenery of south-east France, especially the last bit to Grenoble between the mountains, I constantly looked at my watch so to speak. On the other hand I didn’t mind, because in that way I got quite a bit inland, which I wanted.
The next day I had made another appointment… I had the honour of hosting a French couple in October last year. They live in Lyon, so they warmly invited me to stop by. I thought, Grenoble – Lyon isn’t that far, it can be done in one day.
And it could, easily. But by train. It was very pleasant to give my feet and myself some rest. And I enjoyed the trip by train. Just a different way of travelling for once. And in Lyon itself I could rest some more, but still got some exercise, since Gael showed me the old part of the city.

After having slept more than a week in my tent, it was sheer luxury to have a bed for two nights in a row. And even three meals with some company. Namely, the night before Grenoble I asked at a rowing club if I could camp in the little field beside it. That was alright. But then came a man from across the road, who explained that he owned the building company there and that the piece of grass belonged to him. I stammered that I asked the coach of the club if it was okay. Sure, sure, he was just checking if I needed anything. I could have a shower, coffee, water or whatever before closing time. At first I kindly refused, but than I thought, a splendid way to meet local people. Since my lost stay was a week ago, I missed the social interaction as well. When I got there for a shower, an employee asked if I didn’t want to eat with him, because he would stay for the night in the building. First he needed to go into town to do some shopping and running. We had a tasty French beer and a lovely chat over dinner. And he pointed me on the fact I was on the wrong side of the river Isère, on the other side would be a cycle path which was a lot better than the busy road I was on at the moment.

After Lyon I didn’t haste so much anymore, so I could even enjoy the scenery more. There is a lot of variety. Mountains, hills, green fields and after Mâcon I cycled through wineyards. The farmers were already busy with getting the orchards ready for spring. The route along the Saône was delightful and peaceful. And I got through areas, which reminded me of the Tour de France. My father always sees that and as a kid I saw of course some fragments when I looked up from playing with Lego. The little villages with here and there a chateau in the middle of that beautiful landscape. My last host in Ageville advised me about the best route to take to Metz and further to Luxembourg. He did a good job, since it was a very beautiful route through Lorraine over the (sometimes steep) hills. Especially when it blowed like hell and I had the wind in the back.

Apart from that I can notice that I’m getting more and more north since the nights are getting a wee bit colder and the trees have less leaves than in Spain and the south of France. After Beaune I had a few times nightfrost and than it’s a bit cold to get out of your tent in the morning and have breakfast and pack up your stuff. I knew I would ‘overtake’ the cold, but I hoped it would be a bit more north than already in France.

But that’s just how it is. I can say with ease that France has treated me very well. Let’s see how Luxembourg is tomorrow.


Early in the morning I packed up my tent with hoarfrost on it. In the afternoon I pitched it without wearing a shirt…


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