Day 10: Horde of The Flies - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2012

Day 10: Horde of The Flies

Today was a day of extremes.

Personally, I started the day a bit tired. It could have been the fact that I was short of sleep, thanks to the town fair and 11pm fireworks display the previous night. But it wasn't just the fireworks. They had a carnival going on (you know, with rides and stuff) and music blaring. And let me tell you, sound really travels in France. So, I was a bit weary...

The ride wasn't too hard at the start, kind of up and down, but not terrible. We stopped for a snack, rode slowish, and then we turned right up a hill.

It wasn't a HUGE hill but it was steep, and probably a couple of miles long. But that wasn't the problem. The problem was the flies. Yes, flies, that swarmed all around us as we went up. There was nothing we could do about them but, well, just keep riding. It's wearing mentally. You can only go so fast, and if you stop for a breather they just swarm more. So, up we went, and as we separated, as we climbed at different paces, our own personal fly swarm went with us.

Finally, after about 30 minutes of climbing, we made it to the square of a little town at the top of a hill, where we sat and recovered, while getting a bit of relief from the flies because of the wind.

Behind us, another cycling tourist from England rode up and stopped. "That was unpleasant," he said of the flies. I would have called that an understatement.

After that we went down though beautiful, rolling countryside, and mostly it was down. Perfect!

But the best was yet to come.

Mostly, for lunches, we have been getting bread and cheese, but I've been wanting to go to restaurants for lunch.

"Weekdays are the best days," Leo and Steph told me. "During the week is when working people go to lunch. The food is great and it's cheaper. Sometimes you don't get a choice, you get what they are serving for the day, which means the quality is very good. By serving one thing they keep the quality high."

So that's what we did. We waited for a weekday and looked for a place to eat, and when the time came we ended up in a little tiny village, with one tiny little restaurant.

If I had gone in by myself I would have walked out immediately. No one spoke English, and we were told to sit at the same table (though next to) a group of men on their lunch hour. In the kitchen I could see what looked like a grandfather sitting at a table, eating lunch and reading a newspaper.

We ordered (or, I should say, Steph ordered) the Plat du jour for us all, which consisted of 4 courses, and 'entree' (what we would call an appetizer), the main course of a lamb stew and noodles, a cheese course and desert.

The entree would have fit in any fine restaurant in America. The stew was served in two bowls and we helped ourselves to as much as we wanted. The cheese course consisted of several varieties of local cheese and was served on a board that was passed from one table to the other (as the previous table had what they wanted). Of course, this style of service would never have passed health laws on the states. And THAT is what made it so cool!

The desert was a chocolate cake served with a delicious sauce, and after that we ordered coffee. The whole bill, for 3 people, came to 45 Euros, which isn't much for all we got.

But this isn't a special meal in France. This is how people eat. Instead of taking a lunch hour at McDonalds or another fast food restaurant, people eat at places like this. They take their time, at least an hour, and enjoy it. America could learn a lot about eating by visiting places like this.

For me it was a fabulous experience, for Leo and Steph it was the norm. Now I can't wait for my next restaurant lunch with them!

After lunch we set off again, to one of the longest stretches of downhill of my life. SOOO fun, with little traffic!

Near the end of the day we were pretty tired, and came into a little town where, yes, there was a campground, but it was up a steep, 5km hill that none of us had the energy for. So we looked for a hotel instead, only to find there was no room at the inn.

So, energy or no energy, we were climbing that 5km hill. It took us an hour, grinding away, and it, well, sucked. But eventually we made it.

The day was full of highlights and low lights. But that's bike touring, I wouldn't trade it for the world; it is a day I will always remember.

The little village where we had lunch
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Inside the restaurant.
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Course #1
I ate the whole thing, even that fish thing, which was delicious
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Course #2
I'm sure the woman just refilled the bowls from the other tables
That's just how it's done here
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The cheese course
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Typical scenery today
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Pretty towns...
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Very pretty towns!
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And other old stuff
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Today's ride: 98 km (61 miles)
Total: 562 km (349 miles)

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