|Journal for 29-August-2004 : Auxerre (les Bries)|
Took a long time to get going this morning. Lots of wet camping gear to not dry out. A seatless, paperless toilet to negotiate etc.
Fine(ish) weather today. We've been in France 8 days, and this is only the second it hasn't rained. (Update: started raining again at 9pm).
We cleared the “Ille De France” region, literally “Island of France”, or the purest most French part of France that surrounds Paris. At least that's the way the Parisians see it.
Actually quite a lot of nice riding today. The D roads of France might be narrow, but they are pretty much completely deserted. The frequent villages they pass through are very interesting too. Apart from the roads signs, it'd be impossible to tell whether you were in 2004 or 1804. The French are obviously very proud of their old villages and dilapidated old farm houses, to the point where they run out of housing the construct new dilapidated old farm houses to live in. It is certainly very visually appealing, though some humerous planning decisions have been made in (I hope) the pre-automobile era. Not enough space for that for a new extension? No worries, just build the extra room for granny on the roadway.
One section of about 10ks of dead straight (laterally, bit not up and down) road perforated a small (is there any other kind in Europe?) forest. At the start and end was a tiny little ancient hard brick hut, complete with a fire place and chimney but not enough room for the toll keeper to lie down in.
Nearly bagged my first dog (who is obviously blessed with Parisian road sense).
We stopped briefly at Perceneige in the town square where we purchased a snack from the ever popular on a Sunday “mobile Patissierre”.
I've been complaining (I'm always complaining about something!) to Linda about the price of cheese everywhere we've traveled so far compared with Australia. But in France I'm in heaven. For a third the price in Australia Brie (and other less identifiable French soft cheese) is as cheap as chips. Even the no-name el-cheap brand in the supermarket is cheaper than Coon and twice as nice as any of the soft cheese available at home. Lunch now regularly consists of fresh baguettes (also better than anything sold in Oz – or Quebec for that matter) with Brie. The locals must think of this as Peasant food!
I was quite a tough day of riding. No real climbs per say, but the back roads never seem to be flat, always climbing away from a village over the one short hill then descending directly into the next small village.
The small town of Le Seiges seemed to be holding what seemed to be a collective garage sale. Market day involves everyone setting up a stall trying to sell anything and everything that might be considered old enough. And where do they do this? On the only free public space available of course: the main road through town. And by main road think 1.5m wide cobbled street. Cars, dogs, pedestrians and even bikes all picked their way through the resulting chaos.
The language barrier came into play at the Hotel Formula 1 (a cross between a backpacker dorm and a motel – ie camping without setting up a tent). I understood “no bikes in the room” well enough, but strangely all attempts at asking where they could go resulted in a change of subject by the checkin lady who pretended not to understand our question.
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