First steps in France
Our return in France made us a first shock in return. After a year in a bubble where we seize to snatches of what said, find his tongue everywhere around you is a little rough...
Us very weird to understand everything when people talk around us, weird to speak to the french traders. It often takes to think in English before turning to someone. In short, one has the impression of an excess of stimuli, it is crevant!
We spend two days in Strasbourg between friends and family, to discover this beautiful city. It warms the heart and it allows to enjoy this return to the country: hum a good wine of Alsace; yum a good pork Hock, a good tip for cheese with a wand that chip just perfectly!
The road in the direction of Nancy by the the Marne-Rhine Canal. A portion, between Saverne and Sarrebourg, the bicycle path follows the old canal, dry. In this very Valley, the atmosphere that reigns is special: houses to lock some of which are in ruins, doors of the mid-open locks stuck by rust, bottom of the channel invaded by reeds...
Just found the channel share hiding in a tunnel. It is on the heights of the hill we find shelter for the night in the garden of Yann and his wife, a Laotian immigrant in France children, while war raged in their country in the 1980s. They invite us to dinner (in addition, they are Asian caterer!) and we live an unforgettable evening with them to speak of Laos we visited, the feeling to be stateless because the France nor Laos not really welcomes them as part of their. the weight of their experiences as Yann remembers precisely his flight when he was 9 years old; sufferings of the past and future generations that they also are struggling to find their place; but also of the Actualité burning of immigrants of today, a subject on which they have an opinion different one and the other, notice sometimes very surprising given their history...
Nancy, on Saturday, a cousin is welcomed into the family. We are very pleasantly surprised by this city: much more attractive than our a priori we left to imagine.
Despite a beautiful autumn sun, day on the roads after Nancy see not much our smiles: terribly depressing,. a Sunday in the Meuse département When it has just returned from a year around the world, full of warmth and meetings travel: white stone villages look cold enough, the streets are absolutely empty. Fortunately, the bike to move forward fast enough so that this passage is of short duration. As of Monday, there are less empty villages, half-timbered and even at the end of day houses: vines! We are in the Champagne!
Vineyards and bubbles!
The Champagne-Ardennes region welcomes us well! Superb vineyards out of sight around Reims, a host warmshowers in Reims with whom we share our experiences of travel around a few beers, a small family production of Champagne cellar where the woman takes 2 h to let us taste, explain, do us four - you knew that the pressure of a bottle of champagne is the same as that of a bike tire - 6 bar? – …
The region is also that of the 1914-1918 war, and this past is very present everywhere: Sacred waymultiple military cemeteries (french, Italian, American, English...). It is something to be facing all these testimonies of this terrible part of history.
Hill in Hill, field by field, our thoughts go sometimes far away. Vineyards remind us all of these fields seen around the world: cotton, rice, cabbage, corn... Cemeteries make us remember all these cemeteries around the world. Everything reminds us that we will soon return; one is that half "on the spot", thoughts roam between more or less far, past and future, with all that awaits us on the return. One has the impression that time is no longer really the discovery but the journey, both physical and psychological, back.
At the same time climatic conditions we also grow back: wind pushes us several days away to Paris; It's nice, but the cold wind we seized as soon as one stops pedalling. Then little by little, we are preparing!
Nevertheless, the Panel "ile de France" done us all funny! That's it, going from the agricultural hills to the large plateaus in the Paris region. And at the end of day on 2 October, we are at Coulommiers, where it is the tent near a corn field; the soundscape is already almost Parisian, with the regular passage of aircraft above our head and the background sound of traffic in the distance.
Last day before Paris
They had roll with us the first week of this journey, here again Erwan and Geraldine, to accompany us in another moment of our trip: the entry into Paris.
We find them at the station of Mouroux, then... on the road! Are quickly found our habits of gathering of wild fruits, gossiping, told is our latest respective adventures by bicycle. In order to enjoy together, avoid busy roads and cut by paths of forests: right at the beginning is slipping not bad in the mud, but the State of paths improves during the day. In a village, are discussed with a granny who offers us apples in his garden: Finally, the french also know to be welcoming!
Of one national forest to another, without taking too many roads, one coming soon to Valenton, and on the banks of the Seine. It is more enough to walk along its shore to the North! Not bad for an entry in Paris!
This day to chat with our friends we avoid too think and realize that we come back at the point of departure of our adventure, our last fixed place of habitation! Thank you Coco, it was cool to accompany us to this day!
For foreigners who do not know the France, this city is the symbol of the country, and sometimes even the only city they know - with the Eiffel Tower as a symbol. This city which we have so often heard the name when we say "we french"the city where we lived before becoming "homeless to bike". It's full of symbols that we find here, on our bikes loaded with our bags. the memory and heart more full when we left it.
We spend the weekend with several friends. We find many places or often before this adventure, we were going by bike: the Quays of the Seine in downtown who have often seen our wheels, day or evening return. the champ-de-Mars time of a picnic; the city centre with the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Concorde... They are full of memories of our Parisian years returning to the surface. Remember nice years, but a past which we're not nostalgic either: it was great, but we want something else for the future.
After a night at Guyancourt in the family, we leave Paris for our last days of road. But we are not alone to this last week... and even less for the last day! The sequel here!