Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Cycling in the Drome

Cycling in the Drome.

You can smell Provence.  Curry smells, pineapple-scented yellow broom, lavender and fragrant herbs.  It's a joy to be here.  Weary from big climbs in the Alps, cycling in the Drome is very flattering.  You can cycle uphill at a good pace and the descents can almost be brake free!  There are several "route remarquable", with stunning scenery of gorges, wooded hills of good height, with villages perched high on top, ruined castles and chapels, and limestone outcrops.  I's a place frequented by rock climbers, mountain-bike riders and cyclists, but not loads of them.  We cycled for 50 miles or so on quiet, scenic roads around Ferrassieres and Montbrun, over a couple of cols, but nothing too exhausting.  Ready for an ascent on Ventoux tomorrow, sorry Le Mont Ventoux, the Giant of Provence, to give it it's full title!
We skyped the family in USA, who have now been increased by one very well behaved dog, called Melanie.  An Australian-German shepherd dog, she seems to have a lovely nature.  Lizzy explained how when you get a dog from the pound in US, they train them to make them more attractive to owners.  So they have a dog who is about one year old, trained and obedient, neutered and vaccinated.  So they can just enjoy settling her into the family.  Lily's not too impressed by being licked by Melanie, but it must be lovely for her to wake up to Melanie and going to the park with her etc.  Apparently, Melanie is already quite protective towards Lily, when at the park, and gets quite concerned when Lily goes off to play and leaves her!

An evening walk into town for a beer proved more interesting than expected, but then it was Saturday night.  A French chanteuse warbling traditional French ballades, which were clearly beloved by the audience in the restaurant.  We sat in a bar nearby, just far enough away to avoid the full force of her enthusiastic singing!  Strange but charming.  We could have sat there, when we first started coming to France forty years ago, and we would have seen and heard the same sights and sounds, and ordered the same drinks!  The French commitment to tradition can be frustrating when everything shuts down at inconvenient times, but it's also what we love as well.
A group of people were playing boules in the pitches opposite.  It was interesting to see that the average age of player was 20something, although one old fella was allowed to join in.  It's a great game to watch especially when a young guy gets all competitive and tries to knock the winning ball out of the way with a accurately launched drop!
Beer for Ian and a pastis for me, liquid aniseed balls which takes away the desire for sweet stuff afterwards!

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