Current Location: Ancenis, Loire Valley, France
Total Distance: 463 kilometres
Longest Day: 84 Kilometres
Flat Tyres : One
Bottoms’ Status (perfect = 10): Judy 6.5, Mike 5
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NZ - FRENCH RELATIONS SINK TO LOW POINT
As kiwis, we’re used to noseying down roads where we probably have no business, but try it near Riaille at la Poiteviniere and you soon hear about.
We’d glimpsed the lake through the trees a couple of times, and encouraged by a welcome sign in four languages we set off down a narrow, muddy track that didn’t feel very public. We stopped at the lake’s edge where another sign said something in French about fishing and tickets and had photos of large fish being clutched by small, fat men.
Barely had we stopped than a vehicle could be heard approaching at speed, and moments later a battered white Renault staggered to a halt, its driver with an elbow out a window and a cigarette dangling from his lips.
|Cafe culture. We've settled into a routine - |
cycle an hour or two, then have a coffee stop.
Sensing what was coming, I decided to get in first with my impeccable French, “Bonjour Monsieur”, and got a torrent of heated French back at me. Whoops, apparently the he was a she and she wasn’t impressed. Well, b…. me, she had me fooled. Let’s face it, everyone wears studs all over their bodies these days.
Judy returned at this stage from a short walk to the jetty, and we made a hasty retreat. The lesson – in France, signs don’t always mean what they say.
Just down the road at Rialle we were back on familiar ground. We swept into town, Judy’s All Black flag billowing in the breeze and the residents descending on us – one of them extolling the virtues of Manuka honey for helping ease his congestion.
And on the way out of town, the politeness was embarrassing.
As we came to a four-way intersection I was confronted by the classic who-gives-way-to-who problem, and tried to apply the old NZ rule about left turning traffic giving way to those turning right. Then updated it to take account of the recent law change back home, then tried to factor in that we were on the right side of the road and what were the French rules anyway? We screeched to a halt (the brakes haven’t finished bedding in yet and make enough noise to wake the dead). I lost my balance, the bike started to fall and Judy just managed to catch it.
The driver waiting to turn into our path smiled kindly. I indicated she might like to go first while we untangled ourselves. “Non, non”, she smiled back.” I’ll wait. I have all day and it may be the siesta but my lover won’t mind being kept waiting.”
I tried to persuade her again, knowing Judy still had to get back onto the bike and co-ordinating our starts under pressure can be tricky. “Non, non,” she insisted. ”It is highly entertaining, and how are your private parts - you seem to be doubled over in pain?”Oh well, this is France and politeness is a virtue.