So I met this guy on the internet…
No, that doesn’t quite work, even if it’s true.
The other day, a guy named John contacted me after reading the blog. He lives near Nimes and had been hankering to get out on his bike for the past couple months. After doing a Google background check on him and thinking he seemed harmless enough (true to a point, as we’ll see soon), we set up a day (Sunday) and I took the train up to Nimes, promptly making my first mistake of the day.
John recommended a route to get to his village, which took in a part of the voie verte between Nimes and Sommieres. Well, I’d ridden that stretch already and I saw a little road on Google Maps that looked promising, even cutting off a couple km in the process. John said it was more suited to mountain bikes, so I was forewarned. And of course it was. Promisingly paved for the first bit, the chemin (never trust a road with that word in its name in France) quickly turned into a rutty, rock-strewn obstacle course filled with little muddy ponds (we recently had a rare two-day stretch of rain) that made any gains I thought I was making mute.
Then, after a couple km of this I ran into this crowd.
Turns out there was a trail running race of some sort on my road and, after waiting for a few minutes, I figured out it was nowhere near ending. So, there I was, riding along these runners, dodging boulders and potholes, and even shaming myself in the process by falling behind!
But that ended quickly enough when they took a left turn and I kept on going straight. I found John in the center of his village, dropped off my pannier full of civilian clothes, and headed out of town on one of John’s regular rides. The wind was at our back for the first half, so no pictures at all, I’m afraid. This one was around the point we turned north again and thought it justified a shot. It is a sign for motorists, cautioning them that this road is a ‘shared’ road, between cars and bicycles that is. I am not sure if I have ever seen anything exactly like this, but it seems like a good enough idea, although I’m not sure if the rules of these roads could be any different from regular ones. Anyway, it was Sunday and traffic was light, so it was essentially a non-issue for us.
This next one is yet another example of the poor quality of my camera. In the foreground are some marshes, inhabited by bulls by the way. In the distance is Pic St Loup on the left, and farther off, the snow-topped peaks of Les Cevennes.
We were in the Camargue, the huge delta of the Rhone river, which is home to a typical type of horse, also called Camargue. Well, these three aren’t those, but since they are white (like Camargue horses) they must be some kind of cross. Both John and agreed that they looked a bit like Clydesdales, but considering the size differential between the two types of horses, successful breeding seems unlikely…or at the very least a physical challenge!
The next photo is of the Chateau de Aubais, the last picture from our ride. Why? Shortly after this I had a ‘bonk’, which I’ll blame on insufficient number of croissants for breakfast, but more likely because of my inability to hold the wheel of John – quite disturbing considering he hadn’t ridden since November!
When we got back to John’s place I was treated to a lovely lunch, accompanied by his wife Marie-Laure, who was very kind to wait for us, seeing we were 2 hours late.
John and Marie-Laure (and Mia and Cloe) live in an old grange, which was once part of the adjacent farm. They showed me pictures of what it was they bought, and what it looked like to me was 3 walls and possibly a floor! This is what they’ve transformed that mess into, after 2 years of hard work.
Starting with the kitchen / living room…
OK, that last one might have been downstairs…and finally out to their courtyard / pool.
Looks nice? Would like one for yourself? Well, you’re in luck. Marie-Laure happens to be an interior designer, and an excellent one at that. Here’s her website.