April 22, 2015

Pic St. Loup

Today was perfect. I've realized (yes, again) that all energy comes from the sun, and all happiness comes from energy. The sun was shining, and I rode to Pic St. Loup, north of Montpellier, feeling pretty good.

The route leaving the city was easy to follow, almost always using bike lanes, either separate  or designated. I didn't get lost at all, unusual in an unfamiliar city.


Riding along, through a typical French alley of plane trees (sycamores at home) a crow, I believed, flew into a hole. Didn't realize crows nested in trees .... and quickly thought: stop! I am in no hurry .... my goal (besides Pic St. Loup) is to enjoy being a flaneur, by bike. And there I stopped, and waited. Many of the trees seemed to have resident birds, very crowlike, though with heads browner than our crows. The babies must have hatched.


Fields were brilliantly yellow with blooming rapeseed, for canola oil.


From time to time at home people complain to me about bikes, and cyclists on roads. Generally, the attitude is so different here. A good part of my route used this road, divided into 3 lanes: one northbound for cyclists, one for cars, and one southbound for cyclists. In total, the cars and the bikes are allotted about equal parts of the roads. Yes, the car section is wide enough for one vehicle at a time.

  

Lunch was cheese, bread and fruit on the side of the River Lez, in Les Matelles, a beautiful medieval village near Pic St. Loup. From there I traveled very small roads, sometimes gravelly chemins, around the ridge to the east before starting up. I hadn't been worried about the climb, but these are my first outdoor rides this year, my only training has been 8 weeks of only 7 hours a week, 7 very intense hours, and my last real climb was up to the corniche above Nice.


There were many cyclists, of all sorts, out for a spin.


Pic St. Loup is a long, rocky ridge, dominating the plain around it and visible for miles and miles. Road bikes skirt the side of the mountain, a foot trail goes to the top. It turned out that only one short section of the road was reasonably steep, the climb was generally lovely, and before long the road levelled out and descended the other side.


Back in centre ville, the old city of Montpellier, the sound of jazz caught my ear. The quartet was competent, pretty good actually, playing tunes from the songbook of jazz standards. I stopped, listened and watched the crowd for 45 minutes or so, before buying a cd and returning to the apartment.

A perfect day in sunny southern France.




14 comments:

  1. Hi Susan. Pic St Loup, I've always wanted to go, although that was more to try the local wine than to ride. And I do agree that drivers' attitudes towards bikes is so completely different here. I think it helps that bikes are seen *not* just as a hobby, but also as a legit means of getting from point A to B. But I must say, the route you took must be is the most generous bike path allocation I've ever seen in France! Sarah

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    1. Why, now you mentioned it, I have tasted that local wine, and it is good! Just found two small books about the culture of bicycling and its place in imagination here. Hopefully they will be as interesting as they will surely be slow going for me with my mediocre French.

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  2. Beautiful photos and looks so relaxing too. Perhaps a future family trip with Frank :-)

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    1. Hello Georgie, glad to know you're there. Yes, it is relaxing, beautiful, very good riding ... and close enough to you that it might not be grueling getting here

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  3. Beautiful post. I must try those roads someday myself ;-)

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    1. Hah Hah! Silly me, I believed it was your route I followed .... and again today to Ambrussom;-)

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  4. Not crows, but in the crow family--Western Jackdaws, from what I can tell. You know, you're building up a very nice life list without really trying!

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    1. Today I saw so many .... they love plane trees. I was going to guess grey-headed blackbird. Will go for jackdaws after I search an image. Not a bird photo at all the last 2 days:-( Will have to try harder tomorrow.

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    2. Gray-headed Blackbird not in your area according to my book. What cinched it for me is that jackdaws nest in tree holes, again, according to my field guide.

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    3. I invented the name grey-headed blackbird .... had no idea such a bird actually existed ! I'm good with jackdaws, looked them up last night.

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  5. Love the pic of Les Matelles. And obtw - snow showers all day yesterday, and, oh, all morning today as well...!

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    1. Someone will need to speak with whomever is in charge of the weather there... it sounds completely inexcusable!

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  6. I like the division of the road very much. The French jackdaws look very like ours. They have beady eyes.

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    1. Hi! I just saw this, while putting a table of contents together. Your jackdaws and those French fellows must be cousins. None of them emigrated here.

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