September 6, 2015


Love it, hate it, or be that rare indifferent resident, Winter 2015 in New England was unremittingly cold, long and snowy. Roofs leaked, driveways became impassable, dispositions soured and tempers frayed. By February, after spending every sngle weekend shoveling the snow off my roof, I knew it was too much for me and I knew that I needed to get away. Away for me, as all my readers know, is to France. ASAP. For any number of good reasons though, I couldn't leave until April.

For the past six years, since my first trip in 2009, my bike journeys have provided a structure for both my trips and my days. They have determined daily goals, they have tethered me to a plan. I have had a starting point and a finishing point, 500, or 700 or 1000 miles distant from the start.

This time, though, I wanted to experience an unplanned, well honestly a less planned, visit, to experience more time in one place. To not be always moving on.

Many people, friends, relatives, colleagues, readers, ask me if I am going to move to France. Now there is a good question, one yet without a definitive answer. Mostly, for me at this stage, my life is without definitive answers, which is not such a bad thing.

I wanted to stay put a little, to experience a major city, a smaller city and a village for a week. A week in each place simply because my vacaion is limited by three weeks. I definitely wanted to be warm, far away from New England's winter ... and its fickle, often cold and icy, spring. I wanted to see again the beautiful tmptress named the Mediterranean. I wanted to enjoy long, rambling rides in the countryside. I love the French notion of flaner, to be a flaneur. I wanted to wander by bike, to observe, experience, think...without specific daily goals.

I also wanted to climb, to ride uphill. Don't ask me why, I am so painfully slow. But the success is so very sweet. The high cols and summits are another world altogether, and a delicious one. I discovered this feeling of exhilaration, perhaps of transcendence, after long climbs, 45 years ago, hiking in the American and Canadian west, and the feeling stays with me by bike in France.

So I chose Montpellier, Arles and Bedoin. Montpellier, 7th largest city in France, young in history, dating from the 11th century, and young in age, with major universities and many students. Arles, on the Rhone, a much older, much smaller city. A Greek and Roman city, it is a major tourist destination ... but not so much in April. And Bedoin, a village located on the foot of Mont Ventoux. The climb from Bedoin is call the most challenging route to the top of the mountain.

The posts that follow are from those three wonderful weeks.

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