I’m pretty sure I’m the only cyclist leaving France in July but my time in the Ardeche has come to an end. My experience in France wouldn’t be complete, however, without last week’s dinner party. From escargot to macaroons, it was a French affair from start to finish and a great way to say au revoir to the Ardeche.
As the only non-bilingual person at dinner, I spent the majority of the evening lost in translation, catching only the odd drift of conversation while smiling along, but the moment that solidified the friendship was the reinactment of the old lady who lives in our town. Famous for peeking through open windows and endless meaningless chat about the weather, apparently nosy neighbours are an experience that transcends the language barrier.
The snails, on the other hand, were an experience that didn’t translate too well. Perhaps my typically vegetarian diet did not prepare my tongue for such a rubbery experience but I prefer pain au chocolat when it comes to famous French food. The next morning I ventured out into the farm lands for a base run and I can tell you that snails do not make great training fuel, a lesson I never thought I would have to learn.
After a few more rides through the Ardeche Gorge, a few more runs in the farm lands, and a few more pain au chocolats, I was packed and ready to leave Sauveplantade, or “Swamp-plante” as our home town became affectionally known. France to me is still cycling, snails, baguettes, and the Eiffel tower but now it’s also the cellar apartment I called home with the world’s smallest kitchen, my battle with the Col du Meyrand, afternoons picnicking on the Ibie river, and the rickety blue Fiat Panda team car. Au revoir Ardeche.