Monday, April 20, 2015

Provence: Part 2

On day two we got our wish for mountainous terrain. We rode from St. Remy to Arles on hills so steep I had to dismount my bike and walk, panting, legs burning, eyes squinting in the sun and sweat, along the road. Again, we didn't see many other people for the most part. But at one point a car came by and its driver yelled at us to get out of the way. We were confused. On one hand we didn't actually know what the driver had yelled. We don't speak French. On the other hand, get out of the way for what? Then the freaking Tour de France whizzed by. OK, it wasn't actually the Tour de France, but it was a real deal professional bike race. Hoards of skinny men on skinny bikes came racing down the mountain at such a speed I was flabbergasted. (See below for photos.) This at least made us feel like we were the real deal, biking along a real bike route. And wishing we were back on the beginner trail...

We cruised by vineyards pre-mountainous terrain

Going... (so fast the riders look blurry)
Me, happy to be going downhill
Me, thrilled to be on even ground
All of our huffing and puffing was worth it, though. Not only did we get to take in incredible mountain views, we then happened upon the best restaurant we'd ever been to in our lives. This is not an exaggeration. Day two turned into the Best Day Ever when we stumbled upon Chez Franck & Flo. 

When we arrived on flat terrain our number one priority became foraging for food. We'd already eaten the melted chocolate croissants from my backpack (You're welcome, Justin!) and we needed a restaurant, stat. Chez Franck & Flo appeared blurry in the distance, like a mirage of flowing water fountains in the dessert. We could see well-dressed patrons dining at picnic tables and sipping wine. We knew we wouldn't fit in in our bike garb, but we wanted in anyway. The staff warmly welcomed us despite our sweaty helmet heads and dusty spandex. The restaurant was full of families and friends sharing a Sunday afternoon meal and there was a celebratory feel in the air. One large group even celebrated a birthday. The restaurant served a buffet of delicious fresh seafood, pastas, meats, cheeses, breads and desserts. Best of all, we were the only Americans, let alone tourists. We felt like we were experiencing an authentic French-Countryside-Sunday-Afternoon. Everyone around us seemed so at ease and content. At one point the restaurant owner sat outside peeling some sort of vegetable or nut. (Not native to New Yorkers) Restaurant-goers took turns sidling up to the peeler and paying their respects, chatting and laughing. It was the loveliest afternoon, ever. 

Celebration at Chez Franck & Flo
My handsome lunch date
After lunch we rode, bellies full and bodies exhausted but spirits high, to Arles. Arles, unlike our lunch pitstop, was the lowlight of the trip. Maybe we didn't "do it right" but the town felt cold and touristy, the worst possible combo. Plus, our "hotel" was, for lack of better terminology, icky. We walked along the Arles amphitheater to dinner and ate alfresco, which was very nice, until a cat sidled up next to me. I got up and ran from our table. I was terrified. Our walk back to the hotel was also kind of scary. There were very few people out and about. I was reminded of our entrance to the city earlier that evening; we must've entered through a neglected area. But at least we were seeing authentic Arles. Once safely inside our humble hotel we rested up before a bright and early departure the following AM.

No comments:

Post a Comment


design + development by kelly christine studio