Sunday, November 01, 2015

La Loire à Vélo

I can only describe it as I see it.

I went to rent a bike on Saturday morning.  On the way, I passed through the flower market across the middle of the wide boulevard.  Framed in the autumn brown leaves of the tall trees, the flower market stretch down the long boulevard in a cascasd of colors.

I was transported back to the spice markets of Mysore.

From Mysore

And the flower markets under the freeways of Taipei.

From Taipei Markets

The rows of rainbows were stunning.  Truly Roy G. Biv.

From Tours Weekend

A belt of color across the city.

I continued past the marvelous marble Hôtel de Ville with virtuous and vile statues staring down.

I made my way past the belle train station, stopping first at a briocherie.  The day prior, the line had been out the door.  The smells coming from the briocherie were pain intoxication.

Today the line was more manageable.  Inside there were giant brioche.  Crown brioches stuffed with chocolate.  On the wall, confitures jellied slowly and sweetly.  Abricot.  Figues. Cerise.

I got a small chocolate brioche but dreamed of wearing La Couronne.

I made my way to the bike shop.  It was 15 euros to rent the bike for the day, and I had to have it back by 7pm.  I made a good move to ask about taking the bike longer than a day.

-Oui Monsieur, we have two day rentals for 23 euros.


-But we are closed on Sunday and Monday, so you bring it back Tuesday morning

Vraiment? Jusqu'au mardi pour le prix de deux jours?

-Oui Monsieur, c'est bon prix, non?

Oui.  So I have the velo to bike around the Loire Valley until Tuesday.

The clerk handed me a pump and a kit to fix flat tires.  I asked about a helmet.

Il est pas obligatoire

I laughed.  When I was renting a bike in Boulder, they made me click a box if I was refusing a helmet.  I tried but my sister and the clerk vehemently insisted I take the head gear.

That is the difference between France and America--in France, they send you off with something to fix the bike but nothing to protect your cabeza; in America, they make sure the world is baby-proofed.

But I did opt for the helmet in the end.  I make a living with my fair tête, and having just watch the exploding of tossed melons, I could only imagine what would happen to my head if it broke my fall.

Puis, I biked out of the city, past the belle Opera House and the Musée des Beaux-Arts.  Through the medieval streets and out to La Rive Loire.

And into the autumn.  I can only describe what I saw but it was stunning.

Burnt orange.  Fire red.  Autumn amarillo (jaune).  Fall brown.  A soft vert.

At a crossroads, I stopped to write it all down.  I watched the birds fish in the river.

I listened to the silent flowing river and chirps of birds.

Across the river, a city of nameless white stood proud on the banks of river.  A tall white water tower dominated the scene, and next to it looked to be an old medieval tower.

Behind me, stretching green and brown autumn forest stood a double-steepled cathedral raised high across the blue-azure sky. I biked 12 km to the next town over, Mountlouis.  I biked through the quiet town, and down to the river.

It was there by the river that I found my Rosetta stone.  I had been searching for a book of French verbs.  Learning languages is all about learning patterns, and I didn't have enough of the patterns explained in my regular French book.  But my small Frommer's PhraseFinder had all I needed to see verbs in present and past.  Under a canopy of autumn leaves, I animatedly spoke to myself--or imagined others in French as the language finally opened up to me.

I stopped at a nearby restaurant, a nice creperie.  I asked the waiter for two words I did not recognize:

-dinde (turkey)
-gesiers (gizzards)

He explained, and left me a second English menu.  The Rosetta carte.  I sipped a Kir Breton (cidre, creme de casis) as I cross-referenced the menus, learning new words like guimauve (marshmallow).

The crepe came, and it was exquisite.  Since I am a ciboscribner, I will simply describe the deliciousness:

A savory buckwheat crepe filled with wild mushrooms, tomatoes and Émincé de dinde, cooked in smooth cream and garlic. A fresh salad on the side.  A glass of vin blanc from a nearby vineyard.  C'est magnifique.

After lunch, I began my 12km trek back.  I stopped to grab this scene that caught my eye.  If ever there was a juxtaposition of world.

From Tours Weekend

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