It rained through the night and until 10am in the morning, so it took us a while to dry everything and get going. Hmmm, I see a pattern emerging...
Back on the wet and windy road, I admit it is better than 40 plus degrees, we cycle through some beautiful towns, in fact they all look so picturesque that Shanna keeps wondering that they must have all been a feature of the Tour de France.
First Levier, then Villeneuve d'Amont, next was Cernans when following this we toured Salins Les-Bains, a place you should definitely see before you die, after which we routed Mouchard (its food stores at least), followed by Villers-Farlay where we tasted some exquisite fromage de chevre.
It was raining at this point, we had lunch, bought from the Super Marche and cooked in our pot, curry with rice along with a still warm fresh and crusty bread stick. Next was Ounans, followed by Mont Vaudrey. Stomachs feeling sad and sorry we ran off into the woods, where we saw a deer, who looked at us, cautiously, and then suddenly ran off, startled cries ringing through the trees to alert his brothers of the crazy Aussies soiling the forest.
The deer spurred us onwards to Le Deschaux, where we found a fantastic camp spot by a river. In desperate need of a wash it wasn't long before we were frollicking naked in the cold water... Ah, I meant bathing discreetly in our cycling clothes to wash the sweat... no mosquitoes all evening (priceless!!), we fell asleep quickly in the tent and didn't wake up for almost 11 hours.
After riding hard through the wind for what felt like weeks, although it was only two days, plus the accumulating effects of the week hiking mountains in Switzerland, our legs were tired and so were we. It was time to take it easy.
We didn't ride far, and much of the afternoon was spent using the free wifi at McDonalds... All part of our cycling experience - taking whatever opportunity we can to access free internet and update this website (as well as research our route and how to get into Paris!)
In the evening we went a short distance and camped in a huge empty field outside the hamlet of Chaffois.
At night the sound of cow bells woke me, and I fell back asleep dreaming of Sam cutting off a goat's head to stop the bell ringing, and a farmer calling for his goat that would never return home...
Sometime in the afternoon we left Suisse and cycled into France. I haven't seen it yet but I get the impression, the feeling that Melbourne or Sydney could, quite possibly after a prolonged period of involution in the European chrysalis, come to resemble Paris or Rome, but I'm guessing it would take a long time. Longer than I've got anyway.
It's odd, being in France, having thought on, and about the place for so long, to be finally here, cycling up a mountain, observing the arbitrary splendor, the archaic beauty, and yet being observed by everyone, white blonde hair, scruffy beard. A detached observer who remains affianced as a human participant.
Trying to fathom what it is about France that continues to capture global hearts and minds, the country of course being the most visited realm in the world with over 80 million visitors per year, I can understand now that I/we are here. For many it must be Paris, the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, the Arc de Triomphe, for others the countryside, the castles, the architecture and history, yet still others the roads, the Tour de France, or the food, the cuisine, and then there might be those with romantic ideals of romance and old world chivalry, hopeful for love.
But for me, it's the sages, the God's of the literary world that for so many years have formed portraits in my mind that obtuse mortals like me can only dream of ever replicating.
Riding along, Shanna just behind me, these thoughts proliferate in my mind, as for a game, not out of boredom but rather to help ignore the pain in my legs and forget the ache in my stomach I try to remember some of them, but there are so many, and I'm soon confused amidst a world of names, philosophies, centuries and ideologies.
Roland Barthes, Emile Zola, Claude Levi-Strauss, Stendhal, Truffault, Sartre, Derrida, Camus, Balzac, Baudelaire, Maupassant, George Sand, Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Delacroix, Hugo, Godard, Dumas, Gautier, Flaubert, the Goncourt brothers, Daudet, Mallarme. Verlaine, Rimbaud, Gide, Proust, Fournier, Foucault and Rivette.
Maybe you've heard of a few of these, if not I'll happily keep them to myself.
Oh and France was cold, really cold, but the food was deliciously cheap- this combination of words probably makes more sense to a touring cyclist...
When we found a Super Mache, just over the border we couldn't believe our eyes, we were expecting high prices, but I think, after studying the isles for an hour or so, and buying so much food, cakes, creme aux oeufs, riz au lait, fresh bread, chorizo, fruit, juice and yoghurt that I can probably say food is even cheaper here than what it is in Australia. If was Suisse maybe I'd do cross the border with a van every month or so...
Excitedly that night we had our first meal in a French restaurant. A contrasting affair of both great and bad. It wasn't what we expected, but maybe the beauty of traveling is that nothing ever is.
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia