When we plan a journey...we think bicycles. When we think cycling...we think France. No where else have we experienced such courtesy and love for the self-powered traveler. Another reality that sets France apart from other european countries we've ridden in, is the road network that spiders throughout the countryside...impeccably maintained and every one of them leading to magical experiences, stunning views and time zones long forgotten. "Our land is our art," revealed one of our campground/ fruitstand hostesses. The French are proud people...proud of their agriculture, proud of their politics and most proud of their scenery.
The villages in rural France strive to win awards for best kept streets, parks, visitor information centers and floral displays. When we pick a camping spot each day, during our September/ October visits, the campground hosts are relaxed and relieved to have survived another busy summer season.
The hosts are generous beyond belief...often-times bringing us a bottle of local wine and/or part of the local fruit/ vegetable harvest to enjoy at our campsite. They keep at least one shower/ sanitaire open and are quick to tell us about our hiking/ biking and swimming options nearby. Outdoor showers and laundry hanging are always acceptable.
Once we set up our tent and lock our rental vehicle, we can always be assured that our belongings will be secure and in the same state we left them. During a two hour ride through the hills of France we often see other cyclists and there is never any doubt that they will acknowledge you and want to converse.
We are planning a fifth bicycle excursion to France, once again focusing on the South of France. As long as we are capable of climbing the numerous "cols" and "ports" we are excited to do so. As we get on in years we may have to focus on the flatter roads to the North of France. The hospitality and incredible diversity of scenery encountered each and every time we vacation on bicycles in France causes us to happily spend our modest savings mingling with the citizens of this amazing country.