Cyril and I spent the past weekend in the south of France, near Montpelier, visiting his family and enjoying the great outdoors. The weather contrasted dramatically with Paris. On Wednesday I surrendered to winter and wore my heavy coat for the first time, but in south, we ate breakfast outside and biked in t-shirts.
The distance from Paris to Montpelier is about 60 miles more than the distance from Minneapolis to Chicago but it is easier to go from Paris to Montpelier because there are many high speed trains that make the trip in less than 4 hours. It would take 7 hours to drive there. Taking a train is less tiring than driving, and less expensive, less stressful, and more comfortable than flying so it is a pretty nice way to travel.
Cyril has a lovely family. I always enjoy spending time with them, but this weekend was even better now that I can communicate with them without a translator (most of the time). It was gratifying to see that the drawing I made for them during my very first visit over three years ago was still on their entryway table.
Cyril’s stepdad Pascal dotes on Dina. He likes to joke that she is his favorite child.
Our decision for what to do Friday was influenced by a movie that I had watched last week, called Avis de Mistral. Two of the characters run away and go camping and horseback riding in a huge river delta area called the Camargue.
The road into the Camargue was lined with stables and pastures of white horses for rent. It was very tempting. I am sure there is no better way to see the delta. It would be incredible to explore and splash through the ponds and marshes on horseback. I have added it to my to do list when I have more money to burn.
Cyril and I rode our bikes to the Gacholle lighthouse and back, along the southern side of the nature preserve near the Mediterranean Sea. The land on either side of the trail was very flat with shallow ponds surrounding by low scrubby plants and grasses. It was gorgeous! The colors of the grasses and lichens were spectacular.
There were so many birds! The delta is known for them, along with packs of wild horses, but I wasn’t lucky enough to see any horses. I enjoyed watching the packs of flamingos the most. It was the first time I had ever seen any in the wild. Flamingos are funny birds when you really look closely. Their knees bend the opposite way and their necks are truly bizarre.
At times, the mosquitoes put northern Minnesota to shame. I was so thankful to be on a bike, because with a little bit of speed, they didn’t attack. As we passed a particularly marshy area, I could see pillars of mosquitoes rising from the grasses like mist. It was a terrifying and awe-inspiring sight. The power of nature!
That night, Cyril’s grandparents came over and his grandma made supper. I asked Cyril, “Do you know what she is going to make?” “Too much food!” Grandmas are the best:)
Sunday for lunch we ate raw oysters. Another first for me. They were so fresh that they recoiled a little bit when one poked them with a knife. Not my favorite seafood, but I ate my fair share.
Before leaving, Cyril and I visited his dad and played soccer with his brothers Clement and Vincent. I played soccer for 7 years in elementary school but I was the weakest link. If Sacha, Cyril’s 9 year old brother, had been there I would have had a worthy opponent.
à la prochaine!