Joie de vivre: Joy/happiness derived from life. Travelled 2013
Travelling Europe is not about struggling with motorcycles through soft sand like we did in Africa. Europe is an easy and very comfortable adventure. What Europe offers instead is an incredible rich history, architecture and diverse
Arriving back in Europe a little late in the summer, or really early winter, we high-tailed it from Ulm to The Netherlands to watch a Pink Floyd show with our Dutch friends and some friends from SA. From there we rushed through Belgium, had a quick stop in Paris to ‘dry out’ and took the quickest route to the coast.
We headed to Fontainebleau, just South of Paris, to do a bit of business and like the year before found it such a beautiful town. The forest around Fontainebleau and the Palace of Fontainebleau (one of many homes of Marie Antoinette) with its beautifully kept grounds makes it a worthwhile trip indeed. Not at all the images we have as South Africans of an over populated Europe.
It seemed like our bikes were slightly faster than the rainy cloud that followed us, because as soon as we reached a destination, shortly afterwards it rained. Yet, the road we took heading straight west to the coast took us through scenic farmlands and gorgeous little villages.
Camping in France is great – we were unfortunately a bit late for camping season so most establishments were closed, but those we found open were well run and clean. What we liked most about our travels in this area was the beautiful green forests – we generally stay off the main roads and found it heaven for cyclists, hikers and campers. It is easy and safe to wild camp most places in France.
Our first stop next to the French coastline was at Mont-Saint-Michel, an 11th century abbey on a rocky island. The farmland landscape around Mont-Saint-Michel makes for interesting venues and great local eats and shopping. We stayed at a campsite on a farm and were quickly offered the use of an open barn to protect us against most of the rain and wind. The view over to Mont-Saint Michel reminds of late middle ages and really takes you back to those times.
We end up at La Rochelle to celebrate Michnus’ birthday with freshly caught oysters and copious amounts of local beer. La Rochelle is a must stop – we just loved the old harbour, all the seafood restaurants and the little shopping streets. La Rochelle although a bit touristy seems to attract a lot of the snooty nose in the air yacht owners. Well how else they are the pillars of society and need to show their importance. It’s all quite fun walking around with our rags rubbing shoulders at larny cafe’s with the blue and white stripe sailors.
It’s getting chilly, taking some espresso and whiskey stops regularly to heat up the hands.