Friday, June 21, 2013

Wet Wayfaring Fools, France

Why am I writing and not out pedalling around the French countryside?  Because it's raining and cold, about 15 degrees. We've even had the heater on. Don't think we've had to do that on a previous SUMMER holiday in France. It's quite bleak. But there's no point in complaining about weather. The inside of our van is cosy and it's quite peaceful with the pittering of rain on the skylight.

Wasn't too bad for a couple of hours this morning. Took our 'new' bikes out for a spin and got that incredible feeling which I'd describe as smug incredulity.

As I said, we're in Montignac, Aquitaine. It's very picturesque; 10th century castle on the hillside; winding lanes between stone houses. Gorgeous. We came here because the campground, situated on a river in the grounds of a 17th century mill, sounded nice.

As we were eating our lunch today - me, confit duck; Al, duck cassoulet - we were remarking on the masses of tourists. Must have come in on buses, we said. Kept looking at an advertisement over at the office de tourisme. Lascaux, we were saying. Sounds familiar. Hmm. 

Perhaps it's one of the places I read about when I was studying French, I said.

Kept eating.

I'm sure I've heard about this place, said Al, forking a few more of his beans. Something about cave paintings?

Let's check out the tourist office later, we decided.

So, Al and I, wayfaring fools that we are, have stumbled into a place visited by about 250,000 people a year, yet we had no concept of the big deal.

It's only a UNESCO world heritage site due to the replica of caves containing 17,000 year old rock paintings.

Amazing. Call me an ignoramus, but I couldn't be bothered shuffling through with thousands of other tourists. 

Tomorrow, after a five hour drive, Saumur and fête du vélo - cycling festival - d'Anjou. And more rain.

Glad we brought the wet weather gear.

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