Saturday, October 14, 2006

Getting Organized and Oriented

This is downtown Lourmarin. It is a maze of winding stone roads with surprises around every corner.
This is the view from our roof terrace at sunset. Isn't it amazing?

We thought we were home free when we arrived in Marseille and so did all our luggage. I tried my French out on a maintenance man to find a bathroom and was successful. We rented our bright red Renault Kangoo, a car about as tall as it is long – the perfect shape to haul 4 bicycles.

But then we struggled with the badly marked French roads for what seemed like hours to go the relatively short distance from Marseille to Lourmarin. We had a few harrowing moments on two-way roads which were barely wide enough for one car. We ended up on one dead-end road. Part of he problem was knowing which spoke off the numerous circles to take. Made me feel sorry for the tourists in DC doing the same thing. (It was a Frenchman who designed our city.)

Things got remarkably better as we rolled into Lourmarin and parked the Kangoo. Our “landlady” for two weeks, Francoise, showed us to the most amazing place, with its origins in the 17th century. It has beautiful exposed wood beams, a labyrinth of rooms with doors leading off to who knows where, and a rooftop terrace from which to watch the sun rise and set.

We were all feeling fairly wiped out by this point, so we collapsed in an outdoor café to get refueled before going to pick up the bicycles. Lunch turned out to be a mixture of salads, cheeses, grilled meats and vegetables, and of course French bread with aromatic olive oil. The French haven’t gotten the word about low-carb diets.

Philippe, the bike guy in the next town over, managed to load 4 beautiful Cannondale bikes into and onto the Kangoo. We were fine until we tried to drive to our place to unload them and virtually got stuck in a narrow part of the curving stone road. All the locals came out to tell us it was just too narrow in a variety of French and hand gestures, which probably included “those stupid Americans.” We eventually unloaded the bikes and walked them the rest of the way, deposited the little Kangoo in the car park, and collapsed after a long day and very little sleep in the past 24 hours.

I hope we wake up refreshed tomorrow and are able to relax into our new routine in what has to be one of the prettiest places in the world. I am sure tomorrow’s activities will include a long bike ride in the French countryside.

Kris has the last word on our first day as she reads from Rick Steve’s guide book: “Louberon roads are scenic and narrow and it is easy to get lost. But getting lost is the point.”


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I just love your travel logs! And you have Rick Steve, so you'll be just fine.

Try if you have trouble posting pics. The one today is gorgeous!! Wish I were there.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

What a beautiful place - and a great first post. Wish I was on bicycle #5!

6:57 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

So far so good! Hope you have a good sleep. Food sounds good to me! Go for the're on holidays!

11:09 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

You are going to need the carbs for all the biking and walking you are doing.

12:03 AM  

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