When biking in a foreign country, the first thing that comes to mind is enjoying the scenery. However, it is even more gratifying to speak to the local people. This is where the advantage of bicycling over every other form of transportation comes into play. While biking, it is so easy to enjoy every small detail along the way.
For example, I completed two bicycle tours in France. I did have a great advantage in that I’m able to speak fluent French. In the small towns and villages, one can always find a small plaque, usually near the city hall, honoring either a war hero, an author or a known politician. It could be a monument usually surrounded by a garden of flowers. Other sights could be the large fields of sunflowers which is beautiful to behold. Even more captivating are the very old castles that are throughout the country. Some are still used and others are simply monuments to the past to be admired. Of course one can’t help but to marvel at all the old houses with orange tile roofs.
When biking through any town or village, it it always easy to find a deli. You will find it filled with a cornucopia of delights. There’ll be a large choice of meats, cheeses, pates and quiches. When combining them with the fresh baked bread and the Dijon type mustard, I find it to be one of the best lunches any one can find. Put it all in a basket and then find a delightful spot near a stream, a park or even a scenic town square.
When ready for dinner, with proper planning, one can find many Michelin starred restaurants in small villages throughout France. However if that’s not feasible, most of the restaurants will usually surprise you with the high quality and deliciousness of the food.
Another delight is biking through Burgundy. Just looking at the vineyards is spectacular. When you enter a winery to partake of a wine tasting with the bread and cheese that’s offered: what could be better? My favorite was the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape with its many wineries with the superb wines of the region. In the city of Beaune for example a visit to how the wine is stored is spectacular: thousands of barrels of wine in the wine cellars.
Another beautiful ride is through Provence. A highlight in this area are the beautiful fields of flowers which very often end up in the perfumes of France. Of course one cannot overlook the famous bridge of Avignon for which there is a song named after it. Then there are the past quarters of the Popes who resided there and brings you back to medieval times. My ride ended on the Riviera which is well-known world wide. Bicycling along the Mediterranean and visiting Cannes and Nice and seeing their beaches, beautiful hotels and many yachts is a sight to behold. After biking in many areas of the United States, which I found spectacular, it is a complete change of scenery in France.