My experiences are outpacing my ability to analyze them. Today I escaped a rain storm by taking refuge at this cafe in the smallest town, St Pierre, somewhere an hour north of Tours, and when I sat down I had so much to write in my journal that I couldn’t start.
I’d just come north on a small highway until I veered off to wander through hill towns, these wet stone villages resting around churches between hills. The churches are ancient, some go back to the 10th century, and their stone walls are melting from the generations of rain. Leaving the town you go up on top of the hills where there are fields that feed the towns (and probably the cities, now), then back down into another wet valley with its stone village.
There are chateaux everywhere – at one point I stopped and took this video of a bend in the road where there were three chateaux within sight, and wasn’t a noteworthy spot, not even a mark on the map. Each is unique, they’re all beautiful, they’re all enormous. But they’re built for the rich, too, and down the road in the valleys where people live next to streams there are small patches of dirt turned into neat vegetable gardens, all leafy greens and onion stalks at this time of year, but mostly dirt. I prefer this version of wealth – vegetables and dirt… but chateaux make for better pictures.
In the village of Marcon (cedilla) I ran into a bunch of school kids lined up to go back to class and we totally made each other’s days. They were excited to see a real scooter in their town with a foreign guy dressed in all black, while I was excited to see some real French school children like out of a romantic comedy. We all smiled and waved and yelled, “Au revoir! Au revoir!”
I was riding through a long stretch of cold woods when the rain started, and I bolted into the little cafe to find a fire just getting warm, I think they started it specifically for me to dry my gloves and coat. I told them I was hungry, and they served me even though they were stunned to find anyone wanted to eat after 2pm. They’re stuck in their ways, here, which protects the quality of life they’ve developed. I had chicken gizzards with potatoes & chives as a starter, then a tomato stuffed with spiced beef for the main. A cheese plate followed, and I had hot chocolate on either side of the meal.
The lady who owns the cafe told me about all these amazing little towns and archeological sites that were just beyond where we were, but it was 4 and the sun sets at 5:30, so I had to set off for Tours. But I reserved another night here at the hostel, and I’ll be back for Round 2 tomorrow.
I drove home while the sun sprayed orange light like water on the fields. When I finally got near Tours there was TRAFFIC (for most of the day I’d been alone on the road) but as a scooter in Europe I can pass all the cars to get to the front of stop lights or through traffic. On the last bridge into town I rode between two lanes all the way across the Loire, then pulled in front of a policeman (gendarmerie) to kinda test my luck, to see if what I did was legal. He didn’t give it a second look. I took a right up the bank and parked my scooter in front of the hostel.