Vif lies in the Alps, just a few kilometers from Grenoble, the flattest city of France, surrounded by one of the most magnificent mountain range in the world. As we rode into the village of Vif the day prior to this amazing ride, I stopped to ask for direction since GP (that’s how Jackie named the Zumo, everything and everybody’s got a name for this adventure), was slightly confused, due to major construction been done on the streets:
“ I am not lost, just recalculating” says GP.
At that very moment, a pleasant and smiling, friendly teenage girl walks up to us and says: “bonjour c’est Eloise”.
Eloïse? I replied, how is that possible?
She was maybe 4 or 5 last time I saw her. Serendipity had struck again, one of the daughters of our friends surely had an excellent sense of timing.
Jackie stepped off ST, received a warm embrace, and both of them slowly guided me home through the narrow streets of the village of Vif.
The night coming back from our fantastic ride, we had a great meal together, feasted on a stew of crayfish and chicken, a side-dish of Gratin Dauphinois, a sampling of local cheeses, and a home made strawberry tart for desert.
Resonating from the stereo speakers’, Mano Negra, and Manu Chao kept us entertained.
If my memory serves me right, there might have been a copious amount of wine involved. On that topic, I have been trying to keep track, and I think this is where we stand so far:
Chalancé, une epoisse affinée au marc de Bourgogne.
Cancouillotte du Franc Conté.
Petit Livarot de Pays d’Auge.
Morbier du Juras
Munster Cumin-Carvi, production locale.
Bleu Brest du Juras
Bleu de Sassnage.
Chêvre sec et Chêvre crémeux du Vercors.
Carré à la Sauge produits du Diois.
Cantal, region d’Ardèche.
And Wines (those are the ones I could remember)
Clairette de Die.
Cerdon Rosé, du Bugey region Bourg en Bresse.
Crémant production Mousseux local.
Gewitztraminer Grand Cru 1974.
Rosé Pinot Noir.
Chateau Neuf du Pape.
Although Viviane (our host), and I have only met but a few times, we are deeply bonded to each other. To understand this bond, you need to know that as the war was raging through Europe, both our grandmothers Simone and Liliane already friends for quite some time would give birth to two girls. As the war ended the daughters would become equally close growing up in the sleepy village of Les Essars le Roi, no to far from Paris.
They in turn would each have their first child named Viviane and René, (aka Valentino), this time born countries apart.
To add a little twist to this story, consider that I married a women named Liliane (aka Jackie), who bare the same name as my Grand Mother’s best friend, and my brother married a women who bares the same name as my friend Viviane.
Hope I didn't confuse anybody, needless to say that if you ask me if I was really surprise to see Eloïse show up just at the right place, just at the right time, I would have to say no...
Seems like names and serendipity really want to be playing their part in this trip, I like it.
Sunday,our ride through the twisty was our warmest day yet 25C. Monday we rested, and as it should, it rained for most of the day.
The plan was to cover the 1000 km to Biarritz on the Atlantic coast in two sleeps. Stop around Millau to go see the viaduct then another stop when we would start seeing some palm threes (loosely following El Camino de Compostela
). After all this is not the European edition of Iron Butt, we were just starting to get into a rhythm, just realizing that we did not need to be at work anytime soon, so why rush it.
Something like this
We Left around 10:00 this morning, heading South South-West once again, direction Valence,le Puy-En-Venay, l’Ardèche et le Cantal, destination Aurillac. As we raced through the elevated plateaux of the massif central, ACDC’s thundering drums and squealing guitars kept my adrenaline level in check.
Far far to the West I could see white peaks, could it be the Pyrenees already taunting us with the promise of Spain looming close.
A few random pics
Then Rush’s Red Barchetta came on, and I opened up the throttle, ST responded with a roar to the screeches of Geddie Lee’s voice. Indeed life was good.
We stopped in Murat for a well deserve sugar and caffein fix.
It was pretty cold, and it was about to get wet, we just didn’t know it yet.
Hum it all looks good what should I get?
I'll take a bit of everything please.
When Jackie is happy so then is Valentino
By the time we reached the village of Estaing, we were wet cold and ready to call it a day.
This is one of the oldest best-preserve village in France, despite the cold rain, we couldn't resist taken ST for a bit of sightseeing.
The narrow streets
And a couple more
There was about 60 km to Aurillac and that would be enough. Since our intention was to avoid the superslab as much as possible, and I kept our speed in check through the many small villages, we ended up covering, less ground than we had planned.
I also forgot my heavy gloves in Vif, so needless to say that my mesh gloves did not do much too protect my hands from the cold rain.
Tonight we would spend the night in the very small village of Giou de Mamou at the house of Michèle and Alain Lafon a quaint B&B just 4 km from Aurillac, the heart of le Cantal and the umbrella capital of France.
Next pit stop would have to involve a palm three...