I meant to post an account of this last week, but Real Life got in the way. So, belatedly (and separately from the Cat Photos) here is an account of our trip to St Affrique. Although I’m not a Cyclo, partners & friends were allowed as well. Mr D and our friend S, who has a second home here, ride with the Club, so C & I tagged along. And great fun was had by all.
We left St Just at 6.00 am – we’d been told that the coach would leave then, whether everyone was there or not, so we made sure we arrived in plenty of time, so that we could kiss everyone! And contrary to my cynical comments, the bus left very promptly at 6.00. We paused at 8.30 for breakfast, at the Aire overlooking a viaduct designed by Gustave Eiffel – le viaduc de Garabit
Breakfast was very well organised – sausage, ham, chocolate, bread, madeleines, coffee – and wine! I really wasn’t up to alcohol that early in the morning, but several people were!
There was another pause at the Millau viaduct – very impressive! If you go, I would recommend pausing at the Aire and climbing up to the viewpoint. It is magnificent – and, bien sur! – designed by a British architect!!!
We arrived at the hotel and got organised. The Cyclos had to sort out their bikes, but the Hangers-On went to look round the market. Where there was an old fashioned musical instrument (pianola? I don’t know!) being played. I bought some ripe melons, and some 5-peppercorns, & some guacamole spices.
After lunch the Cyclos gathered, resplendent in their Club colours, before setting out on an enormously long ride (85 km, I think.) They’re all mad!! Melissa (seen below) is one of the younger cyclists. She firmly attached herself to us – much to S’s detriment when they went kayaking in the same kayak, and the young lads tried to impress Melissa by tossing her out of the kayak. S got caught in the crossfire!
While the Mad Ones were cycling, the Hangers-On went to Roquefort to see the Papillon Cheese-making caves. We arrived an hour early for our guided tour so we visited the church. There is some beautiful stained glass there.
At the appointed hour we all gathered outside the caves and went to see how Roquefort is made. I took one photo before being told it wasn’t allowed, but as it wasn’t very good, I’ll spare you the boredom…We got to taste some cheese, plus some of the olive oil that is produced under the Papillon name. I bought Mr D some chocolate-and-roquefort spread. Apparently (and not unsurprisingly) he thinks it’s well-horrid!
On the way back we stopped so we could take photos of the roundabout…
Getting back to the hotel we retired for a little nap, and then gathered for aperos in the bar, when the Cyclists got back. The hotel provided wine & nibbles from the region, and then two people whose birthdays it was provided further aperos. From the amount people were putting away, you wouldn’t think they had another ride planned for the next day! Melissa plonked herself with us for the drinks, but gravitated towards the good looking lads for dinner
Mr D was relieved to see that the hotel had set up a big screen at one end of the room so he was able to watch England’s first World Cup game. He had to position himself so he could see it between people’s heads, but he was a happy bunny. He did manage to converse with people, but with one eye on the footie, and with sudden interjections of “Oh! Ooooh! NO!!!” and so on. We were reasonably circumspect with the wine, but certain other people weren’t (and they missed the nextr day’s ride!) The meal was very enjoyable: a Roquefort puff pastry puffy thing, turkey in wild mushroom sauce with aligot (mashed potato with melted cheese beaten into it), more roquefort and then chocolate fondant.
On Sunday they were off again, cycling another 40-odd km, so C and I went for a walk alog the banks of the River Sorgue. I asked a friendly boulanger if he had some stale bread, which he did, so we went to feed ducks. As we arrived, we noticed a group of adults and children watching the ducks; then one child picked up a handful of gravel and threw it at said ducks. Oh! What a fun game! He did it again, while adults, presumably parents, looked on fondly. Then he picked up a chunk of rock and handed it to an older child who was about to throw it at the ducks, who, by now, were starting to realise they were under attack from nasty hard pebbles, as opposed to edible things. That was it. I lost my rag and attacked (verbally,; not physically) this child – in terrible French. “Qu’est ce que tu pense que tu fait?! Ne lancer pas les caillous aux canards. C’est tellement injuste. Qu’est qu’ils ont fait à toi?!Oui, je suis anglaise. j’aime les canards!Oui je suis folle. Ici, si tu veux jeter quelque chose jeter du pain. ” (Rough trans: What do you think you’re doing? Don’t throw stones at the ducks. It’s so unfair. What have they done to you. yes, I’m English. I like ducks. Yes I’m mad. Here, if you want to throw something, throw bread) With which I thrust a lump of bread into his hand.
Said child muttered something like “I wasn’t going to throw it. What the hell’s this bread for?” But then took aim and threw the bread (in one lump) at a duck. It missed, but duck then vanished under a pile of other ducks as they all tried to grab a bite!
Family wandered off, no doubt discussing the Mad Duck Woman, while C and I fed ducks. Then wandered along the river bank.
After lunch we headed to Millau, where there was the choice of kayaking or Le Petit Train. C & I were on the train, while Mr D and S went kayaking.
We arrived back at the meeting point before the kayakers, so C treated us to a prohibitively expensive kir royale. I won’t say how much it was, but you could get 4.5 kir maisons at the bar next door for what C paid for 2. But they were verrrrrrrrrry nice.
Then it was head for home… stopping on the way for another little snack – ham, sausage, cheese, bread, chocolate, melons, apples, oranges, and (of course) wine. We tucked in
All-in-all, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. And all for 60€ as it was heavily subsidised by somebody. Thanks, all!