For those who are interested, I have begun blogging about a two week bike trip I recently took to the Pyranees at Life In The Great Midwest. It will probably end up being a fifteen or twenty part series so feel free to follow along over the next several weeks if you like.
For this blog I have a few short thoughts about how I felt as a tourist in southern France.
In general, the people there were fantastic. Most everyone greeted me with the typical high pitched “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” everywhere I went. I think every single person I met besides one checkout clerk at a supermarket was very friendly and liked to talk.
I participated in an actual bike race while there and the riders that I could communicate with were also very friendly. I told them all I was from Chicago since that is easier than trying to explain where Wisconsin is. The riders were somewhat amused that a person from the USA was in their race – I looked later and there were a total of six Americans in a field of thousands. Since most of the people riding with me were by association pleasure bikers and not pro or semi-pro racers, we encouraged each other and got along quite well over the 120 mile course (which had 11k feet of rise). In the riding lines everyone took their share of the pain out in front.
Everyone in France eats a loaf of bread a day it seems. Why do they eat so much bread?
The sausage over there is high quality, and not much beats the confit de canard.
The views at the tops of the mountains are simply breathtaking.
In general, all of the natives were pretty nice, even in the bigger cities like Toulouse and Lourdes that I visited. It may have been because I looked like a tourist (especially with my bike gear on) but at times I had street clothes on and was treated nicely as well. I had been to Paris once before and was treated like crap, but I was much younger. But then again, there could well be a difference between city folk and country folk. Perhaps those who have traveled more extensively through France could comment on this.
If you are a skier, I would think that this area would be great fun as well – from what I could tell this area really caters to the ski crowd.