Troyes, Sunday Mai 11 th 2013.
“I am coming from a small town in France”….. Most Americans are familiar with the reply of the goofy guy with his hat in the iconic TV show “Saturday night live”.
This is why it is so interesting to show small town France to my American friends, some of them coming from rural Ohio or Missouri and having never been anywhere else in Europe than the big cities.
Just like two years ago I avidly discovered small town America on our Coast to Coast ride, I am now the guide answering questions to my amazed friends discovering boulangerie patisseries, monuments to the dead of WW2, wooden shutters on the houses and all these things so familiar to us Frenchmen but so unknown in America.
We have been riding 1200 Kms, or 800 miles so far, through very hilly departments of Massif Central and Morvan. Everywhere small fields separated with hedgerows, cattle grazing freely in green prairies, woods on the slopes of the mountains, scattered little farms. Lots of Chateaux reminding the ancient regime where the local aristocrat protected the peasants in exchange of their crops and work. And the church in each village, with its bell tolling the hours of the day, it’s steeple dominating the huddled houses, it’s cemetery where ancestors rest in peace.
In small town France everything is steady, quiet and slow. But it is a dying world. Farmers survive only thanks to subsidies on very specialised production like goat cheese and high quality meat. No young people live in these dead villages where only retired people and passing tourists sustain local shops. It is a France of the past. Let us hope that many many bikers and hikers will help it survive!
made of local stone