Adventures of Kristin – My work trip to France this summer

Part I: Biking to Work

This past July I had the privilege of going to work in our French office for two and half weeks in the southern town of Lunel, France.

A billboard near the post office advertising La Pescalune!
A billboard near the post office advertising La Pescalune!
Since most of what we do here in the US is related to reservations, logistics and helping customers before they leave for their vacation, it was great to see the other side of our operations that deals with orientations, bikes and interactions with clients while they on tour. One of the weeks that I spent in Lunel, it had its local fête or festival, La Pescalune.

Because La Pescalune involves black bulls and white horses running through the streets multiple times a day, Laura and I decided to bike to work for the week so that Laura’s car would not get demolished by wild animals or intoxicated spectators.

Since many of you who read the blog have traveled or plan to travel with us on one of biking or hiking tours, I thought it would be fun to share with you my experience of biking to work.

First, there was the busy street that I turned right onto as I exited the hotel parking lot. The cars would speed along the curving road as I cautiously merge into the bike lane, careful not to fall in front of the tiny French cars (or the occasional lumbering trucks). My route continued straight, and as I rode a ‘secret’ garden passed on my left. ‘Secret’ because its walls were 12 feet high and no one could see in except through the 12 foot high iron gates of the entrance. A green ceramic roof of a greenhouse peeked above the walls from the inside. I would catch a fleeting glimpse of a walkway lined with huge sycamore trees leading to the doorway of an old manor as I cycled past.

I would pass a pharmacy in an old limestone brick building with mod gray lettering and new windows. “If I ever have to use a pharmacie while I am here,” I thought, “that is where I will go because it is the cutest.” Yes, the cutest.

Sycamore Trees in the 'secret' garden
Sycamore Trees in the 'secret' garden

Lunel Viel ended quickly and I would come upon my first roundabout. A horse farm would arrive on my right and a large industrial building on my left, the center of the rondpoint (I think that is what it is called in French) filled with lavender. If I was lucky and no diesel smoking car passed me by, I could smell the lavender as I rode on, the Provençal scent floating me a bon courage through the wind.

Next, I would ride past the vineyards. There were no grapes on the vines then, but, seeing as I do not come from a wine growing area, merely seeing the rows of grapevines seemed special to me. To add to it, the road was lined with great trees, making for a very picturesque portion of my route.

Finally, I would pass through the last roundabout of my route and arrive en ville. I had to take a few precarious turns along a very thin, fenced-in sidewalk which forced me to be much more confident in my biking skills as the days went on, but I never once fell and would continue on to pass the bike shop and then arrive at Impasse Alphonse Menard. Although the first two days I mistook our little road for a driveway (it is nestled between two buildings on an already small, apartment lined street), I soon recognized that this little route led me to my work. Two windows and an antique gray door. First floor of a two story building. Bikes locked up out front. Yup, I had arrived.

Bonjour!” Misk. Misk. Misk. Three kisses to say hello (left, right, left in southern France). “Ça va?” And so my days in France would begin !