Eight continuous days on the bike and eight continuous days off. It wasn’t the plan to take such a long rest stop so early into the trip. French hospitality is partly to blame and my time here in the small village of Massac might be one of the most relaxing I’ll have on the road. Eating and socialising seems to  consume half of the day and the only difficulty, or rather frustration, has been my inability to converse in a language I regret not paying more attention to at school. It woud have made more sense during the months leading up to departure to have invested more of my time into studying French rather than researching what equipment to take with me, particularly as I plan to cycle through a lot of Francophone Africa. It’s never too late to learn of course, but Spain and Portugal come between here and another French speaking country.

The French are a little  like the English when it comes to speaking a second language. They do it badly and generally don’t like it. A lot of my time here has been spent meeting the family and friends of my two hosts, Xavier and Nathalie, who’ve been kind enough to translate conversation I often just follow fragments of. I spent last Saturday at a party clinging to the few English speakers present. I really wanted to be out on the road taking in more sights. Towards the end of the day someone wheeled out a curious old bicycle. I gave it a spin, which seemed to gather much applause from those around.

One of the reasons I’m delaying my departure here is to wait for a friend to arrive. Tim and I cycled together in India, Pakistan and China. He’ll join me for just a few days here in France, but I’m hoping to plan something longer when I make it to Morocco. At the current rate this will be some time yet.

Cycling the old fashioned way from Peter Gostelow on Vimeo.