Last weekend we decided to do some exploring. My teaching post for this school year is in a town called Venelles, which is only 11 minutes away by car, according to google maps. So we figured, why not see if we can bike it?
Me + biking is, I should note, a somewhat surprising combination. I am extremely maladroite and shun most physical activity. Josh convinced me to get a bike. . . and now he's trying to convince me to ride it instead of walk alongside it. Which I did, for about half of our trip to Venelles. It turns out that to get from Aix to pretty much anywhere north of the city, you have to go up a huge hill. The local Gauls (pre-Roman inhabitants of France) lived at the top of the hill (the Plateau d'Entremont) and they definitely had a great view:
But they weren't trying to ride a bike up the hill, in traffic. You see, it turns out that all the roads between here and Venelles are pretty major thoroughfares. They're also lined with the plane trees that Napoleon planted to keep his troops marching in the shade as they moved around the country. This basically means that as I wobble along the shoulder of the road, I could either fall to the left and get hit by a car, or fall to the right and run into a tree. Strangely I find the trees comforting. The idea of crashing into one of these beautiful old trunks has a nice earthy warmth to it.
Well, we finally made it to Venelles, and it's a cute town. There's a sign just outside town that marks Venelles as a "ville fleurie," which I guess means they have a lot of flowers. We didn't see many flowers, but we did spot grape vines hanging over fences: These days I keep catching whiffs of a smell that's like a cross between wine, vinegar, and grape juice. And here's the cuplrit: Crushed grapes rotting underfoot.
"Pardonez-moi, Monsieur le chien, savez-vous ou est le centre ville?"