Traveling abroad solo means you can stop whenever, wherever you like. Sightseeing while riding on a bicycle makes it even easier.
It’s a wonder I made any progress on the backroads journey to San Quentin la Poterie and back to Uzes. The scenery is amazing. Everything around is a subject for a picture. When I’d stop my bike to take a photo, I’d have to remind myself to turn around and look back, too.
Like life, some things appear to be better when we look “back” than “through”.
Before starting out on my day’s bike riding adventure, I stopped by the Wednesday Market in the main square, Place aux Herbes. I picked up vegetables and other items to prepare meals for myself the rest of the week. Saturday I’ll shop “fresh” again. More strawberries, cherries, cheeses, and vegetables, plus locally made mustard, beer and Madeline cookies were my stash for the day.
Off to San Quentin la Poterie
It was not difficult to get started on the bike trail to “la Poterie”. I had ridden past the entrance on my way back from the bike rental shop on Tuesday. However, “started” is the operative word above. The path that seemed so clear at the “start” soon dumped me onto a four-way intersection. None of the intersecting roads looked like a bike path. Fortunately there were two men standing in a driveway who could possibly give me directions. Of course neither of them could speak a word of English. Nevertheless, using my map and the universal language –hand waving– they gave me enough information to go on my way.
And oh! What a view!
Another advantage of traveling by bike is that you can take off onto side roads you would miss by car. Who could resist checking out this road with no gates, no signs? Not me. Just look what awaited me!
A hidden path… And just a few feet farther…
Then.. braving it down a well-maintained, tree-lined road, I rode slowing, hoping no one would come after me with dogs or a gun — or both. Soon, in the distance, I could hear chattering voices. Instead of turning around and hightailing it back to the main road, I headed closer to the voices. I would excuse my invasion by saying, “I’m lost.”
By this time I was off the bike and I was pushing it beside me. Taking a few steps ahead, I saw a small stone house to the right of the roadway. The chattering was coming from three or four people sitting around a table on the patio. I could also see a second stone building and the entrance to a large, stately mansion that was surrounded by a stone wall.
Apparently the people sitting around the table enjoying their lunch were house and grounds keepers for the estate. They certainly weren’t guards. They were so heavily engaged in conversation that no one noticed me.
Announcing myself by shouting “bonjour” in my best French, I saw the older woman in the group look my way. She then walked to the road to greet me. As she approached, I held up my iPhone and motioned with my hands that I’d like to take a picture. Seeing that I was neither a threat, nor a professional photographer (a photo journalist with an iPhone?), she said “Ok” in English.
I asked then if I could take pictures of the big house from inside the courtyard. Replying In broken English, she said “someone lives there.”
In other words, “no.”
Not to be dismissed so easily, yet trying to be as polite as possible, I asked if I could take her picture and photograph other sights around the estate. She said “oui”. Viola! My persistence paid off!
Pays de la ceramics
Practically “around the bend” from my off-road venture to the French chateau was the famed village of art pottery: San Quentin la Poterie.
San Quentin la Poterie
With a tradition in pottery since the fourteenth century, the village has maintained it’s reputation for world-class ceramics.
The purpose of my trip here today was to take in the scenery.
And of course, the food. Salad Nicoise.