For those familiar with the Cité Universitaire in Paris, we left la Deutsch (37 Boulevard Jourdan) and by the time we were at la Fondation des États-Unis (so, around number 17, say?), the whinging from the children had already started.
We managed to get bike paths for most of our journey to Gare d’Austerlitz and got there without any issue (except for the aforementioned whinging, oh god, THE WHINGING) and with plenty of time to spare.
We elected to travel to Toulon via an overnight Intercité train as this was the only option to get out of Paris by train without having to dismantle our bikes. An overnight train with a 2 and a 4 year old. What could go wrong, right? With our bikes and the trailer, we were truly out of options, so this had to do. Getting all of our gear onboard the train was a bit… “sportif” as people in France would say, meaning, it was challenging and irritating (Mark’s translation – ah!), but we made it onboard. Slight aside, we are having a perhaps morbid running joke that if we are still married at the end of this adventure, we will stay together forever, because seriously, what could be more challenging than putting up a tent day in, day out with your beloved half in a foreign part of the continent with 2 children who are fond of expressing their (frequent) discontentment through the medium of screaming/back chatting.
So, we arrived in Toulon just before 7 am. Everything is a challenge when you have bicycles and a trailer, including “how on Earth are we going to get off this platform and out of the station. The bikes made it through the elevator, but the trailer sure as hell didn’t. See? Complicated. It was almost 8 when we made it out of this train station with all our bits and bobs and we were ready to hit the road to our first planned destination, the Camping Beau Vézé, just out of Le Pradet, about 13 km from Toulon. Due to Mark’s careful planning, we had a printed map to our destination, which was handy since both our mobile phones were flat, thanks to the lack of power points on the train. We made it to the campgrounds without any issue. The cycling path to get there was beautiful and separated from the road and Mark and I were pleasantly surprised about the local drivers’ positive attitude towards cyclists. This is a welcome change from Adelaide where it seems drivers and cyclists are at war with each other or from Paris where it is every man for himself, whether you are in a car, on a bike, scooter, hovercraft or just walking. It was a verrrry good thing that we only had short ride scheduled for that day since no one had much sleep the previous night onboard the train and it was hot.
Day 1? A success. We spent the rest of the day feeling vaguely jet lagged at the campground pool and had an early night. The tent went up without any issue, which is boding well. We’ll soon be pros at this.
Day 2 – Le Beau Vézé to La Favière. We got up a bit on the late side at 8, but we all needed the sleep. It took us 2 hours from getting up to the point of leaving with all our belongings packed. Lesson for the big trip in September: streamline things and become more efficient. So! We left at 10 and the South of France is bloody hot at this time of the year. Also, we learned en route that Mark’s printed map for this leg of the journey was missing the last page. Oops. This time, we had a charged mobile, so praise Google Maps or we would still probably be wandering the back roads of Provence. Again, the bike paths were amazing and the bits that were not on paths were usually on very low-traffic roads. Some parts of the scenery were simply breathtaking, but it was a bit hilly and towing over 25 kg of baby meat and all our earthly possessions in over 30 degrees made for bloody hard work. Hard work enough that we even got worried about heat stroke for the girls cooking in the trailer. What we thought would be a 2-hour journey ended up taking almost 5 when you count in all the stops to find out where we are, pee breaks, “I neeeeeeeed water NOW Maman”, “Audrey is hitting me”, *Audrey wailing*, etc., etc., etc.
We made it to La Favière at Camping La Célinette. We got ripped off at a nearby superette (the French word for a convenience store) and bought lunch there for 19 euros which is highway robbery considering that we bought. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.
As luck would have it, some of our Paris friends were holidaying in the area. We caught up with them and went for a swim in the Méditerranée, which was a bit of a change from Parc Montsouris.
We had 2 nights at this campground so the following day was spent with further lazing around and catching up with Céline, Bertrand and the kids. Lovely.
We knew that our final destination was up in the hills. This only truly sunk in when we were at the beach and someone pointed out to us that Bormes les Mimosas Village was way. way, way up there in the mountains. Nevermind, our trusted Google Maps friend said it would only be 5 km or so.
This was the elevation of the ride. We mostly walked the last km whilst pushing all our stuff. Hard work!
We met with Nicky and Mick at their property where we will be Workawayers for the month of August. Our arrangement is that Mark and I will each work 15 hours/week for them in exchange for a flat in the Village. We will mostly be working in their large garden overlooking the sea.
The garden is a beautiful terrace garden which cascades down the front of their property. It is an eclectic mix of ornamental plants with plenty of colour and variation and a beautiful vegetable garden.
We have worked for 3 days already and so far, we have done weeding, organising the irrigation system, repotting plants and other gardening tasks as well as a bits of housework. Mark was particularly taken with me doing some ironing.
It’s ironing, but I’ve never ironed in such a lovely setting. Make strongly felt he had to immortalise such momentous occasion with a picture. Smartypants.
Whilst we are working, the girls tend to play next to us, cause a bit of trouble and watch a whole lot of TV shows on YouTube. So far, this is working okay.
Bormes is a perfectly quaint village with quirky alleyways, pretty shops and medieval monuments. Again, the scenery is amazing.
We are spending our afternoons dicovering the area, despite the heat (because, it is HOT around these parts!). After the really average weather we got in Paris this year (so! much! rain!), it’s pretty good to see this type of forecast.