Changing plans & adapting

Narbonne, in the south of France, has a Mediterranean look and feel and a noticeably warmer climate than northern France.

It’s common during long-term travel for plans to change. It’s about adapting to circumstances as they arise. Accommodating your own changing needs as well as managing situations and environments. Being comfortable with that, not stressing when things go ‘off plan’, is a big part of travel.

I’ve just gone considerably ‘off plan’ but that’s OK. It’s the right thing for me and I’m happy with it.

I’ve had the bike and myself transported from the town of Saumur, on the River Loire, in northern France 700kms to Narbonne, in the south. A nine-hour drive has brought me from the cold north to the Mediterranean south.

Palm trees in Narbonne obviously like the Mediterranean climate as much as me.

There are several justifiable reasons but I did wrestle with the decision initially; it felt a little like cheating. It’s not cheating however. It’s the right thing to do because it’s right for me, which is what’s important. 

I’m not enjoying travel through France as much as I had hoped. A big factor is the cold. It was my decision to set-off late October and travel during the winter months. I naively thought layering-up would deal with the cold and waterproofs would keep off the wet. It’s not really working. I need proper cold weather clothing to cope with cold temperatures and sweating while cycling.

Camping, either in designated campgrounds or wild-camping, is not happening either. I have yet to find a campground open this time of year. Again, proper cold weather camping equipment is needed for below zero temperatures. As a consequence I’m spending a lot of money finding a warm bed each evening. France is not cheap for accommodation. 

The days are also short and I don’t feel confident riding a recumbent trike in the dark, even with lights. France is a big country to travel across in short bursts.

Probably the most controversial reason for getting closer to Spain is the lack of interaction I’ve experienced with French people. It has surprised me that I actually find slow travel through France a lonely experience. Mostly, my attempts to communicate or have meaningful conversations fail because of my poor grasp of the French language. My fault for not learning the language I guess, but I’ve not experienced the same problem in countries where I have no grasp of the language at all. 

Villa and garden through keyhole.

It’s important to add that what I describe here is my experience. But this is my journey, my adventure, and I’ve taken matters into my own hands and made the decision I’ve made. 

It’s not cheating, it’s right for me.


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