Today was the first official cycling day of the trip - a modest 25k loop through some of the vineyards of St. Emilion. Let me just say, for the record, that cycling through the vineyards of France is excellent balm for the soul, regardless of what is going on in the rest of your life. I highly recommend it.
I've got a fairly small group with me, including a couple from Australia and two of their sons (about 15 and 20), a guy who is about to start law school in August, and our fearless leader, who hails from Iowa. And me. I spent today cycling with the family, as Lyn (our leader) had to fetch Ben (the almost law student) at about 2pm. We rode from St. Emilion towards Puisseguin, where we were enticed by a free wine tasting sign along our route. Mind you, there were vines and Chateaux everywhere. After a bit of vin, some camembert and saucisson sec, we continued to Lussac for a picnic lunch, which included some freshly picked plums we found growing along the way.
We continued our loop back via Montagne after a quick stop back to purchase a bottle of the wine we had tasted earlier. Since it was a short ride, we took a late afternoon tour of the underground relics of St. Emilion, providing a respite from the heat. We convened before dinner for a bottle of the local sparkling rose in a lovely garden, then had dinner. I had asparagus wrapped in a smoked duck ham topped with bits of foie gras, and a simple, yet delicious duck breast. I topped of the evening with an Armagnac.
As I was cycling, I kept thinking of the Simpsons episode where Bart is forced to make crappy French wine and learned French in spite of himself. My French is only slightly better than that. And I think I have convinced the Aussie family to adopt me. Stay tuned.