Biking into Bricquebec, Crashing a Party

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We made it to the tiny town of Brix, in Normandy’s La Manche, a peninsula that makes up the western side of the province. Our trip from the seaside village of Barneville-Carteret took us past many tall hedgerows, behind which were rows of corn and wheat. At the end of a long downhill driveway, we saw the 13th century Chateau that Karin and Fran Tiljssen rent out to guests. We are staying in a castle! Our bedrooms are regal, the staircase is worn like an old castle’s.

The couple bought the property 13 years ago, now most of their guests sleeping in the 25 beds are from Holland, the UK, or Germany. She speaks four languages, making it easy for people to find them directly and book their stay.

Traveling for a week with even the best of friends, you need a break now and again. So Paul set off in the car and I took off on a borrowed bike with two nearly flat tires. I was bound for the nearest town, Bricquebec, to find both air and sustenance.

Riding a bike is the best way to get to know a place, what with the smells, the sounds, and the closeness to the people beside the road that all add to your experience. I pedaled down a long hill and through some smaller villages until I finally made it the 7 kilometers to town. I heard music. I pedaled around the corner and saw a big band playing, with men in striped shirts in a big chorus behind them.

P1550755 733402Table upon table was full of people feasting; there were almost 200 people there. I set down the bike and listened to the jaunty French folk songs, and a particularly sweet number featuring a woman on a picolo. I snuck over and helped myself to a giant bottle of water from a large iced tub. An old woman glanced at me, nudging her husband.

Before I could get in trouble I walked back to listen to the band–the servers were coming out with plates full of big slices of local cheese. On my way out I grabbed a slice and pedaled into the town, which has a medieval castle spared any damage during the war.

The way back was easier since I had found an airpump, and was fortified with my loaf of bread with lardons, (filled with bacon and topped with cheese). It’s good to be out on a bike again, something about a 14 km ride makes you feel cleansed and tired. Tired in a good way.