After a 25-kilometer morning bike ride through gorgeous French countryside, we departed Vienne, France, this afternoon on one of the most beautiful days I have experienced on the rivers of Europe. The landscape was stunning, with the nascent blooms of spring bathed in the buttery brightness of a perfect May day.
AmaCello was taking us to Tournon, about five hours downriver from Vienne on this particular day (the time require to transit varies based on marine traffic on the Rhone).
Our arrival in Tournon was as spectacular as the transit had been, with the 15th/16th-century Chateau de Tournon and its circular turret highlighting a bend in the river.
The chateau’s asymmetry seemed to reflect the events of the evening. Our evening arrival coincided with the closing of the polls in the first round of the French presidential elections. The next round, and a new president for France, comes May 7.
When May 7 comes and goes, France, as we know it, will be set on a course of change. In the first round, voters rejected traditional candidates in favor of centrist and far right politicians. Just as we discovered in America this past fall, predictions of who will win the race are largely useless. Only time will tell the outcome.
What time tells us now is that France is a beautiful nation with friendly people. Twice on this trip, locals have invited us for coffee, one into her 18th-century home in Lyon. When I asked why she had invited us in, she replied, “Why not?”
A beautiful bridge connected Tournon with its neighbor across the river, Tain L’Hermitage. On an evening stroll through the city last night, all that I love about France appeared to be sturdily intact, the beauty of an ancient village and that fabulous sense of le joie de vivre that leaves Francophiles like me with only a single dominant thought, Vive Le France. ??????