Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My French Bike

Now that I got some of the basic house cleaning out of the way, it’s time to get out around Beaune a bit.  Yesterday was the first market of my stay, and though it was the Wednesday market, which is significantly smaller than the blockbuster Saturday market, there was still plenty of goodness to be found.  This is my favorite vendor.  I bought some of the most beautiful and delicious escarole from him, as well as a few tomatoes and haricots verts (fines, of course).  We had a fabulous salade nicoise for lunch, with everything from the market and a can of tuna.


This time of year, you want to buy everything.  I started with some cherries, which you can sample~


The variety above is the one you find in the States; but they also had this one, Hedelfinger, which is more tart but also slightly larger than a normal cherry; a very meaty bite.  Amazing is all I can say~


We’ve been eating a lot of apricots; the variety that is abundant now comes from the Drôme region and is tinged red~


Soon I’ll be exploring the squash varieties, which caught my eye today~


And the tomatoes; this plum variety is called “Cocktail.”  I used a small striped heirloom variety in the salade for lunch, and it was one of the most flavorful tomatoes I’ve tasted in a long time. 


For breakfast after the market, we had local fromage blanc, which is essentially an unsweetened yogurt.  In the bottom of the cups are sliced strawberries, the small and extremely flavorful French variety Mara de Bois, and cherries, topped with cassis berries.  I asked the cassis berry vendor where the berries came from, and he said simply yet cheerfully, “From Us.”  Us being a farm not far from Beaune.   More strawberries, raspberries and a sprinkle of coarse French sugar topped off my flavorful little cups.  The new vermeil spoons are perfect for breakfast~ 


After breakfast, I went for a long walk, around the ring road, which took 45 minutes to walk around once, but I got a little exercise in.  Then it was off to get R’s favorite daily bread, a demi pain gros.  As I walked in the bakery, a man was coming out, and he put his bread in the spruce produce crate on the back of his bike and off he went.   I had to fumble for my camera for a minute, but here he goes; don’t you love the green bike?  I look longingly at these bikes all day, with their cool colors and vintage chrome fenders.  I tell you, the older people here have all the cool stuff: the best vintage bikes, the best vintage baskets.  These vintage French & chic items are precisely what I’m looking for each day at 1:30 pm when I hit the Emmaus thrift store.  All day long here you see elderly people biking around.  All this good food and clean air and water, a little exercise on the velo; it’s a good long life here.


It took me 15 minutes to walk to Emmaus, but to my great happiness, I was able to bike back, in five minutes on my latest favorite purchase….meet my new vintage French Bike.  I’m calling her Mathilde.


She is originally Italian, a blue Motobecane one-speed with blue and white saddlebags.  Though a 3-speed would have been better, I think she’s perfect for me.  And with the one-speed, I get a little exercise in.  I wasted no time fixing her up a bit by giving her…what else….a basket for the front.


Of course, I have never met a vintage basket I haven’t loved, and this one came from a deballage a few years ago.  I am sure I paid no more than 1 Euro for it.  It’s been holding magazines, but now it belongs with Mathilde.


I used some satin ribbon on hand to attach the basket to the handlebars.


And later in the evening, I went to my secret lavender field to fill the basket with cuttings, which will soon come in the house.  To me, French homes should smell faintly of furniture wax and strongly of good food and lavender, at least in summer.


The only problem is that as I was hurrying to leave the field, I clocked my forehead squarely on the gate.  And I do mean clocked.  I think I was just super excited to finally have a bike and to then have a basket on it filled with freshly cut lavender.  But in addition to the bike and flowers, I also came home with an enormous goose-egg on the head, which R very kindly iced for me.


I don’t care, it was worth it.  Do you know how happy I am to look out the kitchen window and see Mathilde on the terrace, now with the table I hauled outdoors, and the folding garden chairs, primed as they await their final coat of paint this week?  Very happy, I can tell you….She and I are going places together this summer, to the vineyards, running errands and maybe starting with a few round trips to the recycle.


R is going off this morning to get her a lock, then he’s taking her grocery shopping.  I may get a new brown seat and saddlebags, but for now, she’s just perfect as she is.  I love Mathilde, my French Bike!


  1. So pleased that you managed to find your bike so soon into your visit , I'm sure you'll have lots of fun riding on Mathilde.

  2. I remember when I moved to Montpellier to study French the first item on my list was to buy myself a bike. I had all these visions of myself peddling to and from school, wearing a cotton gingham dress, ballet flats with a basket of flowers on the front.

    I bought my bike secondhand. It looked perfect. A bit small, but still it fit my vision.

    It had one gear.

    I was barely able to pedal back to my apartment. Sweat was pouring off of me. After trying several more times to ride it I finally gave up and decided that walking was just as fast and easier. Much easier.

    Your bike looks lovely. I hope Mathilde is a bit nicer to you.


  3. Mathilde is PERFECT! Congratulations on your new acquisition!

  4. OH< I am living vicariously through YOU.I just knew YOU would find a bicycle!!An ITALIAN one too!The chairs are stunning.YOU work FAST........I like that!So sorry to hear you have a goose egg on your forehead.NOT FUN............keep writing and sending photos!!!As I actually get excited when I see I have an email from YOU!I would like to request a full shot of the front door!!! If I may............XX

  5. Andrea I adore her!! She is perfect for you and with the vintage basket with satin ribbons. Love the fresh lavender and white flowers. Everyone will know when you are riding to market! I hope you head is better soon!

    The Arts by Karena

  6. Good for you that you found your bike. It is such a treat reading about your daily encounters in Beaune.
    Enjoy your time there.

    Sheila in SF

  7. Talk about livin' the dream! Take care of your head!

  8. Sorry about your goose egg. Ouch! Love your new bike and am envious you can cut lavender nearby.

    I will be in Beaune in September for three days. Looking forward to seeing the sights there. What things do you recommend especially restaurants. We would love to enjoy the area like the locals and not stick out like a tourist.

  9. Just French perfection! Your story telling had me right along there with you …

    So happy you found Mathilde … oh the adventures to come! I will be savoring them all!

    Thanks ever so much for sharing your adventures my friend! They are making for the best summer reads!


  10. OMG she is a total score!!!
    I adore her and her chic saddlebags!
    I cannot believe you got her at the thrift store and so quickly!
    I am thrilled for you:)
    Enjoy your new friend

  11. She's a beauty...happy cycling!

  12. Mathilde is a beauty!! And of course the basket is perfection on her! If she has a basket, saddlebags and the box on back, you could travel for weeks on end:). Sorry about that goose egg... I do things like that to myself ALL the time. Enjoy my friend. xoxo

  13. Andrea forgot to mention how much I love the color you chose for the chairs on the terrace!

    The Arts by Karena

  14. Your post has made me want to get my bike out of retirement and ride it to our local market to buy fresh produce and cook up a storm.

    However I think I'll forgo the egg ;)