The long haul home

I jotted this schedule to avoid Paris. Spending a few hours on a train to Bordeaux seemed like a good idea: these trains are larger than the TGV so you can do some work. It’s easier to load / unload the bicycle as well. In fact, all the three seats in my row were vacant so I was able to take a good nap from Marseille to Toulouse.

Bordeaux St Jean

However, there is some train collision which messes up the entire network. I arrive in Bordeaux 55 minutes late. My train to Poitier has left. I have about one hour until the next train. Which is also late! So I have some time for a beer.

Finally, I am on the TGV for Paris Montparnasse. Two minutes after the train pulls off the platform somebody throws a massive rock in my window. WOW. There are some angry people in France.

The conductor calls the police and they make me move to a different seat (the cracked window is just fine with me but they insist).

By the time I arrive in Poitiers it’s pitch-black and raining. I barely manage to hop on the last train for Montmorillon. 40 minutes later I am on my bicycle on the night road to L.T.

It’s drizzling but I feel good. Because of the clouds and water mist there is diffusion of light in the air. So you can actually see the edge of the road.

It’s much worse when it is crystal clear and there’s no moon. The black skies absorb all the light from the earth.  When it happens you can’t see the road at all.  You vanish in this overwhelming darkness! But not this time

In search of Jeanne d’Arc

A lot of my cycling activities are centered around the childhood of Jeanne d’Arc. The Meuse valley.  This area of France is a topographical puzzle. The borders intertwine in strange ways, you are never sure where you are – it is Meuse of Vosges?

The most eastern province in the medieval France, where the locals were ruled by a complex vassal system where your lord was a servant of a greater Lord who in his turn would be in a relationship with another power.

Both the church and civilian branches played their roles. And the areas of their authority did not match.  For example, Jeanne had to report to Toul, where the ecclesiastical court was held, as a defendant in the case that was brought against her by a man from Neufchateau, which was technically in a different “county”.

The man sued her for a broken marriage promise. In Toul, Jeanne argued her case before the judges and the charge was dismissed.

The Holy Roman Empire was just to the east (and it’s borders were always changing). France was to the west. Was Jeanne even French?

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