It is with more than a tinge of sadness that I will be leaving the French Alps today. I cross the border in to Switzerland and the Swiss Jura but before I left I had to go back to Aix-les-Bains which had opened my eyes, just 5 days ago.
With the bike built I took to the cycle path that leads out down to Ugine and Albertville beyond. I had no intention, nor the time to complete a lap of the lake but instead I just wanted to enjoy some chilled out riding in pleasant surroundings.
It has been a hard few days re-adjusting to my own company and switching my brain in to French mode solely. In my head I still think in English but what comes out of my mouth is French and French alone. It is the only way to immerse yourself in another country really.
So a quick 25kms or so were spent ambling down the Western side of the lake. The cycle paths are just fantastic over in France. Nice and wide and logically laid out. Okay the Netherlands is still my favourite but France is not at all bad either.
As the routes take you off piste you get to see things that you miss when driving. There was a fancy little tunnel which is bicycles only and, at almost half a mile long, it was interesting on its constant radius turn. The view when you finally hit daylight at the other end is another picture of Alpine beauty, (and all of this on a wet day too). It just is lovely.
There were all kinds of people out cycling, walking the dog, rollerblading, you name it. The whole social element of the these shared spaces away from motorised transport have a relaxed atmosphere to them. I continued round through the park lands to the Northern shore of the lake, passing grand buildings left, right and centre.
I returned to my car packed away the bike and headed into the centre of Aix-les-Bains for food. It was outstanding once more, a lovely rigatoni valdostana dish showing more than a passing nod to the near neighbour just over the Mont Blanc massif. A blood orange ice cream to follow and it is off to Switzerland I go.
I’m not sure what to expect if truth be told. It should be peaceful though, which will be welcome.