Fra(i)ncia XV – 9 stops to Fougere I

A French friend of mine that I met 2 years ago while I went adventuring on the Pyrenees. On my way there I met this guy on a campsite in Rocamadour. Legendary city that is built inside a cliff and has a medieval sword that supposedly was thrown there by a general on his way back from fighting the muslims (not a true story).

Anyway I crawled out of my tent and I had nothing to eat the previous day except for a salad. I make my way to the toilet and he yells me over, saying its his birthday and that I should have breakfast with him. He made music while living out of his camper van and we ended up traveling through France for several weeks. It ended up being a little bit of an alcohol fueled adventure but very good nonetheless. Troubadouring around France really taught me a lot more about the country and Quentin and my interests aligned quite well.

We kept in touch throughout the years and he now lives with his girlfriend in a sort of commune thing called a colocation in French. He already invited me many times and this being my Magnum Opus adventure, I couldnt pass up on the opportunity.

I needed to go to a town called Ambert, which was about a 10 minute drive from where he actually lived with 5 other people. To get there I had to travel either 260km by foot OR 380km by vehicle. I chose the vehicle option because the weather was just absolute shit and in my mind I had a sort of Christmas deadline, not to mention my bag was showing signs of wear and tear, just as my pants, just like Lucy’s jacket and just like my fucking mental fortitude. No worries though, the last one will fix itself over time and the rest is just busy work.

My parents were also sending me stuff for Christmas and St. Nicolas and sent it there so it would arrive at around the same time as I got there (HAHA OFCOURSE NOT, THE WHOLE FUCKING COUNTRY IS ON STRIKE, its good to be an optimist though).

380km is not that much, if youre able to find the good rides, use Blablacar or even the public transport that did drive. I left father Ivan with my sign in hand and went to the nearest highway that led to a road leading to Ambert. 

After standing in front of a roundabout for about 15minutes I wasnt really feeling it and decided to go over the roundabout instead. There it didnt take long and the first friendly monsieur picked me and Lucy up and drove us to a town 20km away, we chatted about his son working for some Dutch company and he offered me a bottle of water when he dropped me off. The first one is always the hardest but it usually also drops you off in the hardest place. This town was no exception and there was absolutely nothing there. In France its so common to hitchhike that when people see ya standing there, they will just stop for a sec and check on you, one of the reasons why I fell head over heels for this country.

So the first guy, middle age man dropped me off in Shitville, Inhabitants: 3, services: none. I had my thumb up as soon I left the car, waved the man goodbye and it was a good start. 
Like earlier mentioned some guy just stops, even though he wasnt on a strike, he asked where I needed to go, I told him every shitty village away from this one would be perfect and he told me theres a bar in the next town over. Fucking aye mon frère. We talked a little and he dropped me off right in front of the bar. Since it was nearing 1200h already and the whole country takes a break from being on a strike and just goes to the nearest bar..I decided to chill there a little. They also sold some tobacco and wouldnt you know it, I was just running out of that. Just kidding, you think Im stupid? Cant hitchhike without enough nicotine in your bloodstream, I had more tobacco than food with me to be honest.

Drank a nice tea and some people started chatting me up, sadly none of them were going anywhere I was heading to and depressing as it was that I only ended up traveling 20km in 2,5 hours. I was undeterred.

I walked to a place I thought was good but really wasnt, sometimes you just gotta relocate if it doesnt feel right. Dont stand in depressing places for hours on end waiting on that one lucky ride that never comes. You want a place that has a nice stopping place, is well lit and maybe, just maybe also had some shade/sun and/or a place to sit. Since winter is cumming still, a place in the sun was preferable to this particular moment.

Lucy on my bag, on my Mexican blanket, I tried to act the perfect stranger part of smiling and waving to people in cars whizzing by, not all but most of em friendly. A guy with the biggest beard stopped alongside me and I believe he also wasnt on strike, he needed to drop off some things the next town over and if its gonna be a crawl, then its going to be a crawl. I might as well wait in the next village on the same road, on the perfect ride that will take me more than a measly 20km.

There was another bar and also a little shop that opened around 1500h. 1+1= more coffee while I waited for the shop to open. Didnt need much, just some food for Lucy and some bullshit to keep my spirits up.

The town was depressing for the rest. The boulangbarie was nice, the shop was expensive and all the trucks tearing the town a new asshole made it horribly dystopian and out of place in this beautiful upcoming sunset. 

Getting colder now and I found a piece of grass to put my tent on but hah! Under 50km travelled? I think not, it’ll take me weeks to get there. I continued on and a nice lady stopped her car, she actually needed to go to a reasonably large village that had services and shops and stuff and would shave about km total off my entire journey. Her dog was cute and Lucy apparently understood that being jealous to this fine, fine animal would probably not be the most tactical thing. The pooch stood on my shoulder and Lucy lay on my lap. Pepito? Papoeti? Pappedipoopie? I have no idea but that little fella had a name with P’s and T’s.

She dropped me off on the main road and I didnt quite feel it, not to mention it was in the shade and there wasnt really a stopping place unless the person willing to offer me a ride had Schumacher or Verstappen as a last name, ugh Formula 1 joke, shoot me.

I walked to what I thought was a road to a town but it was a little farmers road into nothingness, with the sun setting, yea no. Lets not get stuck in French Racist Ville, population: 5, services: Gendermarie.

I walked back and saw there was a supermarket, great place to hitchhike! Theres a parking lot, bullshit that you dont need, a lot of people visiting, lights. Yea great place.
5 minutes later some lady stopped and said she was going to Dijon, very nice madame but not on the route sadly. It did lift my spirits though and a car with 2 people in it stopped right after that.

Mother and son was what I thought but they had the weirdest demeanor about them, they were driving all the way to Autun, which was in my mind one of the places I would like to end up on the first day. Roughly 100km from Avallon, a third of the journey, not bad.

A slightly awkward vibe in the car that I couldnt quite put my finger on.

It was no matter. Autun tonight!