Recently Alan and I took our first bike ride together and it got me thinking about the last time I was on a bicycle. I was 16 years old, 35 years ago. While cruising the promenade from our apartment to the harbor I started thinking what a major change of perspective our life in France has created, especially when it comes to transportation.
These days our primary mode of transportation is either walking or using public transportation.
Prior to retirement, the most walking we did was around the Sparks Marina while taking Kiara out to the dog park or for a walk around the marina to see her “peeps.” Afterwards we would usually stop at Anchors, a bar/restaurant with a large patio and a nice view of the water, to have lunch before we drove home.
The only time we used the bus was for football games at Mackay Stadium so that we didn’t have to deal with the parking lots nearer the University of Nevada, Reno campus which could take up to an hour to get out of after the game, or longer if we won.
Our retirement and subsequent move to France has forced us both to a new perspective when it comes to modes of transportation. Probably the best thing that happened to force a change of perspective was walking the Camino de Santiago in 2013. After hiking 800 kilometers over the course of six weeks, a 3 kilometer round trip to the grocery store doesn’t seem so bad at all. And taking a bus to the grocery store was a pleasure after finishing the Camino where we would sometimes hike 8 kilometers before stopping for breakfast.
In Carcassonne, it was easy to catch the bus to get around town, it was inexpensive and the system reached all corners of the city. In Argeles-sur-Mer, there isn’t a local bus, we have a petit train. It doesn’t run as regularly as the buses did in Carcassonne and often we find ourselves preferring to just walk home from the Saturday open-air market rather than waiting 2 hours for the next petit train.
We can walk home in less than an hour, unless we stop for cold drink near the beach. With a bicycle we can make the trip in 20 minutes and there are designated bike lanes on nearly every road in Argeles-sur-Mer. So, even though our apartment came with a couple of used bicycles, we’ve decided to purchase a couple of city bikes for our stay in this beautiful sea-side resort city.
The bikes will offer us the ability to see more of the surrounding area, provide opportunities for day trips and some hiking in the nearby foothills of the Pyrenees, allow us to do our shopping during the winter when the petit train isn’t running, and most importantly, pick up shawarma from our favorite kebab place that’s about 3 kilometers from the apartment and get it home before it gets cold!
For us this is a huge shift in perspective from where we were just two and a half years ago when each of us owned a new car and even though we worked at the same place, most often drove to work separately.