31 May, 2011

Maaate, where can I get some wheels?

Wheels while on board a boat? Your sailing or touring on land, why the wheels?  Well every landfall has a harbour and a hinterland that has to be explored, even the county side of France.
Arriving at Port St Louis de Rhone I was faced with the inevitable walk from the boat to the shops, chandler or just around this huge marina – my shoes like last year did not stand up to the miles upon mile of road I walked in the first few day so wheels became a must.
So find some wheel, not just your daily ride but something special – mate! light, good mpg, no rego, no upkeep, fast.  You got one, mate?
How was I going to acquire my wheel of my dream here in France?  There is no Parramatta Road here in the south of France but I hear there is a flee market just out of town on Saturday and Sunday where one can acquire anything even a set of wheel of your dreams – no questions asked.
Saturday, just as the sun rose over the horizon I was off on foot for the other side of town for the open road, thumb in the air asking for a lift to the local market.  Well the French may nor greet you in the street or even in the pub but they wont pass a thumb on the open road.  The first car that passed pulled open… bonjour Je vais au marche a Foss.  “ No problem, get in, I’m a local, I know where you want to go --- of words to that effect.  One hour later I was dropped off and told (in French) to walk a few meters to the market.  Thanks mate I’ll have my wheels to get home.  Market yes but fruit and veg but no wheels.  What had gone wrong?  Market in French is marche while flee market is marche au puces.  OK put it down to experience, and be more specific when translating.  So lets get home on the two shoes I have.  Out went the thumb but not a taker for three hours as I walked along the main highway between Marseilles and Avignon and the cars sped by at 120 km/h.  When I reached the turn off on the local road to Port St Louis de Rhone the first car stopped and gave me a ride right into town.
What went wrong? Another day, another location or may be another type or market.  After telling the story over a few beers in the pub that evening a very kind friend (who speaks French) explained the difference between market and flee market and offered to take me to the correct place the following day.
The actual flee market is a huge market set in a field just off the highway outside of Voss – must have passed it twice the previous day.  It had the feeling of a large market set in North Africa but did it have wheels – what size you want? – After a negotiation I got two sets of wheels – green and blue bicycles 24inch with derayler.  Man was I mobile.  Just the T.  They are the right size to fit the boat and are light and fast, mate, fast especially down hill.
Now I am free to travel every stop along the canal and up into the hinterlands of the French country side on a set of wheels any kid would be proud of.  Me too.

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