There are only two events worth talking about today as we rode to Saint Flour. That’s not too say the riding was uneventful. Indeed, we got lost a couple of times and stood on a big rock overlooking the whole Lozère dèpartement. But these two events rocked our world.
The first event changed our perception of what good bread should taste like. We rolled into town hot, tired, and hungry, the common condition of the bicycle tourist. Our first order of business was to pick up supplies for dinner.
Every grocery run in France has included at least one baguette. In fact we probably average two baguettes per day, which means we’ve eaten at least 60 baguettes in France. At this point we’ve come to understand that not all baguettes are created equal.
The baguettes found at French supermarkets are often of poor quality. We eat them anyways because we’re too hungry and tired to care. Better baguettes are almost always found at dedicated boulangeries, or bakeries.
So what makes for a superior baguette, you ask? The crust should be thin and crispy. The inside should be light, with big air pockets. Most baguettes fail to meet these two criteria. They have the texture of a damp sponge.
We picked up the bulk of our food at the supermarket and then went next door the boulangerie to grab a flute, which some baguettes are called. Don’t ask me why.
We then headed for the nearest park to make lunch. That’s when we got our first bite of the best baguette in France. It was everything I’d come to admire about such a simple piece of food, but it went one better. There were sesame seeds embedded in the crust. Not a lot. Just enough to add that toasted, nutty flavor. Every bite was magical.
Closed for the season
We arrived at the campsite in Saint Flour, only to read a sign on the locked gate that the campground was fermeé.
A quick search on my digital map showed the closest campground was 10km, too far for us at that point. I suggested we just pitch our tent anyway, to hell with them, but Carrie didn’t want to get in trouble.
We instead went to the tourist office in town for some advice. The nice lady provided some options. When she mentioned that one of the hotels in town started at €37 for the night, we agreed it would be nice to be indoors for a night, and it was.
The trouble is that most of the French stop camping at the beginning of September, which means lots of campgrounds have already closed or will be closing soon. We now have to make sure in advance that our destinations have available camping. We could of course just stay in more hotels along the way, and that does sound very nice, but we have a budget and by God if we don’t stick to it. Hotels, even the cheap ones, blow up our budget every time.