July 1st 2014 : 162 kms – 3 drivers.
And a one day stop, one !
We were, let’s admit it, overexcited at the idea of turning this tour de France that we had planned for months into reality. Overexcited too, because even if we had turned in our apartment keys on the 10th of April, this 1st of July is one of those “first days of the rest of our lives”.
Let the tour begin !
9 30 am. Whilst we are done with the bottlenecks on the ring road and its daily load of 300000 vehicles, our first driver who picked us up from our Parisian pied-à-terre, takes the A13 towards Normandy. Mahery jumps into the driver’s seat, then first pit-stop at Limay, where we have a meeting with our friend Mohammed for lunch.
Excellent familial moment, a first glimpse of the trip, in a surprising countryside: the Tiep of Aichata sends us towards Katie, in Mali…
12.45 pm it is about time to take the road again. We haul into the vehicle of our first driver Armand who had followed us up to Mohammed s place and who finally drops us at Mantes at the highway entrance
Thanks dad…and see you soon.
Wrong spot! Lesson one: a highway at the entrance of a town on a very busy roundabout in the middle of a four –lane motorway, it doesn’t work well…
We wait for half an hour before changing our tactics or more precisely we went for another roundabout. We walk through some mantaises suburbs; not even scared! If we start now we won’t go very far. We discover instead a surprising block of street art (nod to our friends from J’ai Une Ouverture) marking with its musical drawings the scenery and its bar-shaped buildings.
Eric takes us to the Louviers tollgate in the Eure department. Seated at the back of his Volvo (because “countries of northern Europe are more advanced in terms of sustainable development”) we benefit from his technical enlightment about wind turbines and the water catchment that he installed at his house.”It works but the investment required over 20 years has discouraged me”. We part after the traditional Hopineo picture on the conclusion of a “grey world” however changing.
So it’s at the tollgate exit, under a mist too sparse to damage our signboard that Fabien responds positively to our hitchhiking calls finding a place for us in his lorry. Being an independent transporter he receives calls that demand travelling across France overnight for replacement of faulty products or to alleviate delivery errors. Being nomadic in his own way; free too, crazy about board games we discover his latest finding “Voyage around the World” and we offer him in exchange the game Terrabilis. After furtive exchanges of views about a nuclear plant greenwashing he visited with his daughter, protecting and favoring biodiversity around its site, Fabien leaves us on the roadside a few steps from our exit.
8 minutes :thats the life expectancy of a pedestrian on the motorway. We learnt that during our driving school lessons and the policemen passing by do not forget to remind us of that by hooting.then the customs officers seeing us arriving by foot at the tollgate ask us where we come from.”Paris!”.unfortunately filming the 10 minutes during which Justine explains the hopineo project to them was not permitted.too bad those moments will stay in our heads.
Another short half an hour later and we reach Valletot where one of our cousins, Maite, is putting us up for our first night “on the road”.
A beautiful first day on our trip, already full of encounters. Tomorrow we will edge away from the motorway in order to, according to the hazards of hitchhiking, visit 2 or 3 facilities engaged in responsible tourism.
To be continued …but things are looking good ! 🙂
Translated by Brigitte and Jean Marc Ythier