This morning Pat and I are signed up for a session of remise en selle (Get back in the saddle) with the association Vélo-Cité. The idea is to be a bit more confident riding on the more busy streets of Bordeaux, to master the complicated junctions and so, somehow, to become one of those cyclists that weave effortlessly through the vehicles and then disappear like wraiths as the cars and buses stand there in the traffic jams.
morituri te salutant
Well we didn't die.
What we did do was get a lesson on the various road formats for cyclists, pistes cyclables (cycle-paths), bandes cyclables (cycle-lanes), zones 30 and zones partagées where cars, cyclists and pedestrians share the space. We had a practice going round in circles and figures-of-eight, doing quick stops and so on.
Then we rode very slowly up the quays and into the Chartrons area where I almost collided with someone carrying frankly too many carpets - ding "Attention !" - and with a lady walking blithely into the aroad while looking backwards - "Attention, Madame !".
The woman following me said that I should have given way to both but I maintain that it is unwise to career into the road in front of a bicycle without so much as a by-your-leave. Anyway, she later found herself confronted with a car that was going the wrong way round a corner, and she soon protested. (I saw the same car coming and veered onto the wrong side of the road to avoid it.)
All in all I'm surprised we survived cycling as slowly as we did. Probably a morning well spent.
As we came home we saw lots of riot police and various somewhat elderly "gilets jaunes" arriving. The protests are starting up again.