We made Sophie miserable yesterday. Not intentionally, of course. We meant well.
After a morning at the small town square where there is a modest daily market during the summer (with a beautiful produce stand nonetheless) and a lunch consisting of some of the food we had such a hard time choosing at the hypermarket, we set out on an adventure with the bikes we’ve rented for our stay on Île-de-Ré.
The island is very flat. It’s like biking in Holland. And there are cycling paths everywhere. We figured that the lack of hills gave us license to go further than we would otherwise go. We were optimistically ambitious. Armed with a cycling map, off we went to explore the main town on the island, Saint-Martin-en-Ré.
What we thought would be a relatively quick 30-minute ride, however, turned into a 60-minute ride after we realized that the length of the trip – about 10 km each way – was too much for Sophie. About 1/3 of the way in, she was professing her intense dislike of her mother, her father and her sister. About 1/2 of the way there, she hated us all and was sticking out her tongue between sobs.
So traumatized was she that she didn’t even stop to laugh at the sexy donkeys pictured below when one of them tried to hump the other. Chloe and I, however, enjoyed the show immensely.
We finally arrived at our destination and admittedly, Sophie looked like she was going to melt. Fortunately, the weather on our trip has so far been spectacular and we’ve been spared the horrendous heat wave that’s afflicted the East Coast this week. But it’s still damn hot in the sun. And Sophie was red like a tomato and angry to boot. Below is Sophie with her “how could you do this to me?” face.
Luckily, 7-year olds generally don’t hold grudges. Sophie soon felt better after savoring some ice cream. And we all felt better that she felt better and finally had a chance to enjoy the glorious view of the port.
The town has many restaurants and lots of souvenir shops. But Saint-Martin-en-Ré has one store that no other town (at least according to the boutique’s owners) in France has. It’s a shop that is 100% devoted to everything Tintin. Feeling refreshed, Chloe gamely posed as Tintin while Sophie posed as Captain Haddock.
The girls went shopping and found souvenirs that made them happy. We had crêpes for dinner, which also made the girls happy. And then it was time for the bike ride home. Knowing that Sophie often tends to increase the drama when both parents are present, combined with Chloe’s desire to stay in the town a bit longer to shop, Sophie’s favorite Papa accompanied her back to the house while I stayed behind with the 12-year old. And what do you know? Not a peep out of her, the entire 10 km ride.
The little one was amply rewarded today for her fortitude yesterday when we arrived at one of the island’s beautiful beaches and she discovered seashell heaven. And as an added bonus, we drove. We barely had time to lather her in sunscreen before she was hard at work collecting shells. They were everywhere. By the time we were ready to leave the beach, the bag Sophie was holding in the photo below was full with her “precious treasures.”
The bag also contained some slimy seawood and ugly creepy-crawlies, but let’s not dwell on unpleasantries.
Not sure if we’ll get her on her bike again, but hell, if nothing else, our little collector now has a great tangible memory of her visit here to compensate for her bike ride nightmare. And one day, she’ll be duly impressed (perhaps after several years of psychological counseling) that she managed a 20-km bike ride when she was 7 years old.