Bertrand was our host at the beautiful city of Lyon. Until yesterday, he was a stranger to us… but we shared a common bond- the Ducati brand. So when he heard that we are planning a stopover at Lyon, Bertrand invited us to be his guest. This is the way of the French: they are warm, kind and very friendly… our past week in the French countryside, the numerous interactions and friends we made along our journey proved it many times over.
Based on my experience, I must admit that the French are often misunderstood. The French are friendly- but shy especially when they are not able to communicate easily. They have highly developed aesthetics- and from the commonest to the most elegant homes, they surround themselves with beauty: they also appreciate delicate sensibilities. I believe this combination of mild, shy nature, artistic inclinations and subtle cultural nuances define the French.
Bertrand Desgrippes, our host in Lyon was the President of the Ducati Club of their city. He and his wife Claire live in a quaint villa overlooking Lyon- and last evening they were joined by their long-time friends Sophie and Jerome Monjal. We also had a special appearance in the way of Bertrand’s son Julien who joined us from Paris with his wife Melanie. And the group was complete!
Bertrand and Jerome prepared dinner with typical French flair- delicious recipes, delicate wines, champagnes and we closed with more traditional desserts and coffee. The delicacies of French cuisine are designed to open up the mind- or so we realized as the conversation moved from history, politics, automobiles and riding experiences- to our personal stories.
It was again one such evening- when a warm embrace, an open heart, and a common love for the road bound us all together. The light was low, the music was mellow, the wine was light, the conversation was heady… and as I looked around me I knew I was home- surrounded by friends, surrounded by love.
And in my heart I murmured a silent prayer… “God bless you all, my kind friends and wonderful human beings”. You have taught me much about kindness and humility- just in this single evening.