La Mini Passagere: Across France with an Infant (Videos)
In this beautifully shot and edited video series, filmmaker Jeanne Lepoix captures her three-month, 4,500-kilometer family tour across France with her partner Xavier and young daughter Zoé. Find all six installments of “La Mini Passagère” here, plus photos from around the country and an introduction to the trip from Jeanne…
Words, photos, and videos by Jeanne Lepoix (@jeannelepoix)
Xavier and I are passionate about cycling adventures. Together, we’ve traveled on the roads of Scotland, the paths of Cuba, and the tracks of Iceland. We love off-roading and off-the-beaten-path routes. The year 2020 marked a major change for us, as we took on a new passenger, Zoé. After cycling nearly 8,000 kilometers in the womb, she discovered her country, France, during her first three-month trip.
Our objective was simple: leave to get to one another other better, invent a new life for the three of us, see our daughter grow up, enjoy these precious moments, and create some first memories on the road. We progressed through wild regions with the force of our calves and stopped to camp whenever we got tired. Becoming young parents doesn’t need to break your dreams of escape and doing something bigger than yourself. The day we left, Zoé was just 10 months old. Even if she doesn’t remember it, we’re convinced that she’ll be marked by this trip and that it will help forge her character.
The greatest difficulty was pedalling up the many high passes with the small one, the trailer, and all the gear. There were moments of great effort, but each view and every smile made it worth it. Beyond that, managing the logistics around a child is certainly challenging and something to consider in all aspects of the trip. This journey was definitely unlike any other before it: we took breaks for baby bottles, diaper changes, and playtime to participate in her development. The road was punctuated by our daughter’s needs, and we loved watching her evolve in this adventurous atmosphere.
The route started in Roscoff in the west of the country and ended in Strasbourg in the east, following the borders as closely as possible. With a creative eye, you might say it resembles a smile tracing the sides and bottom of the country.
The Vélodyssée is a bicycle route that runs along the Atlantic Ocean to the foot of the Pyrenees, and it was an excellent warm-up before beginning to climb up mountains. To avoid the hustle and bustle of the Mediterranean during the summer, we enjoyed more quiet and wild places such as the Causses, the Cévennes, and the Ardèche. We made the mythical passage over Mt. Ventoux before going back down through the Luberon and the Verdon and facing the Haute Route des Alpes, a superb route that crosses the region through the greatest alpine passes. The Jura and the Vosges closed this long epic in the best way possible.
You can find the videos I created to document each segment of our journey below, along with a brief summary and a handful of photos. I hope you enjoy them!
As a route of a little more than 1,200 kilometres along the Atlantic coast, Vélodyssée was the perfect warm-up, and it formed the left part of our smile across France.
Crossing of the Pyrenees
This part of our family tour crossed the highest part of the Pyrenees from east to west along a magnificent road. It was quite a challenge with our many kilos of luggage and trailer.
Causses & Cevennes
Next, we traveled across the wide open spaces and wild places of the Grands Causses and the Cévennes. It was defined by granite landscapes, arid plateaus, high canyons, and our off-the-beaten-track itinerary in search of healing and some freedom.
It’s not easy to make choices when visiting Provence, as the region is immense, and the points of interest are numerous and diverse. Between oceans of lavender, lakes, and gorges, the area’s nature abounds with contrasts, colors, and scents.
Crossing the Alps
Our next objective was to cross the Alps and some of its legendary summits with names that resonate among all cyclists. Their names and shapes are ingrained in our collective imagination as bicycle lovers, and we couldn’t help but picture the Tour de France riders of bygone years as we pedaled along. Xavier and I had talked about riding over the Alps many times in the past, but I don’t think we ever pictured doing it with a child in tow. This part of the trip was as difficult as it was beautiful, and we left many litres of sweat out there.
Jura & Vosges
On the last part of our smile across the map of France, we rode across two mountain ranges with exceptional natural heritage: the Jura and the Vosges. It was an entry into a magical universe with enchanting lakes, waterfalls, and misty mountains.
You can see more from Jeanne, Xaier, and Zoé’s three-month ride over at LaMiniPassagere.com.
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