1: The TGV and riding across Paris

Just getting on to the TGV was an adventure. The entry was wide enough for a fully-loaded bike, but the bike places were not quite what I expected — simply bikes strapped against folded-up seats. And of course two families’ worth of luggage was standing in the way. It took 10 minutes to get it all organized, which wasn’t made any easier because of the language difficulties… English, French, Italian, German…

On the one side it’s great that it’s only 5 ½ hours from Augsburg-Paris but on the other side I guess I’d imagined the TGV being a bit more comfortable. Between the dark purple upholstery that makes the cabin seem smaller and the noisy families and the aromatic toilet (not dirty, just smelly), this isn’t quite the luxury ride I’d imagined. It’s really not as nice as an ICE.

The train arrived in Paris at 12:30 and I made my somewhat leisurely way across town, stopping several times to check street names (good that I had detailed "via Michelin" directions) and take pictures. I’m glad the trip across town wasn’t longer because I was really starting to sweat under my backpack.

The train to Blois was a bit faster than a puddle jumper and had really no official bike compartment. I just stuck the bike in the luggage storage area and sat as close to it as I could. It was hot and crowded and the train jiggled back and forth like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Am I having fun yet?

I arrived in Blois at about 3:30 and I checked in and got situated at the hotel, then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the town center and down to the riverbank, where I had my first contact of the week with the Loire. At about 5 I paused for a glass of wine on the place in front of the Chateau and did a bit of people-watching.

Dinner… a poem… found a restaurant in my Michelin Green Guide. Aumoniere de Langoustines et Legumes… Langoustines under a cap of thin and crusty puff pastry posed on a bed of perfectly cooked julienned vegetables. And the sauce, oh my, a fish-butter sauce with a divine aroma. I sopped up every last bit of it with the divine baguette. I do love France.

After dinner I took a walk through town in the fading light. Walking up the twisty stone stairs towards the cathedral I was completely alone and it felt somehow very medieval. I wrapped up the evening sitting on the lovely terrace in front of the hotel drinking (yet another) bottle of Badoit.

Day 1

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