Before catching the train to Paris, I had time for one last visit to the market (the French are so civilized — allowing one to shop for food on a Sunday morning!). On the way to Les Halles I walked the bike through the areas where the flower market had been yesterday. Today, instead of a flower market, it was a flea market. Since I had no room to stuff anything more onto my bike (or me!), I just enjoyed looking.
At Les Halles, I bought cheese and salami and bread and raspberries for a train pic-nique. One last stop at the supermarket for water and then back to the hotel to pick up the rest of my stuff.
Happily, the Aqualys train to Paris was way more comfortable than the one last week coming in—real bike hangers! One thing that has struck me as remarkable this week is that the French train conductors, unlike their German counterparts, seem singularly uninterested in checking tickets—they just wander through the trains and sort of look around.
Upon arrival in Paris I headed out of Gare d’Austerlitz and headed for the Seine, about a block away. It was totally cool, riding directly along the river, passing by the Louvre and Notre Dame. Eventually, though, the cobblestones became really pointy and rough and I couldn’t ride anymore, so I had to walk the bike for a couple of kilometers and then, much to my chagrin, carry it up a long set up stairs. (Now remember, the bike weighs 14kg and it’s carrying 10-12kg bike packs and I’m wearing a backpack—oh, and it’s 90 degrees.)
Because of the longer than anticipated time along the Seine, my plans for visiting the Eifel Tower had to be nixed, so I headed right across the next bridge over the Seine in the general direction of the Gare de l’est. I say general direction because I didn’t have a map with me. So much for being organized.
Fortunately, I’ve visited Paris enough time to roughly have a sense of where things are. I stopped once behind some very official-looking Building where there were loads of police and asked for directions and this very nice policewoman took off her cap and pulled a map out of it (!) and showed me the way.
I arrived at Gare de l’est with plenty of time to spare and had a chance to replenish my beverages before the long train ride.
What a great vacation! Being on the bike, one is so open to the landscape and the people—and people are generally very friendly towards those of us on bikes. And I truly enjoyed being alone, stopping to take pictures or a drink of water or rest whenever I wanted, striking up conversations with others and meeting interesting people.
Can’t wait for the next time!