Paris, Nous t' Aimerons Pour ToujoursOctober 11, 2017 in France
Someone once coined the famous saying that "all good things must come to an end". While I do not agree with the saying itself, it is nevertheless true that our 2017 European Adventures are now rapidly drawing to a close. Within 4 days we will begin the long journey back to our parallel universe in Australia.
Although the trip is coming to an end, the memories will last for a lifetime. I recently read the results of a research investigation into the sorts of things that bring lasting happiness. The results were very interesting. They showed that, while the "happiness" that comes from the acquisition of material things (fancy houses, cars, clothes and money) is very fleeting, the happiness that comes from travel lasts for many years. Even more surprising is the finding that the pleasure from travel actually increases, rather than decreases, with the passage of time. Over the past years I have certainly found this to be the case.
Yesterday we sadly bade a final farewell to Auray and caught the SNCF train to Paris Montparnasse. The train was "slow" until it reached Rennes (only between 150 - 180 kph), but then we joined the brand new Grand Vitesse (High Speed) line to Paris. For the next hour the train seldom dropped below 290 kph and was express all the way from Rennes to Paris. The total distance from Rennes to Paris was covered in less than an hour. Why oh why can't we build trains like that in Australia ?
After leaving Montparnasse Station we caught a taxi to take us to our hotel in the region of the Sorbonne and the Pantheon. The driver started chatting in very good English and told us that he had lived in Paris for the past 29 years, but would soon be going home to Portugal to work in his brother's restaurant in Porto. He was obviously very excited to be going home and more excited when I told him that I would be bringing a team of bike riders to ride in his country next year.
When I made the booking at The Hotel ST Jacques I had requested that we have a "quiet, non smoking room with a nice outlook". They must have taken this request quite literally. When we arrived at the hotel we were informed that our room was on the 6th floor. We would have to take the tiny elevator to the 5th floor and then navigate a narrow, spiral staircase into the roof space. It only took a few return trips in the lift to get us and our luggage to advanced base camp on the 5th floor and then I set about manhandling our bags up the staircase. About halfway up I almost dislocated my shoulder when I bashed it straight into the sloping roof.
By the time we reached le chambre trente, it made for an interesting discovery. Although the room was small (although larger than many other rooms we have stayed in in Paris) it did have a panoramic view over the surroundings. And what was that in the distance ??? It was the distinctive shape of Sacre Coeur Cathedral standing proudly on the Butte Montmartre. That almost made the climb worthwhile.
In the middle of the night I awoke and decided to stand on the balcony and see what was happening so many floors below. Although it was the wee small hours of the morning, there were quite a few people wandering about the streets. Some of the shops were still open. People were happily chatting and a few motor scooters were zooming their owners home. In the apartments opposite some of the lights were still on. As I have said many times before, Paris is NEVER boring (not even in the middle of the night).
Now that the ride is over I thought it might be time for a few rough statistics:
Total Number of Riders - 22
Number of Riders doing all 4 sections - 7
Total number of km ridden - well over 20,000 km
Places visited - Germany, Switzerland, France, Jersey, Guernsey and Sark
Number of different bikes used (in 4 sections) - 5
Type of Bikes - All were European Touring Bikes (quite heavy but well adapted for this type of riding), In sections 2 and 3 we had very good Specialised Brand bikes, many equipped with solid puncture proof tyres. In the Channel Islands the bikes were basically rubbish bikes that had not been serviced for decades (but this contributed much to the laughter)
Number of Injuries - 3 minor crashes, 2 falls into stinging nettles and one heart attack (and that was a first)
Number of different hotels stayed in - 27
Number of baguettes eaten - impossible to determine
Favourite cake - tarte citron avec meringue
Favourite place - St Malo
Favourite region of France - Brittany
Overall enjoyment rating - Excellent
I am so privileged to have been able to share this experience with so many wonderful people. We have grown to love you all deeply over the past few weeks and really appreciated your companionship and support.
Our next French ride is scheduled for 2019. If you are interested in being a part of it, you should let me know now.Read more