I walked out the door into the cool streets of Courbevoie, inhaling the damp air, looking for some new, fresh wonder to eat. With my bike in hand, I cycled quickly around the block, to discover a bakery I had somehow missed. I picked up a tart and a croissant, and made my way back to the park to eat. To my surprise, the clouds had still not broken over the city after 4 days. I relaxed and ate, enjoying every bite.
Then I set off to my first destination: Cycles Alex Singer. I made my way Northeast, parallel with the Sienne, until I dropped South, and moved closer to Paris itself. The traffic in this area was busy, but not quite as hectic as downtown traffic would be. I glided along the bike paths, and quickly arrived at the first bike shop. I locked Doris up, and went in to inquire about a front rack. They requested that I bring my bike in; I happily obliged. They grabbed a couple of options that looked more like baskets, and basket holders, which was not at all what I needed. I thanked them, and departed for another shop. Holland Bikes did not give me any better options.
My next query was at 18 Velo Vintage. I had to climb an immense hill to get there. It wove back and forth across the hill; the streets got narrower and narrower, shifting from asphalt to cobblestone to even older stone. At some point, I looked to my right, and saw a old church. I figured–what better place to stop for a rest. I had stumbled upon an incredible church the Sacre Coeur, with one of the best views of Paris.
The construction began in 1875, and was finished in 1914, so it’s a relatively young building. I cycled around to a bench, and sat overlooking Paris, listening to a street musician. After relaxing for some time, I hopped back in the saddle, making my way to the bike shop. This one was closed–just my luck.
I headed farther into Paris, with the idea of finding some camping supplies. I needed a sleeping mat, and possibly a small gas cooking stove. I got to the address, and discovered that this place was a camping-holiday planning location. At this point, it was raining, and I was ready to rest before I began my bicycle tour. I decided that I would visit the Arc de Triomphe, and then head to the Grand Arche de la Defence, before heading home for the afternoon. I looked for bike and camping shops, with absolutely no luck.
When I arrived at the Arc de Triomphe I saw that there was some kind of military or political ceremony going on, so the Arc itself was blocked off, and the surrounding 2 blocks were gated to vehicles. I discovered later that the President of South Korea was paying tribute to the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, as well as celebrating the 130th year of diplomatic ties between the two countries. I stuck around for a little while to see the event before departing to the G.A.D.L.D. (Grand Arche de la Defence).
The ride to the G.A.D.L.D. was pleasent. The bike paths merged with the street often, and it was nice to become a part of the rhythm of the city once again. I made it across the bridge and to the G.A.D.L.D., but there was no clear route to get back to the flat. Even google was confused. I had to start to cycle around the lower sections, and the creepy parking garages. I finally found an elevator that took me to the canopies of apartment buildings which had a path leading back to the road following along the Seine. All in all, that day I cycled close to 20 miles. I really consider this the true start to my bicycle tour.
Thankfully, when I arrived, I had the flat to myself. I heated up the rest of the food that would need refrigeration, and had a small feast. I started planning the details of the bike tour at this point. I decided that I would head to Tours, instead of Orlean. I plugged this into my gps map cycle streets app, and then started looking around the 50-60 mile mark for a camp site. I fell asleep with the happy anxiety one feels before beginning a adventure.
So concludes my time in Paris. Some days, I wish I would have planned more time in this city that is its own little universe. Other days, I think I was there the perfect amount of time, taking in the perfect dose, and leaving right before the flooding and riots got worse. The memories of this place have a hazy, dream-like quality that I will always remember fondly.
Thanks, as always, for reading! I hope this was inspiring in some way! The next few post will be covering my bicycle tour
Here is the photo albums for reference/inspiration