2009/11/23: To Paris 34km
17,051 kilometres and 22 countries in 10.5 months
We left the Hotel Campanile (yes, another one) near the dreaded Euro-Disney quite early. There may have been a certain romance to packing up and rolling away from a campsite in a wildflower meadow in Eastern Turkey, but there’s no romance to checking out of a bland hotel. We won’t miss these, although we do know how to eat into the Campanile’s profits by making three trips to the dessert buffet.
We found our way to the Marne River and followed it on a piste cyclable to the Bois de Vincennes. Our passage from suburbia into Paris proper was marked only by an unassuming sign beside a gas station where we asked the attendant to take our photo. When we told him where we’d begun our travels, he proceeded to announce our departure point to everybody in the gas station. We felt a bit giddy.
After a rather negative build up, cycling into Paris turned out to be not at all intimidating. There is a well developed transportation cycling culture here, so the drivers are suitably bike-aware, and there are markings on the road for cyclists to follow through complex intersections as well as to mark lanes shared with buses.
Anne and her daughter Alison were at the Cafe Francais in the Place de la Bastille. Alison is a professional photographer, and she documented our arrival. Both Anne and Alison embraced us, congratulated us, and welcomed us warmly. The mood was celebratory as we moved our scruffy belongings into Anne’s gracious apartment half a block from La Bastille, and stowed our faithful bikes under the spiral staircase of her apartment building.
So here we jolly well are. We’ve arrived in the City of Light.