Day Sixteen, August 6: Paris. - Forest, Beach, and River: A Solo Tour of Normandy - CycleBlaze

August 6, 2017

Day Sixteen, August 6: Paris.

The next day I had time to wander around Paris. Although Paris is not my favorite part of France, one thing I love about it is that usually, on any given day (but especially if it is a weekend) there is probably a top-tier classical concern happening somewhere, and August 6 did not disappoint. I found a late-afternoon a matinee performance of Russian ecclesiastical music at Saint-Louis-en-l'Île, a small (for Paris) Catholic Church on an island in the Seine; a choir of a dozen men who put on an amazing (and deafening, although it was not amplified) performance. Not the sort of thing I can usually find at home.

Russian singers at Eglise Saint-Louis-en-l'Île.
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When I got back home, it took me a week to re-acclimate and be even approximately in a normal frame of mind. Bike touring is a perpetual flow-state activity: all-day exercise, all-day novelty, with small but simple problems to solve. There is a connection with my body that you don't get from sitting in an office chair: how much further is it possible to go today? How much food do I need until there probably is another bakery or marché? It also put me out in the tangible world in a way that rarely occurs in everyday urban life, which often seems to revolve around only a few locations. It gives a sense of scale of the world: how far fifty miles is, how many people live there, how land is used by people, and how ecosystems shift over a distance of ten or a hundred miles. In the city, the sun is present, but sunset just means it is time to flip on a light switch. On tour, sunset means you better have found someplace to stay.

After a few months, reflecting on this trip it seems so different from ordinary life that it seems like maybe it was from a different phase of my life rather than last year, or perhaps a dream. However, the Jouhannets – the family that gave me a spoke for my wheel and a place to stay – and I have sent each other cards, and just last week I got a surprise package from France that was some gifts from Normandy from them; and dreams don’t send you gifts in the mail, I suppose.

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Suzanne GibsonThanks for sharing your trip here - I enjoyed every page and also your excellent photos! Looking forward to a journal with two toddlers some day.
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3 years ago
Joseph MorrisTo Suzanne GibsonAnd I'm looking forward to doing a trip with two toddlers someday. Hoping for one in 2020 when they are two and four!
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3 years ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesA really good summary page. The Jouhannets are also something you may not find every day in Oakland. The chances of running into people like that are greater on a bike. One time with a broken front Bike Friday wheel and stranded in a small town in Louisiana, a lady walked in to where we were staying, carrying a replacement wheel. She had been reading our blog. That was four years ago, but we have not lost contact with that wonderful person. I hope the same will be true for you of the Jouhannets.

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3 years ago