Idling in Paris - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

April 28, 2022 to May 5, 2022

Idling in Paris

I'm back in Paris, idling for a bit between bike tours.  What follows is a recap of a couple of my outings over the past week -minimal cycling involved so feel free to skip ahead.

Château Vincennes and Bois de Vincennes

Two large wooded areas that flank the core metropolitan area of Paris are often referred to as the lungs of Paris: the Bois de Boulogne on the west and the Bois Vincennes on the east. Bois de Boulogne may be the more well-known of the two, but Bois Vincennes is actually the larger, about 3X the area of New York’s Central Park. Not knowing too much about the park, and at the urging of my friend Carla, I decided it was time to pay a visit.

I did little preparation for my trip to Bois de Vincennes, save for figuring out how to get to there. In fact, I knew so little about the park that I was utterly stunned when I exited the metro and came upon a very large medieval fortress and former royal residence, the The Château de Vincennes. Entrance was free, so I crossed the moat on a small bridge and passed through the portal into an expansive walled fortress containing a  Gothic chapel and one of the highest keeps in Europe. The keep, or donjon, was a royal residence for 500 years, until Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles. It later became a prison, housing the likes of Marquis de Sade and Mata Hari, before she was executed in the castle moat. 

I lingered at the Chateau for a bit then made my over to the more bucolic areas of the park. Not really sure of where I was going, I headed for the equestrian center and found myself in a fairly wooded section with paved and dirt paths heading off in different directions. I came across a Velib station so I hopped on a bike and took off, criss-crossing through the woods in a fairly random fashion. Like many Paris parks, there were pony rides, ponds with ducks, and large open areas for playing games or lolling about. Plenty of folks were enjoying the great outdoors on this sunny Saturday - strolling, jogging, roller blading, cycling. But Bois de Vincennes has so much more – as I later learned. Things I missed include the Grande Pagode Buddhist with a 30-foot-high golden Buddha and the Parc Floral de Paris, an 86 acre botanical garden. However, both the Paris Jazz Festival and Classique au Vert, Paris’s summer classical music festival, are held in Bois de Vincennes each summer, so a return visit may well be in order. 

Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, within the walls of the Château Vincennes
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Interior of Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes 
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Another view of Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes 
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The French flag flies over the Château Vincennes keep, which rises 50 meters above ground level
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The base of the keep, reaching down to the moat that surrounds the fortress
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The grassy area surrounding the castle, and perhaps the moat itself, are now sheep-grazing areas. I thought it interesting that the sign was in English, not French. An admonition to tourists, perhaps
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I'll let you live your sheep life only after I get a picture
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Cruising through Bois de Vincennes on my Velib
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Pony rides!
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Playing games and lolling about
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Roller-bladers regrouping spot
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Plenty of cyclists - serious sorts in spandex as well as Velib riders like me. Looks like a nice place to take Vivien George out for a extended ride on the car-free park roadways
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Le Petit Prince

One of the most memorable books of my youth was The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  It probably wasn't a childhood read - it may have been in high school or college, but it was in the 60s when myself and others were searching for a new way of looking at the world, of believing that "important things can only be seen with the heart, not the eyes."

 A current exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is focused on Le Petit Prince, with over 600 pieces recounting and celebrating the life and talents of  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a poet, a writer, and an aviator.  I couldn't miss it. It was a wonderful afternoon, rekindling memories of the Prince's small planet and the many enchanting drawings that grace the book, such as the boa constrictor who ate the elephant - a drawing always interpreted by grown-ups as a hat. I left the museum with a coffee mug, postcards and a new companion for Vincent and Ace - adding Le Petit Prince to my growing family of museum mementos and cycling companions. 

My day was further brightened on the walk home along the car-free Rue de Rivoli and through the Tuileries Garden ablaze with purple irises. A nice way to spend some time between cycling tours.

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Keith AdamsEarly steam punk!
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3 months ago
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My drawing does not represent a hat, it depicts a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. So then I drew the inside of the boa constrictor so that grown-ups could understand. They always need explanations. Image from New York Heritage Digital Collection https://cdm16694.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15281coll76/id/779/
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Along the Rue de Rivoli, one of the main commercial streets in central Paris, where cars are permanently banned. The only vehicles allowed are taxis, buses, and delivery trucks - all limited to a single lane.
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Purple was the color of the day in Jardin de Tuileries
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A bee getting it's nectar in Jardin de Tuileries
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In Jardin de Tuileries
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Two parts of the alignment - Arc de Triomphe and Obelisk at Place de la Concorde
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Jardin de Tuileries
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Le Petit Prince joins the family and is ready to ride
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Rachael AndersonWow, a new family member!
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3 months ago
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Lucy MartinWhat a great day!
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3 months ago