Ready or Not - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

April 2, 2022 to April 3, 2022

Ready or Not

Saturday, April 2

I never unpacked my bags for Spain. Vivien George stayed in her traveling case and my gear remained ensconced in their various dry sacks. Consequently, my packing list for Italy is short and is mostly centered on unpacking, on lightening the load in deference to my ankle. There wasn’t much excess baggage, but I did eliminate a couple of clothing items and some accessories. The bags are ready to go.  

 The biggest item not ready is me, my body. Rather than racking up the training miles, I’ve spent most of the last month on a couch idly indulging in baguettes and cheese. Yes, the ankle is a concern, but so is my overall biking fitness. I’ve been desperate to get on a bicycle.

 It had stopped raining by Saturday morning, and although the cold persisted it promised to be a great day for some cycling. It was just about 40°F when I ventured out at 10 am to check out the brocante (flea market) taking place in the neighborhood. It was toasty in the sun, but cold and wind cut to the bone when clouds passed by. I hurried home for another cup of coffee

 By noon I could wait no more - I checked out a Velib bike headed for central Paris. I quickly remembered how much I enjoy cycling through the streets of Paris. My route took me past the gold dome of Les Invalides and the Musée Rodin Sculpture Garden, with both statues and onlookers visible beyond the wrought iron fence. I parked the bike behind the Musée d’Orsay and set out on foot, crossing the Seine on the Passerelle Léopold Sédar-Senghor. I’d intended to follow my usual route through the Jardin des Tuileries, but the  quai along the Seine looked too inviting. 

Cycling past Les Invalides with Tour Eiffel on the left
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Outside the Musée d'Orsay
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Scott AndersonHe looks so happy!
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4 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonElephants have the best smiles!
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4 months ago
The lure of a walk along the quai
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Dropping down to the river’s edge was an excellent choice. The flanking wall not only protected me from the fierce north wind but also provided a bit of radiant heat. And it was a delightful promenade.

I walked almost two miles along the quai, stopping on occasion to bask in the sun or to snap a photo, but mostly just enjoying the views up, down, and across the river. Tourist numbers have increased, as evidenced by the variety of languages heard and the number of sightseeing boats. But it was fairly peaceful along the quai, a thin strip of relative calm below street level.

Along the Seine
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Musée d'Orsay from across the Seine, announcing upcoming exhibits of Gaudi and Maillol
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Strolling along the Seine - at least I'm strolling
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Gone fishing
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Les Ateliers Vélo Solidaires is an organization that rescues, repairs, and recycles discarded bikes. They also have workshops where folks can come in and learn to repair their own bikes.
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I passed under the three bridges that cross the Seine to Île de la Cité before finally leaving the quai and walking up and over to Île Saint-Louis. I’d wanted to keep going but it had become a bit cloudy and a little too cold. I found a Velib station behind Notre Dame Cathedral and headed home.

Pont Notre Dame
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The tourist boat passes the gap between Île de la Cité (right) and Île Saint-Louis, with Tour Montparnesse in the background
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Along the Seine
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Looking across the Seine to Île Saint-Louis
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On Île Saint-Louis
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View of Notre Dame Cathedral from Île Saint-Louis
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In all, I’d managed about 5.5 mi of biking and 2 mi walking. Later that afternoon I added another mile of each when I went to Carla’s house for coffee. All went well and I am quite pleased – it’s not touring but it’s a start.

Red lines are cycling, blue are walking
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Sunday, April 3

Another day of sunshine to close out Paris, Part I of my adventure. It is also the first Sunday of the month, which means many museums are free and a number of roads are closed to vehicles. The museums will be here in May, it’s time to bike.

Carla had been a bit skeptical yesterday when we discussed car-free Sundays in Paris. I’d read that roads in Arrondissements 1-4 would be traffic free, and she said a number of other roads would also be closed to traffic, including the Champs Élyssées. However, she warned, the streets fill with pedestrians, strollers, scooters, and dogs – none of whom are looking out for cyclists. Undeterred, I set my sights on the Champs Élyssées.

 My vision of cycling up the Champs Élyssées toward the Arc de Triomphe was not realized. Today was the day of the Paris Marathon, which started earlier this morning on the Champs Élyssées. By the time I got to the famed boulevard, it was largely fenced off and city trucks were busy picking up debris and washing the cobbles.

 I parked the Velib and headed up the boulevard towards the Arc de Triomphe on foot, past the lines of people waiting to enter Louis Vuitton, past the enormous Dior façade. I reached the end of the fencing and walked out to the middle of the boulevard. And, as Carla had said, the streets began to fill with pedestrians, strollers, scooters – though I didn’t see a dog.

Arc de Triomphe on car-free Sunday
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View down Champs Èlyssées toward Place de la Concorde. The trucks are picking up trash from the Paris Marathon which started here earlier this morning
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Two early finishers of the Paris Marathon
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My next destination was the Palais Garnier, but I got on the wrong street and headed northeast rather than southeast. No worries, it was a new part of the city for me, one a bit more wealthy than my neighborhood. I detoured on foot through the lovely Parc Monceau and flanking streets before finding another Velib station and heading home. As I cycled through Place de la Concorde and the now-shrouded Obelisk of Luxor, I briefly watched the tail end of the Paris Marathon as it passed under the Pont de la Concorde. Crossing back over the Seine, I was on the more familiar streets of the 7th and 15th Arrondissements and made quick time back to home.

In Parc Monceau
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In Parc Monceau
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Église Saint-Augustin
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Toward the tail end of the Paris Marathon - you're almost finished!
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Suzanne GibsonI always love watching the Marathon stragglers. I think they have worked the hardest.
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4 months ago
Susan CarpenterAgree - and they always seem to have the most enthusiastic onlookers cheering them on
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4 months ago

By the time I reached home I’d put another 6+ miles on the bike, making a total of 14 miles for the weekend. I actually think cycling is better for the ankle than walking! Can't wait to do some more two-wheeled therapy.

Read lines are cycling, blue are walking
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Today's ride: 14 miles (23 km)
Total: 15 miles (24 km)

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Sandra LawnHi Susan
I like the way you are using the Velib, Paris Hire bikes which I have seen but not used, felt it was too much trouble figuring it out how ever you’ve inspired me to use them when/if I visit Paris again, or for that matter any major city with hire bikes.

Useful information about traffic free roads 1st of the month in Paris.

Thanks
Sandra

Ps I have visited Paris twice your photos are bringing back good memories…..just might have to visit again
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesYes, these Paris ramblings are wonderful. And Arc de Triomphe without cars is a triumph.
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4 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Sandra LawnSandra - if you happen to make it to Paris this year let me know. I’d be happy to give you a Velib tour
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4 months ago
Rich FrasierSo glad you're out exploring and riding a bit. Your pictures are making me homesick for Paris. You caught it on a couple of great days for photos!
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4 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThanks Steve - I’m looking forward to biking up the entire boulevard later this summer, crowds and all
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4 months ago
Kathleen JonesIt’s certainly been my experience that cycling is better for rebuilding ankle strength. My ankle ligaments are like rubber bands I’ve sprained them so much. But I could always ride, since the motion is different.

On to Italy!
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4 months ago