Fri 26th April.
First day in Paris.
I took my time getting up, adjusting to the morning.
Calire had gone to work at 7 and Max was around doing things in the flat. They left me a key and asked that I get back around 5pm, an hour before they would leave.
I tuned in to my friend Kit’s show on NTS and listened to London while looking at Paris. I didn’t have a place to stay for that night, so was trying to sort that out, again avoiding the hostel. I had just about convinced a guy on CouchSurfer to put me up. He was east in the outskirts of the city, but after a morning of emails, I had a place to stay and could relax and go see the infamous city.
I went out on the bike, at first just pottering about in the north districts, but decided not to waste to much time and get into some meat, seeing the hotspots with a map from Claire.
I cycled around the Arch D’Triomphe, one of Europe’s most busiest roundabouts I’m certain. It was like a whirlpool of cars, some of them cutting you up, forcing you to go with them.
Before long I got off, spoke to some English tourists from the Midlands and watched some Asain tourists repeatedly try and get the perfect ‘jumping in front of something famous while looking super happy’ photo for their various different online profiles, taking it in turns to do so. I felt weird and left.
The Eiffel tower was next. It was much better then I was expecting and bronze!? I always thought it was a grey steel colour. As if seeing the tower wasn’t enough, it’s also worth going to see how long people I willing to queue to go up a lift.
Enough cynicism, I got down to have a look at the Louvre and it’s ‘invisible’ pyramid. Ho ho. It was okay. I felt like you’d have to go in to really get why it was so famous, but I couldn’t with the bike and the time.
Lastly, I popped over to Notre Dame so, if I never went back to Paris again (seemingly attractive idea at the time) I wouldn’t feel let down when quizzed on what I went to go and see. It was another beautiful Cathedral, swarming with tourists. One that caught my ear was a paunchy American brag about being in front of Notre Dame and here on a stag do. This guy was like in his mid-forties. I think him and his clan were going to Amsterdam too before flying back. It made me think of how much money Americans have, how freely they spend it.
I fought through the crowd there and left as quickly as I could. Tourism it seems was becoming seemingly less popular and a paradox that would be a vice on my sightseeing activities. Especially with a bike. Should I rule it out altogether?!?
I got back to the flat, returned the key, packed the back up, took advice on the best way of getting to Montreuil in the east, outside of the Boulevard Périphérique, Paris’s mini M25 equivalent, which I would follow to Montreuil.
I got to my hosts house with some beers and got in for the night. Bike in the cellar, bags upstairs. I was getting used to the process.
He cooked I nice meal and we had a 1999 Bordeaux wine, I felt very privileged, it was amazing, the most depth and body I’d tasted in a wine. After we had a few beers and started snoozing while watching the Jules Holland equivalent Friday night, French telly.