As I mentioned on Monday, I was in Paris for a week (I just got home last night) visiting a friend and helping her (hopefully) sort through a few things following her husband’s unexpected death in November.
Although I was there for those two main reasons, I also brought along some cycling gear and was able to get out for a few rides while I was there–the weather was absolutely perfect. Looking back, it probably would have been smarter to have brought my own bike and taken a train out of town a bit, but for the most part, I stayed within the confines of the city.
Paris, like any big city, is a bit tricky when it comes to riding a bike but the city has made great strides in making it more cyclist-compatible (particularly since the pandemic, apparently). Still, it is not for the faint of heart and certainly not something I would advise doing during rush hour (which I did the day after I arrived, a big mistake).
I did manage to play the tourist a bit while out riding, though, snapping a few photos of some of the monuments around town. These are not among the best photos that I have taken in the French capital, however, as it is tough to get “just the right shot” when you are stopped at a light for a few seconds with a tiny Frenchman in his minuscule Peugeot laying on his horn behind you because he had to wait an additional three seconds and feels like a tough guy behind the wheel.
The trip started, of course, with a flight to Charles de Gaulle airport, which is always a bit of a crapshoot. That was certainly the case this time around as my flight from Chicago to Paris was delayed for four hours. We spent every one of those minutes on the plane, on the tarmac as they looked into several different problems with the airplane. At one point, there was a spontaneous concert that broke out with two passengers, one on the guitar, the other with a violin, hitting it hard in hour number three.
While they were quite good, the whole thing took place right over my left shoulder. That means my ugly mug is in every photo and every video taken during the event. Ugh. All I need is to become a meme (“Look at the guy in front, he is not pleased”).
On the plane. Literally right over my left shoulder. I just wanted to watch my movie…
I was staying just off Place des Victoires, on the border of the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements and the site where I once won a $400 billion bet.
On the first ride, I attempted to get out of town and ride down to Versailles. I started here, at La Place de la Republique where the #rd, 10th, and 11th arrondissements come together.
Next was Place de la Bastille, which is a madhouse at all times, but during rush hour? Yikes.
I made it as far as La Tour Eiffel on that first ride (which is not very far) before turning around. It was not so much the vehicular traffic (which was significant) but the other cyclists (who had no idea what they were doing), the scooters (which are just annoying), and the skateboarders (which, like skateboarders everywhere, should probably be shot).
I came back via La Place de la Concorde, one of my favorites, but it is wide-open and a bit of a free-for-all but not nearly as bad as the Arc de Triomphe (see below).
On my second ride, I made it to Versailles but took few pictures other than this one. It was not all that far (30 miles round trip), but I felt that I needed proof.
I came back into Paris along the Seine, by the Eiffel Tower and the mini-Statue of Liberty.
A birthday party in the 19th included some foosball where my niece (essentially) tried to convince the camera she won (she didn’t).
The party included a bunch of champagne…
…one of which I sabered with my iPhone.
There was other champagne, of course, including a few bottles of Mailly Grand Cru.
A Cuvée Louise.
A Drappier Brut Nature…
…and a 2000 Mailly Les Echansons (among many others).
My “niece” was part of an incredible performance at L’Opéra Comique, which is a remarkable venue.
Not champagne, but pretty darned incredible.
One of my rides started in the Louvre courtyard, by the I.M. Pei pyramide.
Then past Notre Dame (still under a massive restoration after the horrible fire)…
Then a climb up to the Panthéon…
…and this church whose name I should know, but there are just too many.
Past the Tour one more time…
…then onto L’Arc de Triomphe which has to be the craziest traffic circle in the world.
Back down Les Champs-Élysées (very bumpy)…
…and through La Concorde again where much of the scaffolding had come down.
A random tiny parc in the 2nd(?).
On my last night, we opened (among others) this fairly incredible magnum of Côtes-du-Rhône from 2003.
Well, that pretty much sums it up. Can’t wait to get back….