Days 19 & 20 – (September 9th & 10th)
I awoke in Gournay-en-Bray disheveled from a fitful night’s sleep complete with lucid dreams of my own demise. Must have been my body’s way of punishing me for subjecting it to 40 chicken nuggets in 5 minutes the day before.
Regardless of why it happened, there was no way I would be able to make it the whole way to Paris in one day. Therefore, after picking up a SIM card at the local wireless store that was finally open, I broke the remaining ride into the City of Lights up into two manageable blocks.
The first 45-mile block from Gourney-en-Bray to Pontiose was a beautiful ride though national parks and tree-lined farmlands. Halfway, I stopped outside Gisors to have lunch on the patio of a traditional farmhouse café. Inside, I was greeted by a whole group of hunters who only spoke French, yet had a keen interest in my bike. Through a mix of hand gestures and Spanish, I was able to tell them where I was going but they were still unable to grasp why. Apparently “because I can” does not translate well if you can’t speak French…
Recharged after the conversation with those hunters as well as a full roasted chicken & frites, I set off for Pontiose. Not far outside the city, I found out the hard way that Google Maps cannot be trusted in France as the recommended routes many times take you through nonexistent back-roads or through rugged farmlands only to shave of a mile or so. Thereafter I made the decision to stick to the small marked roads as much as possible.
The cobblestone road into Pontiose, while uncomfortable, afforded me unbelievable views of this ancient city originally founded by the Romans. The view of the Cathedral of Saint-Maclou, was wonderful from the Garden of Five Senses along the way to my hotel:
Exhausted, I went to sleep early so that I could make the 20-mile ride into Paris early the next day. I awoke refreshed and quickly plotted my descent into the City of Lights:
Aside from having to dodge an endless stream of steady traffic, the ride into Paris was quite easy and uneventful. However, once I arrived at La Défense on the outskirts of Paris, everything changed. I had been to this major business district before, yet never took the time to traverse it in its entirety and see how important it is to the City.
I could not get enough of La Défense, yet had to push on into Paris proper as I was meeting Angelique and Alexandra in the Victor Hugo area for an early dinner. Angelique’s parents were in town and treated us to a wonderful dinner as we all caught up with one another. After dinner, we had drinks and wandered around the beautiful Victor Hugo area and onto Champs-Élysées. What a wonderful way to end my first night in Paris!