Once upon a time in Paris
If you are crossing France you do not need a map. The capital by some strange sort of coincidence will always be on your way.
I still have about two days before my friend’s wedding. The venue is in Beauvais near Paris, so I decide explore that area for the next couple of days. By the way, Beauvais is a nice town. One can find a large recreational park, several lakes, interesting trails for running and even tiny river for refreshing bath after evening run.
Being in the area I decide to go for a day trip to Paris. I leave my van in Persan, an hour’s drive to the north to avoid traffic jams and big city stress. I plan to return for the night, but as you know – anything can happen, so I cannot exclude alternative scenarios.
The train takes me to Gare du Nord station, from where it is easy to catch a metro towards the Eiffel Tower. Allegedly it is a famous tourist attraction, it is what I’ve heard at least…
Today, on the 3rd July 2015 as it will turn out later, the authorities will record the hottest day in Paris since 1947. Great news, isn’t it? A perfect day for sightseeing.
On my may I meet one Mexican lady who offers me a lift with her bicycle cab. She looks a bit fatigued so I spare her the trouble.
At the base of the Eiffel Tower, to my disappointment, I find out that it is not possible to run the stairs up to the top. Visitors are only allowed to walk up to about a third of the height. Looks like I’m going to have to wait until Chamonix with some descent ascends. I’m not a big fan of using elevators either, therefore, especially keeping in mind that there is roughly one million another tourists in front of me waiting for their turn to take a lift, I decide to drop the idea of visiting Eiffel Tower.
I meet with Apolline, a good friend who lives in Paris. It turns out that she, being a native Parisian, has never been to the Eiffel Tower. Just like most of her friends. Looks like if you have something handy and readily available so you can see it every day, why would you need to actually visit it?
Apo invites me for a tour of Paris as seen through her eyes. We move to the north-eastern part of the city. As we walk along the Canal de l’Ourcq we find a perfect place for a lunch break and a beer. Every now and then there are boats cruising the canal. Each of them has to cross a series of locks and dams, a process that is an interesting spectacle.
Canal de l’Ourcq joins the Seine through the Canal Saint-Martin, which passes the Place de la République underground. It’s a perfect square to sit back and watch the world go by as you drink a beer.
We continue our stroll and find one special place that from the outside looks like an ordinary house…
…and it happens to look just like an ordinary house from the inside too!
In fact, it is an original interior design idea for a bar. In this way, you can arrange a meeting with friends and have a beer in bathroom or drink some rosé in interestingly arranged kitchen.
In the evening I visit Camille, a travel mate with whom I shared many adventures in Peru and Colombia. I love reunions with old friends – especially on different continents. I’m just in time for a really nice local cuisine diner prepared by Camille’s roommates. We enjoy it on a spacious patio. Camille’s housemates have also recently found one bottle of wine dated back to 1979. We drink it despite its sour taste pretending to be connoisseurs and sommeliers. We finish off the wine and a couple of beers and go biking through the city towards Seine. We arrive to a stretch of riverside which is looks like a five kilometer long boulevard turned into a massive open air party.
After that evening, there is still a crazy and exhausting bicycle ride in the middle of the night, to that end mostly uphill. As we’re arriving home, Camille grabs his guitar and we walk to the nearby Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, where we spread out on the grass and enjoy the rest of the night with other people in the park playing guitar until everybody is too tired not to fall asleep.
Po takiej nocy ciężko się zebrać na wesele, ale jak tylko docieram do Beauvais pojawiają się nowe siły. Wesele polsko-francuskie wypada znakomicie – chyba za sprawą ciekawego połączenia tradycji obu krajów.
The next day I drive south. I spend the night in Troyes long the way. Then, as soon as I wake up I feel the same drive that guides salmon to instinctively follow his ways. The voice inside tells me to go to the Alps.