With the early arrival of summer sun and the scheduled annual return of tourist flocks this weekend was a good time to explore unexplored parts of Paris.
This city, while maddening at times just as frequently offers elements that comprise the best of urban living. At the top of the list of brilliance is Velib’, the now much duplicated bike sharing scheme.
The Velib’ system and my scan card were reason to arrange an adventure. While Paris is about 8 intimate KMs across, the circumference was a mystery to me, much because of the fortress of automotivity La Periphique. A modern fortress wall ringing the city.
The mission was simple, circle the outermost reaches of the city. The areas many cross but few notice. An exercise in nothing more than fulfilling curiosity. Tracked by reapplying the app Skitracks.
La Tour de Paris started with a short Prologue from home to the dry cleaner. Just to get the legs going and complete a quick chore
From my cleaner near Centre Pompidou the second stage finished at Bercy Park. Once the sprawling wine warehouse district it was “modernized” in the 90’s to a centre of chain restaurants and dull shops.
The charm of Paris was abruptly lost as the Eastern edges of the city host heavy industry on the banks of La Seine. Home to the plants, that make the aggregates, that make the foundation on top of which the gorgeous zinc bars of St. Germain sits so confidently.
A comforting return to Haussmann fingerprints as 6 story buildings stand at attention lining the boulevards. This stage finished dramatically at the ancient book market where I furthered my collection of old original sports photography and journals.
Some amazing shots from 1927 to 1929 editions of Le Mirior des Sports.
This was also the first feeding station as heralded baker Poilân has one of their three shops here in this most distant of outposts where vendors wonder how you discovered them.
One of the longest stages along the massive boulevard housing the above ground tram, its lawn and superb vacant bike lanes. Great cruising right across the Western reaches of La Seine.
Where Bois de Vincennes on the East side is the classy park, Bois de Boulogne on the West of the city up against the ritziest of neighbourhoods is certainly the sleazy older brother. Renown for the peering eyes of prostitutes lining the forest edges.
The first mountain stage, climbing behind Montmartre was unremarkable except for the vibrant Turkish neighbourhood at the end serving as the second feeding stop. The Turkish lemon soda that seemed to be a good idea, was a bad idea.
While one almost always feel truly safe anywhere in Paris this is the one area you are likely a bit on edge. Housing tenements, shoeless prostitutes and homeless men guzzling 1 Euro bottles of wine over Backgammon atop carbord box tables. The forgotten corners of Paris.
From the upper-right reaches on the well redeveloped canals of Port de Villette the second mountain stage with long long stretches of ripped up boulevards and car chocked roads.
While hundreds heavily armed riot police keep casual eye on a protest it was time to conclude they way many things end, or start in France. Avec une verre de champagne.
So, that was the inaugural Tour de Paris. If you come to Paris on vacation there certainly are better things to do. If you want to see the unknown parts of Paris on the most low performance but high style bikes going, well I can only say “bonne courage.” You will finds markets no book writes about, thriving ethnic communities and quaint neighbourhoods that seem worlds away from the centrall masses of Paris.
The distance? 50.7KM.