Monday, May 7, 2012

Biking in Paris

05/07, Monday
We tried breakfast at our hotel. Nothing special except the price, 8€ each.

Then, off to meet the Fat Tire Bike Ride at the Eiffel Tower. Our tour is led by Karl, a kiwi, who has lived in Paris fo 6 years. The employees of the company all speak very good English, and many are students (one 25 year-old woman from Portland, ME, is an Art History major at the American University here). While we were waiting for everyone to arrive the guide told us lots of fun facts about the Eiffel Tower like Mr Eiffel recouped his investment in the tower in 6 months and then enjoyed 19 and 1/2 years of pure profit before handing it over to the city. Also when having a contest for the landmark the second place idea was a giant guillotine which doesn't seem as classy !

Karl has a good knowledge of French history, especially about Napolean, Louis XIV-XV-XVI (XIV built Paris, XV enjoyed it, XVI payed for it with his life by guillotine) and the Revolution of 1789. He has lots of stories and facts to entertain us and it is nice group of people. Again great bikes and very comfortable seats. The weather really cooperated too. Super ride !

Some of the sites we passed include: Ecole de Militaire (where Napolean was a student at age 15, also deGalle); the peace monument, which is in a direct line of the Eiffel tower and has several glass panels symbolizing how fragile peace is. It won't be completed until there is world peace. We biked passed Napoleons tomb, which was first built as a church and has a pure gold dome top. Then we rode by and over several ornate bridges, all with marvelous views on our way to lunch at the Tulleries gardens. Sat outside and could see the Louvre, which contains a million paintings.

We saw several places that we hope to get back to and ones that are off the tourist radar. We met several very interesting people including a couple from Minnesota and a young man studying to be a doctor from Austria. Lively conversation at lunch.

The bike group is very organized and you always feel safe. They have the routes well laid out and zip us in and out of lunch with no time wasted. Waiters, in fact, are waiting for us. I don't think I'd be comfortable trying to to get across streets and navigating round a bouts without a leader, plus the getting lost factor ! We do all stick close together and practice a mantra -" palm with politeness"for stopping cars and "dominate" to assure we are able to always be a group. You bond quickly !

The subway system is really great in Paris and we are doing fine figuring the stops out. Also have ridden some buses.

Took a long bus ride to Sacre Coeur and the great view of the city. The church looked different to me, but still an amazing structure. Did a little walking tour of that area, Monmartre.

Well persistence pays off and we had dinner at Chez Denis and just like the locals we arrived at 10pm. I did have a wonderful lamb stew with white beans - huge portion, but no cassolet on the menu so Matt will have to keep up that tradition.
Dick had haddock and really enjoyed it. We had a nice conversation with a German couple sitting next to us.(in English )

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