Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tomorrow is a New Day

We set off from Beauvoir in good humour, having just been jump started by our new friends and on our way to the city dreams are made of – Paris. The 3.5 hour ride meant out 10.30am start was reasonable. Even with stops we expected to arrive around 4pm, however the travel gods had other plans for us.

I’m fairly certain we took a wrong turn very early on, and that we took the longest possible route to Paris. For the bulk of it, we didn’t really care. The countryside in France is incredible, the roads empty, the expanses grand, and the castles and cathedrals frequent.

We had pizza, spaghetti bolognaise and chocolate mousse (the only names we recognized) for lunch and a restaurant in a small town we will probably never know the name of. We played with their Labrador puppy and another dog that looked like a grizzly bear that had been shrunk down. We cooled down and drank copious amounts of icy water, keeping a close eye on the bike outside in the 35-40 Degree Celsius heat.

We rode on and made a few other stops to get drinks, petrol and directions. The Navman (well, my phone with maps installed) was low on battery and we wanted to save it for when we got closer to Paris. Seeing the first sign for Paris was exhilarating and as we got closer and started seeing signs for Versaille as well we were more and more excited.

Then we got lost. Which, as I’ve now found, is extremely easy to do in this city, even on the outskirts. We knew the campsite was halfway between Versaille and Paris, which itself is a 30 minute ride, so we decided to get off the motorway at the first sign for Versaille and check directions. Since Versaille was the closer of the two destinations we should be able to navigate 15 minutes past it quite easily.

By this time the phone was flat. My own fault because I had packed the charger somewhere in the panniers and we couldn’t get it out to recharge the phone over lunch. We were in the middle of Versaille, in 40 degree heat, with a couple of forget-to-look-left-instead-of-right moments behind us earlier in the day and suddenly surrounded by roundabouts, one way streets and thousands of insane drivers undecided on which lane they wanted to be on. Stress much?

I was freaking out at the other drivers, Courts was freaking out at the heat (it’s not so bad when you’re moving, but stopped at traffic light after traffic light it’s pretty intense) and we were both freaking out at each other. A restaurant kindly let us use their wifi with our laptop to copy down directions. They went really well until we got off the motorway and were faced with busy Parisian roads again. We ended up in a nasty looking part of town, turned back the way we came and luckily almost fell on Maisons-Lafitte, our destination. It was 8pm, we were hot, tired and grumpy, and we didn’t love Paris so far.

Thanks to a very friendly campsite-shop assistant and the beer he sold us, everything evened out. We had grapes for dinner with no other option and settled in early. It’s days like this you take comfort in knowing the sun will go down and tomorrow it will come up again afresh.

Penelope_nz's Paris, France photoset Penelope_nz's Paris, France photoset