Paris by bike and foot

I wouldn’t like to guess how many miles I travelled today. Actually, knowing would be useful regarding The Walk as I’m only tired from the neck up.

I tried to make as much noise as possible when I got up around 9-ish. Yeah, I’m petty but I don’t like being woken at silly o’clock unless it’s by someone demanding my body and that’s not happened in far longer than I’d care to calculate. Breakfast was OK but not as varied as I’d have liked. Still, it set me up well and at least I ate.

I gathered my daybag and set off for the La Motte-Piquet Grenelle station, and from there to the office of Fat Tire Bike Tours. For EURO 48 I signed up to both the day and night tours (4 hours apiece) and did q uick email check which cost over £1.20. Ouch. There are cybercafes in London for £1 an hour – this place was EURO 1 per ten minutes.

Just before 11:00 I arrived at the south pylon of the Blackpoo Eiffel Tower. Well, they both look the same. The guide there gave us some lovely trivia and then we walked back to the office to saddle up. I was lucky enough to be Austin’s “bum boy” or “ass man” or whatever. Basically, it was my job to make sure we didn’t leave anyone behind. How he knew that bribing an Englishman with beer would work is beyond me.

We hit many interesting places – l’Ecole Militaire, Place de Concorde (containing the oldest object in Paris, a 3300 year old obelisk stolen from Egypt), Les Invalides, the Grand and Petit Palais, the gold domed building housing Napoleon’s tomb… and some busy streets with psychotic French drivers on them who have no regard for road regulations or cyclists. We couldn’t go to the Arc de Triomphe as the roads around it ar ejust far too nuts to even contemplate as a cycling tour group.

We had a good group and conversation over lunch in the Jardin de Tuileries was fun. At 3pm, we returned to the office and scattered in our various directions. I decided to pretty much wander about randomly starting back at the Black Eiffel Tower. No way was I waiting 90 minutes in a queue to climb it, so I took some more photos then went walking down the side of the Seine to see the Statue of Liberty. No, I’m not mad. They have a fairly large replica of the original near the Radio France building. It was a gift to France from the US on the 100th anniversary of France’s gift of the original one. The one in New York is crafted around a framework designed by Gustav Eiffel, trivia fans.

Finally, I was peckish. Being ill plays havoc with my appetite. I decided to look for a KFC (of course). Around two hours later I found a McD’s on Rue de pennes. No KFC anywhere, and only glimpses of Pizza Hut. Trust me, these are some of the only ways to eat economically in Paris. I was bursting for the loo so I rushed in, headed to the downstairs toilet and was foiled by a combination lock! I had to buy dinner first so I could get a code for the loo. Unreal. Hopping from foot to foot while ordering a Big Mac Meal elicited no sympathy from the evil McServer and I bolted my food so that I could sprint to the loo… as someone walked out so I didn’t need the code.

Back at my table, I spotted someone on a laptop so I got out my PSP and had a tinker. It turns out that every McD’s in Paris has free wireless. So I have to pay money to go for a pee, but I can download gigs of music for free. Sensible. The sites I can view on the PSP are limited due to memory issues, but I could make a quick email check and look at the news before deciding that the weather still sucked (it had been raining for almost 4 hours by now), so I kept my night biking token and decided to chance it for tomorrow night instead.

I pulled out my map and plotted a route to the Moulin Rouge. Or more specifically the Musèe de l’èrotisme along the street. Well, I ddi one of these places in Barcelona and this one was bigger and cheaper with a coupon I’d got from the hostel.

The walk took me around ninety minutes and past some more wonder sights, the Opera Garnier probably being the grandest. I also discovered how stupidly expensive Paris can be by popping into a pharmacist’s for a regular packet of Halls cough sweets – EURO 2.90. That’s a shade under two quid. They’re a quarter of that in the real world.

The museum was pretty good and different from the Barcelona one with two art exhibitions on the upper floors as well as all the weird and amusing stuff elsewhere. One floor was predominantly dedicated tot he story of prostitution in France and the phases it had gone through. Interesting stuff. Back outside, I dodged the men (and women) trying to convince me to go into the variouis peep shows. I almost punched one guy who grabbed my arm, but settled for wriggling free and giving him a “try that again… go on” look. He didn’t.

I spotted another McD’s and was considering a McFlurry until I saw the prices – significantly more than the other branch I’d been in earlier. I guess dirty old men who frequent peep shows don’t mind paying a premium for their fake chicken burgers.

Instead, I caught the Metro “home” and settled for an enormous chicken sandwich, chips and a litre of mile from the local shops. Same price as McD’s but twice the sieze and somewhat more like real food.

Then to bed with two Paracetamol in my belly and a few drops of Eucalyptus oil on my pillow. I had an early start and 700 steps to climb tomorrow.

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