Le Grand Tour: Day 11 – Paris To Chartres

CURRENT LOCATION: Train to Chartres / Camping de Chartres

Back to the writing. I’m currently on a busy train that’s about to set off for Le Mans. I’ll be getting off at Chartres, one step along the Veloscenie cycle route from Paris. Busy in terms of people, busy in terms of bicycles; the current count is six of which three are laden touring bikes. It’s a sight that would leave your average Trans Pennine Express train guard seeking counselling. There are people clambering over the bikes as they make their way down the carriages to find their seat. Now far be for me to say but if people actually worked out which carriage to get on when they are on the platform, like would be somewhat easier. Anyway, I digress… and we are off. Six bicycles it is.

It’s been a flying visit to the French capital. It was always planned that way. I stayed with a very nice chap called Mizu. He has only recently joined WarmShowers but such is the location of his small flat that he is already being sent numerous accommodation requests. I’m the third person on a couple of weeks and he has soneone lined up for the coming weekend. I wandered around the Marais district with Mizu yesterday evening and he was a good local guide pointing out the nooks and crannies that few visitors would ever notice; the remnants of the old walls, the distinctive Jewish synagogue, the foundry chimney that still stands as a feature at the rear of an upmarket Japanese clothes store. All this was interspersed with comments – often tinged with sadness – about how the area has changed in the 30 years he has lived there. 

We went our separate ways after his tour but when I returned to the plan we got out the maps and hatched a plan. Basically it went like this:

  • spend the morning in Paris doing a bit of essential shopping (replacement GoPro battery, hat, map of the Veloscenie)
  • Catch the train from Montparnasse to Chartres (the second sub-100km train journey – 8 remain…)
  • Camp at Camping de Chartres in, err… Chartres. 
  • Set off along the Veloscenie on the 14th, Bastille Day.

Now Mizu did make the comment later this morning when I returned to his flat to pick up my bike that he thinks Paris is waking up later and later. I agree. The FNAC (battery) didn’t open until 10am so at around 9.30am I was heading off down to a collection of stores branded ‘Au Vieux Campeur’ that Mizu had recommended. I think they may all be independent shops but they are gathered together in one place. But they didn’t open until 11am… Trudge back to the FNAC – no battery – where I was directed to a couple of shops near Bastille. No luck there either. No hat after a wander around one of the department store of the rue de Rivoli. I abandoned the idea of going back to Au Vieux Campeur, returned to Mizu’s flat, picked up the bike and set off to Montparnasse station. 

Something in me wanted to give it one last shot at Au Vieux Campeur… and this time success; battery and hat purchased. The battery saga, however, may not have a positive outcome. 

UPDATE: Its now 6.30pm. I’ve set up camp in Chartres and been food shopping. Once showered it’s time to get the latest episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast published…


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