Oddly, we find that a week’s gone by by the time we think to head out and see some of this beautiful city we’re in — we’ve both got so much on, it can be hard to make time for the travel stuff, sometimes. Anyway, the time has come, and we decide to try riding our bikes in.
The ride looks quite good on the map, following the Marne river in for a lot of the way, and going by the Bois de Vincennes and the Parc Floral, which we remember fondly from the last time we were in Paris.
We set out and aren’t disappointed; the ride’s lovely, and follows some very nice little riverside streets with beautifully landscaped garden beds.
An hour or so’s ride finds us riding up to the entrance to the Parc Floral, a spectacular collection of artful flower gardens we discovered with delight last time. We’ve inadvertently turned up on one of the two days it costs money to get in, so we line up, but are rescued by a very kind woman who slips us her free entrance voucher on her way out.
We wander around the gardens, charmed by the use of colour and texture, and inspired from time to time for our own dream of a cottage garden. The day is sunny and warm, bumblebees amble amongst the flowers, as do we, enjoying thoughts of a future home alive with colourful flowers and tasty vegetables.
With bellies rumbling, we jump back on our bikes and ride through the woods and onwards alongside the park towards the city. I’m following a dotted line on the map that I take for a bike path, until the actual path vanishes — turns out, it’s an arrondissement boundary. I feel a bit silly. We end up taking a very roundabout route, through some rather gross industrial areas, but eventually arrive, exhausted, at the little cheese-oriented restaurant we’d been aiming for, and are presented with massive platters of various types of exciting-looking cheeses, sweet chutney, prosciutto, salami, salad, and wine, tailored to the types of cheese on our plates. Magnifique!
We clamber back onto our bikes an hour or so later, and pedal off back home, a long, weary 2 hours, during which I’m nearly wiped out by a guy who opens his car door right as I ride by! I tow Katherine by the hand the last kilometre or so, as she fights off sobs of exhaustion and the daylight fades, and we collapse gratefully onto the couch back home.
We both notice that when people speak to us without our being prepared in advance, it’s like our language centres just shut down, and we find ourselves staring blankly, paralysed, unable even to speak English! I need a good minute or two to assemble sentences in my head, and if I try to speak before then, it comes out garbled or stuttered, like streaming audio that hasn’t buffered properly. I think I need to carry around a little ‘loading’ pinwheel that I can spin at people while I’m conjugating and assembling…