I was gone all last week. To celebrate one of my wife’s milestone birthdays I gave her the gift of a trip to Paris. Her birthday was in August. As she’d recently started new employment, we delayed leaving until she had some time at the job accumulated.
We flew into London, then took the high speed rail Eurostar train beneath the English channel crossing the rolling farmlands of France into the heart of the city of lights.
* This blog is supposed to have at least some relationship to motorcycling, – don’t worry I’m getting there.
We spent 3 days in the heart of the city. We had no set plan or itinerary. Each day we woke up, enjoyed a wonderful european breakfast spread, and walked out the door of our hotel. Afterwards the day just happened.
So what has Paris got to do with motorcycling? Apparently a lot! The city is awash in all sorts of 2 wheeled travel.
When you ride a motorcycle, you’re more aware of them. You have a deeper appreciation and your eye is drawn to anything with two wheels. Walking the streets of Paris you can’t help but be impressed with how many motorcycles tangle with the chaotic flow of city traffic.
At first take it appears the vulnerability of being on a motorcycle would make riding in this turmoil more risk than it’s worth. Streets are narrow, lined with cars, I don’t think they even bother with posting speed limit signs – it would be futile in any case.
The more I watched, the more I became convinced a motorcycle was the ideal means to take advantage of the opportunities the traffic held. Rapid acceleration, quick handling, and the capability to squeeze through most any gap make tackling the Paris traffic on a motorcycle look like a video game. It think it might be fun in some strange way.
Mopeds, Vespas, and scooters, you might expect. They do make up a decent fraction of the two-wheeled traffic, but are not the bulk of it. There are bikes of all makes and sizes. I was surprised so many dual-sport bikes were present. A good number of big bikes, particularly BMWs, were fairly common. Most of the sport bikes I saw were moving. I even saw several Harley-Davidsons.
What a contrast to what I’m familiar with. It’s a whole different environment. Urban vs. rural. It’s almost a combat environment when it comes to driving. Still, it wasn’t long before I was wishing I had access to a bike. Heck, I’ll give it a try. I’m confident I’ll survive.
It turns out Paris is a pretty easy place to be when you’re off the motorcycle. We walked a lot. We also took the Metro. We managed to do the whirlwind tour hitting many of the tourist spots without even trying. As expected, you can get by without knowing much french. Another day to explore more would have been nice. I think saying that is a sign of a successful vacation.
One day I’m going to make that motorcycle trip across Europe searching for the best rides. I’m convinced the Appalachian Mountains of the US have more to offer the motorcycle adventure tourer than all the Alps of Europe. This trip gives me more confidence about passing through the city of Paris on that future journey, though I’m not sure it will be needed. I may stay further south. It’s good to know I will enjoy revisiting Paris if needed. I may just make a detour.
The short vacation was a nice break from America Rides Maps. With Christmas coming orders pick up, then really start to grow once the new year comes. I’m playing the weather day by day, choosing the best days to get out. I need three good days out on the road to finish up the Hot Springs map revision. With luck, I’ll have the companion map done by the start of the new year.
The break did us both good. Now it’s back to work.