To drink hot spiced red wine in the Tuileries with my lunch of a cheese crepe before hopping back on a bicycle — this is what going to Paris is about.
Tracy wanted to visit Versailles one day during our week in Paris. I’d seen it with Brian a few years ago so decided to do my own thing that day. I woke late in the morning, drank my lovely strong coffee and flipped through some guidebooks. A bicycle tour caught my eye. “Hit the road with a younger crowd for frolicking four-hour guided rides in English through Paris,” the Fat Tire listing read. “Meet at the south pillar of the Eiffel Tower.” At 11:00. It was now 10:15.
I bolted off the couch, yelled to Tracy in the bathroom that I had to go, I’d see her in time for dinner, stuffed my bag with the day’s necessities and boarded the teeny elevator. 45 minutes and three metro connections later I called Fat Tire to tell them I’d be a little late. “Come on to the office to get your bike and meet the group here,” a friendly girl said.
I emailed home quickly from their internet station once there. I didn’t get my mother’s response until I was back home. Here’s how the conversation went.
I am getting ready to go on a bike tour of Paris. I’ll be careful. The sun is shining FINALLY. See you soon! Je tádore!
I’ll be careful…..That wasn’t very reassuring to read first thing in the morning when you are a million miles away.
Always THE MOM
Though I didn’t see her reply, I could picture the reaction from her and my husband if I managed to break my skull in Paris so I donned a helmet (the only biker over the age of ten who did so), grabbed my bike (a kid’s bike, as I’m too short for an adult bike) and started pedaling for the first time since Bruges in 2003.
It was fantastic! No matter the cold weather and the runny-nose-inducing wind, bicycling through Paris, seeing the panorama of sites unfold like a highlights reel was magical. We pedaled madly through the Place de la Concorde, Carly the guide’s bell ring-a-linging, all of us grinning ear to ear as we rocketed through the traffic.
We lunched outdoors in the Tuileries, the splendid gardens I have somehow missed in my previous visits, where I fortified myself against the cold by clutching and sometimes sipping my spiced wine. We made it back to the Fat Tire office just ahead of the looming rain clouds, and I wandered the Rue Cler area the rest of the afternoon, drinking coffee, window shopping at the frommagerie and shopping for chocolates and candles until I realized it was time to hop on the metro to go get ready for dinner.
Despite the rather awkward places I was sore in, this day was just the kind of day I dream about when I dream of Paris.