- Total 57km
- Vancouver to Camping de Paris
- Part cloudy high 21c, evening showers
We left our truck at Kurt’s in Kerrisdale and rode our bikes the short and easy half-hour ride to YVR. Down hill most of the way, and on either cycle way or good bike lanes. Thanks Vancouver!
We’d allowed ourselves 3-1/2 hours to check in with the bikes, but it wasn’t quite enough. The agent was unable to sort out how to charge us for the bike boxes, and in the end, we just left our credit card for her to deal with it later. They gave us a fast track sticker for security, and we made it to the gate with 20 minutes to spare. All our bags were flagged in the x-ray. Chris’ because her pedals were in a bag, and mine for a whench, that they let me keep, and tent pegs that they didn’t.
Air France is a great way to fly. So French! Even on a plane, a meal is to be experienced, not just eaten. Champagne before dinner, a choice or red or white wine with. After dinner, we were offered coffee, which we declined, hoping to get some sleep, but cognac, oui. We were wheels down in Paris at 8:00 am Paris time, and then it got interesting.
Bicycle touring can be glorious. Days of bliss where your only concern is finding something to eat. This was not one of those days.
There were at least three international flights that landed close to the same time, so it took around an hour to clear customs. However, once it’s your turn, French customs police are fast and efficient. A scan of your passport and a quick stamp, and you’re done.
Our bikes arrived unscathed and were quickly put back in order, and we were off on a new adventure!
Standing outside the terminal, which way do we go? I had mapped our route to the campground in Komoot but had made the start point outside the airport, not knowing where we would come out of the terminal. Now how to get to it?
There are no bicycle routes out of Paris’ airport!
We spent the next 2 hours going from one dead end to another. Up and down elevators and through parking lots only to find ourselves at a road we were not comfortable riding on. Finally, we were told to take the tram to terminal 3, where we could gain access to the outside world. Finally, at the end of terminal 3, there was a path that seemed to go off in the direction that we wanted to go. By this time, it was 12:30, so we sat down with a baggett and contemplated our road to freedom.
The path went to a parking lot.
We had no choice but to ride on roads we would have preferred to have avoided. The thing about clover leafs… That’s the kind roads we were on. The thing about clover leafs is that they’re round, and they take you in circles. Circles that take you past familiar landmarks. Landmarks that are still inside the airport. With mounting frustration, we were still surrounded by runways and airplanes.
Finally, I realized that the road we neaded was an exit off the middle of a clover leaf, and we were on our way to the start of our route. This might not be quite as incompetent as it sounds. Getting to it meant that we had to ride fully loaded touring bikes across highway traffic, and the first time or two that we went past it, I was reluctant to do that. It was either learn to live in an airport or make a dash for it.
There are no bike routes for many kilometers outside of Paris’ airport.
It took a while to get to anywhere with bike ways and lanes, and the riding was still not pleasant. Fortunately, Fench drivers are considerate of cyclists, even lost ones, and we were never in any real danger.
As we got closer to the city center, it got busier. It was Saturday, and all of Paris was out walking and protesting. Drivers may be considerate of cyclists, but Paris pedestrians are not. Their behavior would be considered suicidal in North America, but they somehow survive here. Remember how your Momma told you to look both ways before crossing the street? Their Mommas did not. I lost count of the number of times people just turned and stepped out in front of me. They always had a look of shock on their face when they realized there’s a bike in the bike lane. Seriously?
Bike riders in Paris are a different breed. Their riding style is very creative. They weave in and out of traffic, and we were the only one to stop at red lights. This behavior appears to be acceptable.
Finally, after one quick stop for stove fuel and tent pegs, we arrived at our campsite, totally exhausted since I had not managed any sleep on the plane, and Chris only had a little. 13 hours of sleep has refreshed us, and we’re ready to take in the obligatory tourist things that need to be done when one is in Paris, but I’m looking forward to getting out into the country. The city is no place for a bicycle tourist.
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