It’s when you come to cities like Paris that you realise how scrubbed clean Sydney really is. Paris has a certain scruffiness that you see everywhere. It’s not that there’s rubbish everywhere (there isn’t), it’s just that all those new paving stones and light posts all over Sydney contrast with Paris slightly battered and worn ambience. It’s rare to see an old car here (ie not straight out of the showroom) that doesn’t have a few battle scars. Indeed the police station near my hotel that is responsible for all the sirens that I hear all day has a gaggle of beaten up and scarred police cars parked out the front. But the gendarmes standing outside smoking are of course immaculately attired.
I had decided not to make any firm plans for my arrival and it was probably a good thing as I got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle after a day in the air to a grey sky pouring water on the runway. And when my bike box finally turned up at the luggage collection it was completely soaked to the point of collapse. Now there’s one damage vector I hadn’t planned for when packing the bike.
So in my jet lagged daze I decided that getting on my bike and riding off into the rain was probably not going to be particularly enjoyable at 7am on a Monday morning after no sleep, so I booked an overpriced hotel at the tourist information desk. David was quite helpful and rang the hotel to make sure that they had room to store my bike, but he was most insistent that I wouldn’t be able to get my bike onto the automated airport shuttle train that moves between terminals. I was pleased to prove him wrong after assembling the bike in a quite corner of the airport. Everything is so difficult when you’re sleep deprived. Even simple operations like screwing on the pedals become unreasonably difficult.
A day and many coffees later I’m feeling almost human again. I have booked a tgv ticket to Nancy tomorrow morning to meet up with George as he examines the tdf starting towns.
If only I had brought some decent clothes I would be able to visit a nice restaurant.