Rollerski Paris

14 Jul

Spent last weekend in Paris. Stayed in the Port d’Orléans neighborhood, near my old office. I used to take the train in from Nantes in the Western part of the country and stay two nights each week in a hotel. For nostalgia’s sake I stayed in the same place, Hotel Terminus Orléans. It’s a typical older Parisian hotel with creaky stairs and plenty of character, but it really is nice to go where everyone knows your name. The staff, who were always kind to me, haven’t changed much. I also saw a lot of familiar faces at the nearby Paris-Orléans café where I often ate dinner. I must have had an inkling where life would eventually lead me because I frequently ordered their ‘Salade norvégien’. Had that again, with a couple of glasses of Muscadet to bring me back to Nantes.
Once adequately nourished by French standards I struck out for the forest park, the ‘Bois de Boulogne’, on the Western edge of the city. I had heard that the roads within the park were closed to traffic on weekends and that rollerbladers use the place a lot. Sounded like a good pick for rollerskiing.
The ‘Bois de Boulogne’ lived up to its promise. I found a big network of car free roads and bike paths criss-crossing the park’s wooded, slightly hilly terrain.
I’m always interested in peoples’ reactions to rollerskiing in the different places I visit. The Parisians were disappointingly blasé. Nobody batted an eye. Since different exercise fads frequently traverse the Parisian landscape, I’d still like to imagine residents making a resigned mental note about having to go out and buy some poles after seeing me.
The pavement on some of the roads was a little rough, but happily I found some gloriously smooth bike paths heading over the forest hills and dales. Though France abounds with dogs, the many I passed were just as indifferent about me as their owners were. There’s something to be said for the cosmopolitan effect on both man and beast of living in a ten million soul megapolis. I wish the Norwegian and Spanish canine kind could get some of that. One Spanish dog, Rex, threw himself headlong into the chaos of a Southern Spain roundabout upon seeing me rollerskiing. It was an obvious, spontaneous suicide attempt, spurred by the complete loss of the will to live in a world where humans do such terrible things.
The only downside was the weather that hung around 32C with high humidity. But toward the end of my ski tour that turned into a welcome, cooling rain.
I wandered the park for a good three hours. Though I occasionally burped up a bit of Muscadet taste, reminding me that drinking and rollerskiing probably wasn’t the wisest choice, no catastrophe ensued. Skin and carbon poles remained fully intact when I finally took the tram back to the hotel.
Finished the evening with a meal of baked sea bass, and slept well in spite of the heat.

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