Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Biking Bliss in the Fôret de Sevran

I have been an active biker for over a year.

By "active," I of course mean occassional, and only in near-perfect sunny conditions.

Such biking activity has rarely, however, extended outside of the city. Only once last year did I bike out of bounds, on a lovely trip near the Royaumont Abbey. Last Sunday I tried again - a rematch country ride to the Fôret de Sevran.
The morning started with a trip to the market. A loaf of bread, fixings for a green bean salad, some drippy Reine Claudes and a nice Brie de Meaux - we bought everything we needed for a little country picnic.
Setting out from the Parc de la Villette, we followed the Canal de l'Ourcq (the northern extension of the Canal Saint-Martin) in the direction of Meaux.
For the first five minutes, the view was post-industrial. The falling-down Grands Moulins de Pantin towered before us and we breezed past buildings with broken windows and graffiti.

Emerging from a massive SNCF repair complex, we found ourselves in the middle of a Bobigny block-party. Balloons, each one with a message attached, filled the air above our heads. I smiled at them memory of doing the same twenty years ago in Kansas.

Next up along our route we spied some rough necks letting off jet ski steam. All bike traffic stopped to watch them as they skidded across the stank and murky waters.

Thirty minutes into the ride, the view became more picturesque. Wooden fences replaced grafitti-covered walls and flowers bloomed from suburban patios.
Time flew and soon enough the view had become fully forested. The heat of the day was held at bay by the canopy of trees. Light filtered between the branches to cast a serene glow on all who were picnicking (or reading, sleeping, drinking, entangling in various states of undress...).
We found a shaded spot within the Fôret de Sevran. We dropped like sacks after the sixty-minute ride and spread ourselves out for a sigh. A nap in the grass followed a leisurely lunch and then we found the buvette and a revitalizing beer.

Our party turned back around 4pm to attend to some pétanque around the Bassin de la Villette. The return trip took just over an hour, with some delay from weary legs and the of number joyriding Vélib'ers.

This trip was part of my training for an upcoming cycling holiday. I have been persuaded to pedal through the countryside between the châteaux de la Loire. Considering the number of very good vineyards along the way, it is certain to be a fiasco.


The Late Bloomer said...

Ah, I think I followed this same bike path a couple years ago... But since then I haven't done much bicycling myself, alas. I kind of miss it, actually, but since I moved out to the 'burbs, I haven't been able to find anyone to cycle with! (Although I occasionally cycle out to Maisons Laffitte or beyond to St. Germain-en-Laye.) I've got to get back into the city one of these days...

The cycling through the Loire Valley sounds like a fab idea. But I agree that the wine -- especially the Vouvray -- will be dangerously tempting!

Dean said...

We spent a day on bikes around Beaune during a backpacking trip in 2005.

It was a glorious day in early October... perhaps the best part of it was the smell of the leftover grape pulp/skins from the wine making that were dumped in the fields for fertilizer; the whole valley smelled like red wine.

I am looking forward to your report on the Loire Valley.

Garrincha said...

Drunk biking. Good idea. Will do. Oh wait : already did.

anna said...

sounds like fun. can i come next time?

La Page Française said...

This just looks like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Bike ride + picnic = two of my favorite things. I've always wanted to do that ride past the parc de la villette up towards Meaux. Maybe I will get around to doing it this fall