04 May 2014 Life

A Paris cycling adventure

Place de la Concorde

You’ve been riding for so long that the rumbling of your bike frame on the cobblestones has faded into the periphery of your consciousness. You feel like you’re swimming through a current. Sometimes you swim upstream, sometimes you ride in solidarity with a school of fellow cyclists, and sometimes you feel like you’re getting dragged along by the undertow. That’s the nature of cycling in Paris.

You’ve arrived at Place de la Concorde. The gleaming pyramidal point of the Luxor Obelisk greets you, and you make up your mind to go check it out.

The centre of Place de la Concorde is a vast concrete slab. It’s surrounded by five or six lanes of traffic, all entering and exiting from different angles. You’re not even quite sure how you manage it, but there’s a sort of gut instinct that pulls you along, orbiting the Obelisk. You’ve reached the inner lane and hop up the curb.

Placing your bike up on its kickstand, you notice that you’re in the middle of two beautiful vistas. Up ahead, you can see through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

Behind you is the much larger Arc de Triomphe at the Place Charles de Gaulle, where today’s adventure started. You can see even beyond that to the Grande Arche de la Défense, a modernist aberration on Paris’ architectural landscape. They’re all aligned perfectly.

The second vista is to your left and right — the Église de la Madeleine and the Assemblée Nationale are also aligned perfectly to the spot where you’re standing.

The sun is setting over the Eiffel Tower, the smell of crepes is in the air, and you decide to continue your Parisian adventure on foot for tonight. There’s so much to explore.


Start again?

Sam Nabi

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