Wednesday 20 December 2017

Another year, another trip to Paris! - Part 3: Chantilly

After a well-earned sleep I was ready to do the final part of my Paris ride.

After a hearty breakfast I started my ride from Beauvais. Firstly, I did a mini circuit of the town. It wasn´t anything to write home about as I had seen the best parts the previous day. What I saw today was the part that I had seen on the last time I was in Beauvais, just over a year ago. I had been on a mad dash to get a train to Paris on a Saturday evening after a tedious day on the road. I recognised the road around the train station and the industrial area that I had taken, though at the time I was so focused on trying to catch the train that I didn´t notice the delights of the various factories and DIY stores. Today I had the chance to appreciate the water treatment works, the Nestlé factory, and even Carrefour in their full splendour!

After a tour of the grey side of Beavais I was into the green and pleasant roads that would take me to the Pays de L`Oise, and Chantilly. Rather than ride along the main road with traffic I was able to ride along a traffic-free cycle path that started from Therdonne, just outside Beauvais, and went parallel to the D12, going to Hermes, and towards Bury. I kept thinking that these towns might be in the first instance quite chic, like an expensive handbag or perfume, and then in the second instance, a bit industrial like an industrial city. But no, they were neither - just quaint non-descript villages in Normandy.

Quiet lanes through the woods in Normandy
The nicest town in the area though, was Saint-Leu-Esserent, which was quite old, with a gothic church and a bridge. Soon I was into practically deserted roads that just had woodland to guide me along the way. It was all very nice, though I was looking foward to getting to Chantilly.

And once I got there it didn´t fail to disappoint. I have always known Chantilly was famous for its race course, having seen the Prix de L´Arc de Triomphe on Channel 4 racing a few times. I didn´t know just quite how chic it was. Chantilly being twinned with Epsom, home of the Derby should have given me a clue. On entering the town, a signboard describes it as the "capital of the horse". It made me wonder if that also meant you could get decent horsemeat from their local butchers!

Though I think really, Chantilly is still more upmarket than the London suburb in Surrey - not that I want to cause offence to the people of Epsom!

Chantilly - the horse capital
The high street definitely reeks of wealth, with it´s designer shops, and expensive cafes. It is also heaving with pollution, as the roads were just choc-a-block with audis, mercedes, BMWs and the odd Bentley. On this day there were loads of cyclists too, as a triathlon was taking place at the Château and many athletes cycled back from the castle to their lodgings. If only I had known this was on, I would definitely have entered.

It was an extremely hot day, and the open water swim in the lake around the Château would have been lovely - maybe not the run though! In any case this race, part of the Castle Series is definitely one to note for next year.

Nice setting for a triathlon
Talking to the security guard in the grounds of Chantilly castle he talked about all the events that people could look forward to, including the Prix de L´Elégance, which was due to take place in a couple of weeks time. That sounded about right for this place, which is the epitome of style. It made me laugh that he was telling me about an event all about style, as I stood there all bedraggled and sweaty in the 30+degrees heat!

I then sat in the park and ate my packed lunch before pushing on - a lot later than planned. By this time it was going to 4pm, and as I breezed past the lovely gated mansions along the tree-lined avenues I comforted myself with the fact that I was in the department of Ile de France, which for me, means the Parisian region.

Chantilly wins the prix de l'élégance!
So I would be at my lodgings in the 11th arrondissement within an hour or two. Er, not so! I was 30 miles away, so yes getting there in aound 2 hours was about right. However, I had not factored in stopping to go shopping, taking photos or even getting lost in the suburbs - which was bound to happen as I was no longer following the Avenue Verte route.

The other important point for me, was that I was not taking the direct route. I had wanted to take in a little bit more forest, so ended up on a convoluted route that took me through Gouvieux, Royaumont Abbey, Forests at Carnelle, L´Isle Adam, and Montmorency, before entering Paris via Argenteuil, and Asnières sur Seine, and then onto Arc de Triomphe via Boulevard Malsherbes and Avenue Wagram.

By this time it was around 8pm! Whoops! But hey, I had seen a real specturm of places en route - industrial parts of Normandy, historic bits, the upmarket suburbs of Paris, as well as some dodgy looking areas of the northern "banlieues" of Paris.

Pont d'Iéna - tense, terse, tourists
In another variation, my ride through Paris did not involve Champs Elysées, for once! This time I opted for leaving the Arc de Triomphe roundabout via Avenue Iéna, which took me straight to the bottom of Trocadero and right into Champ de Mars, where the Eiffel Tower is. It was also more difficult to get a stranger to take a photo of me down here than when I was at the Arc de Triomphe. It was like they had become mistrusting of everyone - which I guess is not surprising, given recent events. Having said that, it didn't stop people from photobombing my pics with silly faces and waves. The tourists at the Eiffel Tower definitely seemed a different breed from the polite folks up at Charles de Gaulle Etoile!

After a spin through the streets of the Left Bank, and down Boulevard St Germain, I crossed Henri IV Bridge to reach Bastille, my favourite area.
Finally, I arrived at my lodgings, another Ibis Hotel off rue de la Roquette, near Père Lachaise, and was ready to celebrate my arrival with a moules frites and a good wine at the nearby Cafe L´Artiste.

My route into Paris on Strava

Related posts
Another year, another trip to Paris! Part 1 - Avenue Verte

Another year, another trip to Paris! Part 2 - Beauvais

Paris en velo! Arrivee fictive

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