Saturday, March 26, 2011

Running in Paris (and some What I Wore, NOT for running!)

We're heading off to Bordeaux this (Friday)morning, where we will be meeting Lesley from the charming, lively, thoughtful (if sporadic) Peregrinations (the title and subtitle alone indicate the quality of word-smithing that goes on here). Meanwhile, I'll schedule this post for Saturday morning-ish, depending where you live. I'm working on my next post already --- more stealth photos and a surprise sighting for you to guess at.

While I'm in Bordeaux, then, I'll leave you with Paris . . . run its streets with me in spirit if you'd like!

 I'm offering these What I Wore photos of Wednesday and Thursday in Paris as evidence (I hope) that I can fit reasonably well into the Parisian scene. This is against the counter-evidence (of which, luckily, none is photographic) that I have run through the streets of Paris with my hair under a running cap, black running tights and my turqouise top with my Nike runners, sweating rather undaintily as we work our way through the more leisurely pedestrians.
 The uppermost photo was taken on rue de Grenelle while the one just above was taken in this delightful park we have newly discovered (this is our 9th time in Paris, our first time in this park -- the city constantly surprises).
 More photos of the park later, perhaps, but for now I'll tell you more about running in Paris. We've never tried this on previous trips, knowing we get plenty of exercise with our daily walking. But running isn't just about exercise, and six weeks is longer than we were willing to go without it.  I had some doubts as we headed up Boulevard Raspail to the Luxembourg Gardens Tuesday morning, especially since Paul wanted to walk most of the way as a warm-up. He doesn't usually bother with this, and while I like a five-minute walking warm-up, I realized that he was prolonging the walking pace because he felt conspicuous running, and preferred to wait 'til we got to the park. I, on the other hand, couldn't possibly feel anymore conspicuous, dressed as I was in running gear NOT of the designer variety.  At least if we were running, I explained, I felt justified in my athletic gear.

It's hard to establish a decent pace while stopping for lights, dodging pedestrians, and trying to avoid the crottins de chien, but nevertheless it felt very cool to be running through the Paris crowds, spotting beloved landmarks along the way. Even better when we got to Jardins de Luxembourg and could stretch out a bit.  Not having run for over a week, I had oodles of reserve power and felt exhilirated -- had to restrain myself from shouting out an adrenaline-driven Woot-woot! It only takes about ten minutes to run the perimeter of the park, so we had to loop three times, but the crowd-watching is unparalleled and we were never bored. Most fascinating is the range of runners -- we were faster than 70-80% of those out on Tuesday, although there were several serious runners training, notably a young woman whose t-shirt indicated she runs for her American university team. The variety of running gear is astonishing, particularly the runners who draped scarves decoratively around their necks!

We enjoyed Tuesday's run so much that we decided to try a longer one on Thursday, and we were at the Seine before 9, running its cobbled banks. In fact, the cobblestones are quite large, often with sizeable gaps between, and sometimes with tree roots erupting through them -- this makes running more challenging, of course, but it wasn't boring. We pass the Louvre across the Seine, then Notre Dame, exchanging the occasional bonjour with workers out cleaning the paths or Parisians walking their dogs. Because I got fixated on reaching my favourite bridge, the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, we ran a bit further than we intended. We crossed this beautifully undulating pedestrian bridge to the Right Bank, but running back from Quai Bercy we got shunted off our intended route and found ourselves all the way up at Bastille! Luckily, there was a clean and free toilet for me to use, and not too much later we came across a water fountain, so my crankiness passed, and we got back to enjoying this energetic method of sightseeing. Just past the Louvre, we crossed back over to the Left Bank and wandered back up Rue du Bac, happy and sweaty (to the bemusement or dismay of the rather bourgeois St. Germain crowd). Altogether a very positive experience, and one I hope we'll repeat.

Breakfast in the apartment -- a simple joy with baguette, jam, and tea -- before heading out to the luscious Bompard store (more on that later), pausing along the way in front of Serge Gainsbourg's graffiti-covered house. You probably can't see in this picture, but the fabric in my Catherine Malandrino dress is rather reminiscent of graffiti, so the pose seemed a good fit.
Now to the TGV and Bordeaux.  .  .