To Versailles!

Through the Bois de Bolougne

I've been in France for the last week and had a few days in Paris so I thought I'd ride to Versailles from Bois de Boulogne, which is this massive park in the 16th arrondissement.  I did a fair bit of googling but couldn't really find that much definitive info on where to hire, so I just went to the Bois de Bolougne and went from there.  There was one small stand which had bikes for hire, quite cheap only 12€ for the whole day.  The bikes themselves were really simple city bike style bikes, 3 speed shimano hub, mudguards and rack.   The Bois de Boulogne is massive, there are many bike paths both paved and hardpacked dirt.  I'd like to come back just to cycle the park, there is also a roadie cycle loop around the hippodrome at the south west corner of the park where I saw quite a lot of club riders training.

St Cloud Park
After riding the bike for about a minute, it felt like the front tyre was flat.  I noticed quickly that there was no valve and that the tyres were solid rubber!  I had read a lot about them before and have been pretty skeptical because nothing has been able to successfully better the pneumatic tyres; they are used on aircraft where a blowout would be much much more dangerous all the way to wheelbarrows.  In a nutshell they ride like shit, have bugger all grip and weigh a tonne.  Also we discovered that one bike was stuck in top gear (which I got stuck with grinding up a hill) and another slipped gears.

After exiting the Bois de Boulogne there was some steep hills after crossing the Seine, through some backstreets and down to St Cloud Park.  At the end of this was this tiny little town Marnes-la-Coquette.  We passed through this we ended up at the Forest Fausses Reposes which is a large woodland on the edge of Paris on the way to Versailles.  It's a large forest with lots of walking tracks and a nice smooth road going through it.

 After the forest we went through to the commune of Versailles, after some back streets we finally reached the Chateau itself and its gardens.  The view from the Palace towards the garden seemed surreal, particuarly as there was some kind of bonfire nearby which created a fog over the garden.  The queue to get into the palace itself was enormous, probably about 300m long or so.  Maybe next time...

It started raining a bit which made for some of the cobbled roads around Versailles a bit hairy, particularly with the solid tyres which bounced the bike around like worn out washing machine.  We ended up catching the train back to Paris and finished the trip with a long version of a macaroon.  The ride was more difficult than I thought, I had this idea that it'd be a ride that would be completely flat and all on off-road bike path.  No such luck.  Still I'd recommend it but probably on a road or touring bike, preferably with decently wide tyres for the cobbles :)  I'll probably take Mr Ramen next time.


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