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.  .  .


  1. You look très chic! On our visit to Jardins de Luxembourg early on a Sunday morning in October, we saw plenty of runners in head-to-toe spandex type running clothes. They were French (as evidenced by overheard snippets of conversation) and were getting a few sideways glances from the people strolling in street clothes. I guess running is still more of an oddity there, but so glad you've been able to work in one of your favorite pastimes!

  2. Good for you for maintaining your capacity! You look relaxed and happy against the forsythia- and seems like you are having consistently beautiful weather for your touring.

  3. how fun to run in Paris! love that way of sightseeing. very impressed with the one suitcase wardrobe. love ya hil

  4. It sounds like fun running in Paris and you look very lovely and happy in the photos.

    I love Bordeaux and can't wait to see photos.

  5. Running in Paris - and let us not forget you are in your 50s. This is all pretty extraordinary. I think the first level of experiencing a city is learning to fit in, which in Paris of course means dressing the part. But the next level is learning what level of not matching one can tolerate. You run, and dress in lycra, not because you are a tourist but because you are who you are and are staying a long time. So you brought what matters to you, to Paris.

  6. Love the dress! What a great wardrobe you've fixed for travelling and looking chic a meme temps!

  7. Dear Mater, I'm so enjoying your trip log and pictures. Your story of running in the Lux Park was so fun I read it to my DH! It appears your wardrobe choices are working just fine. Being able to do a bit of laundry in house is so wonderful. I'm so leery of hotel laundries so usually resort to the basin in the bathroom for fine washables. Wishing you and Pater more beautiful days! 27 days and counting till we are there.

  8. Megan: You know what I mean, right?!
    Pseu: I suspect as well that the crowd changes depending on time of day -- what we remember from other years is that the lunchtime runners include many who are more serious. And we see quite a few running through the streets fairly late into the evening, also obviously serious runners. But there are many who aspire only to be well-dressed joggers!
    Duchesse: the weather has been stunning -- every cliche about springtime in Paris, with all the warmth of May.
    Hilary: One of these years -- bring your gear, we'll run the city together!
    Susan: I've gone a bit crazy with photos here in Bordeaux -- we'll have to see which I manage to choose from the hundreds . . .
    LPC: You are so good at getting to the heart of an experience! I've been thinking about precisely this tension -- between wanting to fit into a new city and then learning how to maintain sense of self in it. I'm planning to post on the phenomenon eventually, probably once I'm back home.
    l'Age: The wardrobe has worked surprisingly well so far, although the last few days in the low 20s and full-on sunshine have made the black tights a bit heavy. . .
    Marguerite: Laundering on our own has made life much easier -- the French machines take so much longer, so we wait 'til we have an evening in, but that's a nice domestic break, after all.
    You must be getting quite excited about your own plans now -- anticipation is always such a big part of the travel fun.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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