One of my bucket list items has been to spend enough time in Paris that I can go and not have to rush to see anything. I don’t have to look at a guidebook, I don’t have to hurry to catch a museum before closing.
Well, I have arrived. Last Sunday in Paris, one week after the November 13 terror attacks, I rented one of those clunky city bikes and just rode. I know the layout of the city well enough and the major streets that I really didn’t have a destination in mind. It was a beautiful day with the temperature near 40 degrees Farenheit.
I started at the bikeshare (velib) station next to my hotel. It was across the street from the Comptoir Voltaire where a terrorist blew himself up injuring sixteen people. Most of us in the states had not heard of the Comptoir Voltaire, it was just one of many sites attacked on that fateful day and fortunately one in which only the terrorist was killed.
Next I rode down the busy Boulevard Voltaire an saw a huge gathering and memorial. I had happened upon the now infamous Bataclan Theater. I had meant to ride a bit along the Canal St Martin and the Bataclan is located where the canal takes a turn underground. I stopped and spent time reading the makeshift memorials, it reminded me of the fence at Trinity Chapel across from the World Trade Centers after 9/11.
Finally, I needed something to drink since I had been riding a bit so I rode up the Canal St Martin to where it emerges from underground and there are a series of locks and gracefully arched metal footbridges. I saw a small grocery store and went in to buy an Orangina. When I came out I saw a crowd was gathered on the other side of the store. I walked over and discovered that I had happened upon yet another terrorist attack site. This was another site that I had not heard of, the Café Bonne Bière where five people were killed and another nine injured in a terrorist shooting.
I am a francophile, I love Paris, and afterwards I realized that I had just taken the ‘Saddest (Bike) Tour of Paris’