Ahhh, Paris. My second favorite city in the world (close behind San Francisco of course). Due to my wife’s French heritage and my kids attending a French school, I get the pleasure of spending a lot of time in France, and we usually decompress for a week or so in the City by the Seine.
Nothing tightens up muscles like a trans-Atlantic red-eye, so I was eager to hit the streets this morning after I had spent one day readjusting. I’ve made the mistake before of running at the ungodly hour that I actually wake up the first few days, but unfortunately the city parks are closed until 7:00 AM or so, and running on Paris streets while the city awakens from the bottles of wine the night before is actually not entirely fun. I stretched out the morning cartoon festivities a bit today so that I could time my entry into the Jardin du Luxembourg properly.
I’ve actually never run in this park – or really that much in Paris – but have frequented Luxembourg as the site of the wonderful model sailboats that kids from all over the world propel across the large hexagonal boat basin beneath the summer sun. It turns out that at 7:30 AM le Jardin is much less crowded and much less hot. It also turns out that the only people there are runners. I hopped on the perimeter loop that seemed to circumnavigate the park and found the running quite flat and enjoyable. There were probably close to 100 runners jogging around the loop, most of them seemingly going counter-clockwise while I ran clockwise. I wasn’t clear on whether I was violating a local unspoken ordinance or just felt like I was running against traffic because I wasn’t seeing the folks running in the same direction as me. It turns out there’s a Strava segment for the loop (surprise!) so I’m somewhat tempted to head back and try to do a few efforts, just for fun. It’s less than a half mile from our flat, so it’s definitely going to get at least one return trip this week.
|Obligatory Stava screenshot|
The rest of the day we spent adventuring around La Villete, Paris’s largest parc in the Northeast corner of the city. I had an ulterior motive to head in that direction – while doing some research on cool graffiti locales I discovered the “Living Colors” wall in the that-could-never-be-a-word-in-English “Ourcq” district of Paris. The whole wall looked incredible, but I was stoked to try to find a tribute to the deceased and legendary “Five Foot Assassin”, AKA Phife Dawg, from A Tribe Called Quest.
|I get loose off of orange juice|
Thanks to Google Maps we found the wall easily, and it was worth the hunt. The Phife piece was there in all of its glory (credit goes to Alex et Brok), as well as many other interesting works of art, including a feline mural where the eyes were made of reflective paint (“Take picture with flash #ReflectiveEyes”), and a Planet of the Apes meets Mr T. meets Star Wars panel. I have always loved graffiti in Paris – partially for the skill and quality of the artists, but also for the obvious continuation of a tradition of visual storytelling that has gone on for thousands of years here. One can begin the morning looking at the infamous stained glass story panels at Sainte Chappelle or Notre Dame and then stroll through the alleys to see the modern story telling tools of spraypaint. It’s all here, it’s all in one place, and it’s just one of the many reasons why I am so in love with the City of Lights.
|Art is Not Dead|
We’re here through next week and then headed to the Alps, where the real running will begin. Hopefully the Mont Blanc Massif doesn’t make me pay too badly for cruising the Paris flats chasing down street art!