The moment we got off he Eurostar in Gare du Nord we realised that the adventure was starting again. The language, the food, the culture the way of doing things is all so very different. Spending time in the UK is like spending time with close family; Canada is a slightly more distant cousin. France is a mysterious stranger you meet in a bar. So much to learn, to understand and to enjoy.
Thanks to airline points, we spent the one night we had in Paris near the station in a very quirky and comfortable hotel called Robinet d’or before picking up a car and hitting the road.
One of the great things about being in France is that pretty much everyone knows the company I work for and many are rather proud of this huge French successes story. This also means that we get good deal with car hire companies, and I’m pretty sure the faux X 4 SUV I picked up is rather better than the 208 I booked.
Before we hit the road, I had a lovely run – following the canal south to the river, then heading west along the banks, around Notre-Dame and then back. Notre-Dame has had a tough time since then and I went to sleep rather upset the night it was on fire but was delighted that it was saveable when I woke the following morning.
I’ve mentioned before the tension I feel between my views on the negative impact of religion, past and present and the majesty of the buildings that are so many have produced. I find myself getting annoyed that so much money is spent preserving buildings rather than looking after those that need help, then getting annoyed when I see an ancient building crumbling away because the organisation want to spend all of their money looking after their communities.
The vast amounts of money pledged to restore the magnificent building shows one thing; we can afford to do both, we just choose not to.
We left Paris, keeping ‘The bear in the middle of the road’ – the phrase J uses to remind me to stay on the correct side of the road – and headed south to our first stop; Bourges.