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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Despite August being the time when most Parisians vacate the city, we’re still here.  Although, we’ve moved a bit.  More on that in a moment!

1) Running the park

I headed out Friday evening prior to dinner to do a bit of a run around Bois de Vincennes.  I occasionally run here on my longer runs (since it’s about 3-4 miles from our apartment), as you can burn endless miles within it.  There’s plenty of running events that use it, and you can pretty much run a half-marathon completely inside it without repeating yourself.  I suspect with enough creativity you could also do a marathon.  But I lack that much creativity.

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I made a simple circuit, which included the chateau towards the end of it.  For this evening’s run I was mostly focused on figuring out a path that I could run with the stroller if I wanted to, so I just kept things on relatively easy terrain/paths.

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Whereas for my next run I’m going to do the opposite and try and find more of the single-track style trails that exist.  I’ve run some of them in the past.

Still, it’s one of my favorite parks in Paris in part because it’s just so darn big.  For comparison, NYC’s Central Park is 843 acres.  Bois de Vincennes? 2,459 acres. Boom!

Oh, and as always, testing some new stuff.  But more on that…when that happens.

2) Firing up the grill

At this point you may be wondering where I got a grill.  Or space for a grill for that matter.

Well, I still officially own neither.

But, our friends have gone back to Canada for August, and we’ve decided to occupy their mind-bogglingly amazing home on the other side of town (still in Paris).  A home that includes an amazing terrace and a grill.  Oh, and room for a tiny inflatable pool for The Peanut.  And air conditioning.  And it’s super modern and all-around awesome-sauce.

So, we grilled.

Actually, first we went out to Costco to pick up goods, much of which was centered around meat.

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No, we didn’t take home those cows.  Instead, the ones inside.

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Then we grilled.  We did steaks, and ribs, and more steaks, and hot dogs, and…more stuff I can’t remember.  After The Peanut went to bed we enjoyed a quiet outdoor dinner on the terrace…every night.

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I did the ribs for about 3 hours inside in the oven, and then on super-low heat for another 30-40 minutes outside on the grill.

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It was glorious.

3) Roaming the forest and the castle

With the park so near, it’s nice to just wander in the forests.  We headed out Saturday afternoon for one such wander.  Except, I didn’t take many photos unfortunately.

We ended up walking about 10KM or so, with both The Peanut and Lucy.  Lucy, of course, would get tired every once in a while and take a ride in the stroller.  Slacker.

And inversely, The Peanut would get bored every once in a while and want a ride atop me:

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And so it goes. I’m not sure how many miles I walked with her atop my shoulders, but it was definitely a non-zero number.  And annoyingly I get no step credit when pushing the stroller.

4) A Sunday Ride of Indecision

I couldn’t really decide where to ride Sunday.  With the park a mere 5-7 minutes away, doing loops on the section closed/dedicated for cyclists was an option.  But that’s not really a ‘good’ weekend long ride.  That’s just loops, and that should be reserved for weeknights or other periods of boredom.  Meanwhile, I actually don’t know any good/great routes heading eastwards out of Paris. Virtually all of my countryside routes are heading westward out of Paris.  And all my past eastward attempts have ended…less than awesomely.

Sure, I could follow the river trail, but that’s not really good for road riding – especially on a weekend in the summer.  Far too packed with slow moving and unpredictable pedestrians.

So instead I ended up combining the two looping parks into one gigantic city loop.  I did a few loops first at Bois de Vincennes near me, and then I crossed the entirety of the city to do a few more loops at Bois de Boulogne.

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It kinda worked.  And astoundingly, I got about 90 minutes of pretty steady riding in there, largely due to a lack of vehicle traffic in the city.  Near Longchamp there was some sort of rollerblading endurance competition going on.  They had a timing clock up showing 3 hours and 30 minutes.

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On the way back, the Champs-Élysées was closed to cars for its monthly Sunday closure for pedestrians/cyclists (sorta like this).  I could have ridden down it as well, but that meant taking the bike through the security checkpoint, and there was already a bit of a line.  Plus I’d probably have to explain why I had half a dozen head units, three cameras, and more with me.

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So instead I just looped around it before crossing the city the rest of the way back to home.

If you’ve got any suggestions for eastward routes that are quiet country-ride type stuff – I’m all ears!  Totally open to one-way routes where I take a train back, too.

5) Fetching an umbrella

Our friends’ rooftop terrace is fabulous.  It’s got plenty of sun and again, the grill.  Except all that sun was becoming quite hot for The Peanut, being you know, directly under the sun.  We tried to arrange a shade using some sheets, but on the 3rd attempt of that making Caspar out of The Peanut, we decided to go get an umbrella.

So while The Girl was out for her workout I took The Peanut down to the hardware store.  It’s not far away – about a kilometer on the walking/running/cycling trail.

Interestingly, when you walk in the front door of the store, they actually have bikes you can rent to carry goods back.  We’re thinking of renting one just for the fun of it one day.

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In any case, I soon found the umbrellas.  And by plural, I mean there was a pile of umbrellas of exactly one model to choose from.  39EUR, which isn’t too bad for a big 3-meter wide wooden and cloth umbrella.

The only trick? Getting it back home. I hadn’t really thought through this part yet.  But soon I had a solution!  Just after the checkout stands they had twine and a large assortment of cutting tools.  For future reference, none of those scissors or cutting things were somehow sharp enough to cut the twine. I had to use a saw. Seriously.

Before long though I had a missile launcher attached to The Peanut’s stroller. She didn’t look thrilled about the addition.

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I was ready for business.  As was her chicken:

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People gave us some odd looks – though not as much as I’d probably have received in the US.  Folks here are used to creative methods to get things home from the hardware store.  The closer you are to one, the more crazy and whacky things you’ll see.

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As an aside, my second brilliant move of the day was using my running Spibelt to strap her little cup of Cheerios onto the cart so she doesn’t throw it overboard.  The Cheerio cup is actually called a ‘snack trap’, and it makes it a bit of challenge for her to get the snacks out (or spill everywhere). Also: It’s how we get through 12-hour transoceanic plane flights frequently (she flew over 30 flights in her first year).  Pure magic.

Also totally suitable to fill with M&M’s and have it slow you from eating them too fast.

Umbrella success:

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In unrelated news, about 8 minutes after I got the umbrella setup we got a text back from our friends that their umbrella was located in the basement.

With that – thanks for reading and have a great week ahead!

Oh – and don’t forget the Giveaway Extravaganza on Wednesday!!!!

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25 Comments

  1. Sam

    There is plenty of routes going eastward, just follow the marnes from the pont de joinville a nice ride will be to go to the base de loisirs de torcy and turn to euro Disney for a loop around the park and come back by the marnes

  2. Marc Simkin

    Central Park is only the 5th largest park in NYC. The Bronx has 3 of the top 10 parks by size in NYC.

    Next time your in town, you should check out Pelham Bay Park (2,765 acres) and Van Cortlandt Park (1,146 acres). Van Cortlandt Park has a 3 mile cross country trail that in the fall is used by high schools and colleges for meets.

    Also, try and get to Highbridge Park in northern Manhattan as they have a 3 miles of mountain bike trails.

    -marc

  3. Brian

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets annoyed when not getting steps credit while pushing a stroller. My wife makes fun of me for pushing the stroller with only my right hand as I try and salvage some steps. The irony is that I don’t even really track or goal myself on steps, I just hate knowing I’m being short changed. I believe it also happens during runs with the jogging strollers, but at least then the GPS is on to capture the right distance. The cadence graph looks funny on Strava.

    • Daniel W Sekera

      It is also not just the not getting of the step credit that annoys me, it is the total lack of respect for me and my data by the capturing company that does not allow me the opportunity to modify my own data. To not be able to edit activities is incomprehensible to me. If i do the same route every day and know it takes 4000 steps and forget my device, why is it so much to ask to be able to “add” 4000 steps to that day manually?

    • Yeah, I often do the one-handed push as well. But this time I was wearing two GPS watches (one per wrist), so had to decide which one would get credit. Kinda split the difference.

    • Alasdair Gardner

      Yup this has been annoying me for 3 years, so I just pop the watch (watches in Ray’s case) in the pocket.

    • Neil

      I use my Samsung watch to track my daily activity, but when running I don’t want to wear that as well as my Polar watch. Fortunately the Galaxy phone also counts steps, and I always have that in a waist belt in case of emergencies, so my daily total is maintained. You just have to set the Samsung health app to aggregate the watch and the phone step count.

  4. Eli

    That cargo bike uses normal pedals so easy to attach a pedal power meter

  5. fraser

    At first glimbse I thought, you wanted to cut the umbrella in half. :D

  6. George

    I found putting my Garmin in my pocket while pushing the stroller is enough to trigger the step counter. Sucks trying to tell time, but at least I get my steps.

  7. Carl

    Suddenly, my online ads are all about grills and patio umbrellas….

  8. An awesome way of making your own cycle routes is with link to cycle.travel works a dream and only uses minor roads etc :-)

  9. Simon

    Hi Ray, for rides in the east of Paris, you could take the RER A to Torcy and then go from there There are a lot of options depending what you are looking for (climbs or flat). Below are some of my strava activities:

    link to strava.com
    link to strava.com
    link to strava.com

  10. DS

    Just thought I’d remind you that you have the greatest life ever. I rented an apartment in the building next to yours (not a stalker! — this was before you moved in), and it was one of the greatest places I’ve ever stayed. To live there permanently with an adorable kid and a wife who can make macaroons … what a blessing.

    It was that pic of the steak and wine that sent me over the edge. Want to go to there.

    • Mike Richie

      Yes, I think that part of the point of this blog is for Ray to make us all jealous (or at least give us a chance to live vicariously) ;)