Sunday, August 19, 2007
Paris has yet another amazing thing it is doing for the folks that live here ( sometimes it gets a little daunting how many perks the city offers to the residents)... there are now free bikes all across town... 10, 000 of them at the moment, with 20,000 projected by the end of the year. They're not totally free. You have to take a year's 'subscription' for 30 euros, but then every ride under a half hour is free and it's about one euro an hour after that.
Here is Lisa showing off her ability to ride through the 2nd busiest intersection in the city (Place de la Concorde) in high heels.
The city isn't completely a bunch of trusting fools handing out bikes to all and sundry. You have to register your credit card and there is a fine if you damage or lose the bike... but they're very sturdy little things and it would be hard to do much damage to them.
We rode all over the city on a beautiful, but chilly Saturday and then down onto the Quai of the Seine and over to the left bank.
The only flaw in the system is that we picked up the bikes on the edges of the city and tried to drop them off in the centre, but we weren't the only ones with the same idea, so all the drop off points were already full. But, cycling around Paris for 15 minutes looking for a space on a calm afternoon is not exactly the worst thing in the world, and eventually we found a space near St. Sulpice and clicked them and headed into the pedestrian throng...
Prince has a song on his new album with lyrics that go something like 'I love you baby, but not like I love my guitar"... I don't know if I'd go that far... (especially with Lisa being able to read this blog and all) but I'm powerful fond of this new guitar.. It's a Cort Electro-Acoustic and it's just a lovely little thing... not an expensive machine, but with a great finish, a gorgeous back made of American Maple and (at least according to my research on the net) some really good technology packed into the pickup in the body. Certainly the sound that's coming out is very fine. I'm looking forward to getting on stage with it in the fall.
Well it is great to back in France and down in Burgundy for a while... and what better way to welcome ourselves back to the rich and wacky history then a visit to a (surprisingly not wacky) medieval castle in process. Yeah, in process: about 10 years ago the owner of a chateau in Burgundy came up with the idea to find some wild land and build a 12th Century Castle.
They're using the plans that have been found from the period and working with archaeologists and historians to try and recreate the construction techniques of the period, and experiment with theories in places where they are not sure of how they did it.
All the material comes from the neighbourhood of the Castle... i.e. the Castle itself is built out of the quarry that will become the moat, the mortar is mixed from the chalk that they've dug out of the land beside them, the forest around is their supply for wood, they weave their own rope from the sheep on their land...etc, etc... our fear was that it would be kind of disney, but it was very serious and calm and informative.
The workman break their tasks to explain to you how and why they are doing their work and the work itself progresses very slowly and steadily. I was struck by how quiet the enormous worksite was. I'm used to thinking of a construction site being all pounding and noise and metal on metal, but here there is only the slow movement of stones and wood and the chinking of chisels... i guess in medieval ages when there would have been a whole rowdy village around the site it would have been a little more lively... as it was the snorting pigs were the rowdiest things there that afternoon....