Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

29 July 2016

From The Beach To The Cathedral

I took a ride to the beach:

It probably doesn't remind you of any beach you have visited. (I know:  I'm assuming you've been to a beach. Believe it or not, I've actually met people who haven't.)  That's because "Paris Plage" (Paris Beach) is actually on a stretch of the Left Bank.  Of course, nobody goes swimming in the Seine:  As far as I know, it's not allowed and no sane person would do such a thing.   Many Parisians go to actual beaches in places like Deauville and Dieppe on the English Channel, Lacanau (really nice--I've been there!) and La Rochelle on the Atlantic and, of course, any number of places along the Mediterranean.  But even the hardiest denizen of the City of Light can't get to them in a day by bike!

As you probably surmised, I didn't come to Paris to go to the beach.  In fact, I've never traveled anywhere specifically to go to the beach, and have no interest in doing such a thing.  (I must be one of the few people in this world who has had no wish to go to Hawai'i.)  I didn't even come for the biking, although that is worthwhile.  Rather, I'm here to see friends and "get kuhl-chyuh".  So, of course, I split most of yesterday between two museums.

As the old neighbor I met the other day learned, the Museum Pass isn't worth it.  At least, there aren't very many people for whom it's worthwhile.  First of all, nobody should go to more than two museums in one day--especially if one of the museums is a big one.  Hopping from one museum to another--one of the few things that makes a Museum Pass worthwhile--induces burnout in even the most avid art and artifact lover.  And, if anyone visiting a large museum like the Louvre for the first time should devote a whole day to it.  (Please, please don't be one of those people who goes in, takes a selfie with the Mona Lisa and leaves!)  If it's not your first visit to such a museum and you want to spend, say, a morning or an afternoon, choose an exhibit (a temporary one is a good idea) or theme or genre (like, say, 18th Century French paintings) and spend your time in those.

Also, if you're going to be in town for a few days and you want to do more than one museum (or activity) on  a given day, choose venues that are near each other.  Having to make mad dashes across town will burn you out almost as easily as trying to take in too much at once.

Another tip:  Check to see whether a museum you want to visit is open late on a particular night.  For example, I found out that the Musee d'Orsay is open until 9:45 pm (a.k.a. 21h45) on Thursdays--which worked very nicely for me yesterday.

Speaking of the d'Orsay:  I also learned that there's a combination ticket available for that museum and the nearby Musee Rodin.  That combo (jumelee) ticket allows its holder to visit each museum once at any time from three months after the ticket is purchased and costs a few euros less than purchasing each museum's tickets individually.

So...I spent yesterday morning and early afternoon at the Rodin.  Time there is some of the most rewarding and cathartic time I can spend off my bike.  

The very first time I went to the Muesum, more years ago than I care to admit, some of the sculptures--two in particular--affected me in such a basic way that I could not understand, let alone explain.  

On one hand (pun intended), the fingers resemble the arches of a Gothic catheral.  But the first time I saw "Cathedrale", I knew that it wasn't only about the structure or inner architecture of a big medieval chuch, any more than Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein is about a monster created in a laboratory.   Rather, it's about the forces that arise within us, and what we create within as well.   Rodin's cathedral is not just; it is a space we find or create, as needed.

Then there is this.  

While actually part of the Porte d'Enfer (Gate of Hell) monument, Rodin actually made a copy of it as a stand-alone.  One of the reasons why it affected me as it did was that I could feel the tensions between--I was going to say between the man and woman, but I knew it wasn't really about them.  The man and woman are distinct individuals,but they are really the same person--which is the source of the tension.

If that isn't my story, I don't know what is.  Cycling is not an escape from it; rather, it integrates those tensions and turns them into motion.  At least, that is what cycling has always done for me, long before I understood it.

After spending the morning and early afternoon at the Rodin, I rode--over a distance only slightly more than that between the Picasso and Cognaq Jay--to the Orsay.   


  1. Would the museum pass be worth if you were in Paris at least 5 days ? (includes Versailles). Also you can skip the long lines if you have a pass.


  2. Ideally you should be allowed to ride a bike in the Louvre, think it is the only way to see it all. We try to get to Museums / Art Galleries early and often miss a chance to visit their shops as we are pushed out at end of the day.

    Afternoon tea in the Musee D'Orsay has to be the best museum rest n Paris.

  3. RM--It might be worthwhile, depending on how many meseums you want to visit. As I said, don't do more than two in a day.

    Also, remember that the Museum Pass allows you to skip lines in some, not all, museums!

    Coline--I agree that bikes should be allowed in the Louvre, for the reasons you cite.