Sunday, May 29, 2005

Paris to Niort

Weather again better than forecast. and the TV suggests the next couple of days will be good, though it may be (as I'd expected) wet in Niort when I arrive. Today (as I write this sitting near the Eiffel Tower) there is high cloud. Smart cars are very popular, and I've even seen a forfour. While walking here, I've seen a chap leading a string of ponies and donkeys for rides near Invalides, OB units by Concorde for the referendum, the Louvre with virtually no queue to get in (just about 10:00 on a Sunday), a garden growing in the vertical face of the new Museum being built on the Quai Branly (alpines and other flowers, not only creepers). Lots of rollerbladers dicing with the traffic, and the usual women with begging pitches on cards to thrust out at the tourists where there are some to be found. But there are other green places to sit to kill time. And a lot of antiques fairs today, all around where I've walked. But the most eyestopping sight is a woman obviously in her fifties at one of the antiques fairs with hair as candyfloss pink as an anime girl.

The Gare Montparnasse is cleaner and livelier than last year, with a lot of stalls open.

I am not amused to find that the train I've been booked on goes directly to Niort, not needing the gratuitous change at Poitiers that Belle France organised. That's just a delay for no reason.

There is a flurry of rain near St. Pierre Des Corps (Tours). There are blushes of poppies in the fields towards Chatellerault, and more sprinkling of rain at Poitiers as I wait. At least the station signing is good, and I just have to wait on the same platform for the local train (which fortunately is new, and almost empty).

The pavements are damp in Niort when I arrive, and the walk to the hotel cool and dry, by contrast with last year. The bike is already waiting for me, and I just have enough time to change and get back down when the chap arrives to check everything OK. Bike is much the same as last year's.

Now time for a much needed bath, and by the time I'm done, the rain is back and has set in. The weather forecast looks good for the week, though I think I shall avoid the off-road bit tomorrow. Dinner is crab&avocado, chunky pork rib joint with spicy rice, cheese, and the Haut Poitou rosé from last year.

Initial result 55% Non!

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