Tuesday, July 13, 2010


It began as most mornings would at home. Waking up to a water-powered alarm clock...no, really. We needed an alarm clock, so we bought one. Is one that runs on water that weird?

Dragging ourselves out of bed was harder than usual this morning. Perhaps it's the dearth of rest we've gotten on this trip, traversing La Ville de Lumières. I should have been more excited to visit the mystical boulders of Fontainebleau. For those of you who do not climb, a quick lesson. One, bouldering is climbing boulders without a rope to get on the top of them. There are often many ways to get to the top, some more difficult than others. Yes, it is quite a workout, and no, I do not wear gloves. Two, Font is revered as the largest and most developed climbing area in the world. People have been climbing on these sandstone boulders since the late 19th century.

Flashback to last night. Much to our chagrin, we discovered that the Chateau of Fontainebleau is closed on Tuesdays. Yes, folks, it is Tuesday. Visiting the chateau was supposed to be the counterbalance to the climbing and the alternative to Versailles. Why we never noticed that essential bit of knowledge before 23:00, I'll never know. After much discussion, we decided to go for it anyway. The gardens were open, and the transportation was little more than a train...then a bus...then a bike rental...and some unmarked forest trails on rickety mountain bikes.

No, this isn't turning into a Deliverance story. We saw no albino children and heard no banjo music. The trip there was expedited by our trusty two-wheeled steeds. The walks from the train station to town to the forest alone would have been close to 50 minutes one way. With the bus and bikes, it only took us twenty.

[Disclaimer, because of aforementioned poorly marked forest roads and limited directions from the Bleausards I contacted online prior to our excursion, the discovery of said boulders took closer to an hour. The weather was nice, and the sky only threatened to rain.]

While I explored a very small area of a vast bouldering playground, my better half dug deeper into The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and occasionally snapped my picture. The weather turned out glorious in the woods, and despite our utter lack of French language expertise, we were able to purchase sandwiches at the boulangerie in town, rent bikes, and find our way back to our apartment in the Latin Quartier.

Rest now for the weary. I soaked in some climbing history, climbed on some sloping sandstone, and had a marvelous day in the woods with my wife. I believe I owe her a ballet show or a back rub. I'm sure I'll wind up doing both in the very near future. If I wind up in France again in coming years, I will be sure to arrange a meeting with a Bleausard guide so the journey there is a little bit easier.

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