Today was our last day of riding! The tour has been quite tiring because we didn’t have a rest day in the middle, so we are all feeling it a bit.
Before describing our day though, we should say a little about our fellow cyclists. We have really enjoyed this trip, not least because of this really lovely group. As mentioned, we had seven Canadians, six Americans and us two Aussies. All the Canadians were technically travelling as a group, although in fact some of them had never met. The key central person for their group had at the last minute actually decided not to come on the trip, so all of them knew her but not necessarily each other! They mostly come from small towns in Alberta and Yukon, with one coming from Victoria in BC. And they were almost all really, really nice! We enjoyed each others’ company immensely and laughed a lot. Four of the Americans were also travelling in a group and live in California, with the other couple coming from a small town in Missouri. They were all also very nice and interesting. All were well travelled; the Missouri couple have been on over 60 bike trips! Among them were several teachers, a college president, an Apple programmer (one of the Californians of course), a social enterprise consultant, and a former taster for Black Velvet whiskey! The word “Trump” was not mentioned once, although we are sure that almost everyone veered politically towards the left, and needless to say our dinner conversations were lively and entertaining.
Everyone was agreeably cooperative and punctual, and were of similar ability and fitness, so the riding was very enjoyable indeed, and meant that we were able to ride together in a compact group.
On our last day we headed out towards Ablon. We rode along the banks of the Seine where possible, even encountering the Elodie on her travels down the river. We experienced all cycling conditions today, from busy trafficked roads, to quiet country lanes, to pleasant bike paths to rougher forest tracks; a very appropriate route for ending our lovely tour.
We stopped for lunch at Corbeill-Essonnes, where a local market dominated the central square. The final leg followed the river bank, until we turned a corner to see the Elodie welcoming us home.
After a quick shower and change, it was time to enjoy seeing the Elodie sail into Paris. Lan headed up to the wheelhouse to watch our captain Chango at work, getting us through the last lock of the day. This work is easy for Chango, as he used to captain seagoing tugboats - much more difficult and dangerous work. In fact one of the reasons why he stopped that work was that in recent years conditions at sea have been getting much worse; storms that used to last 2-3 days now last a week or more at a time. But of course climate change would have nothing to do with that …
The Elodie arrived at the edge of the older part of the city and the full magnificence of Paris rose up around us. Under a splendid setting sun, we sailed past iconic sites such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Palais Royale, Place de la Concorde, etc. Quite lovely.
The minus of being sailed past all these wonderful places is that we were to berth a long way out of the main part of Paris. Normally the Elodie docks at Port de Plaisance de l’Arsenal, which is very close to the Ile de Saint Louis (and where we boarded the Elodie in 2012 on our last tour). But because it was late in the season, that port was closed and we had to berth much further down the river, near Pont de Sèvres. This is a fairly industrial area so it wasn’t half as pretty, and its location meant that getting into town and arranging our departure on Sunday morning would be a little more complicated than we had planned.
Nevertheless, the river cruise was really lovely and we had a little party on the deck as we enjoyed the passing view.
Tonight was also our last dinner on the boat as we had a free day tomorrow. We had a French-themed meal of smoked salmon on a dill mayonnaise, confit of duck, and crème brulée.
Jane and Lan sang a revised version of “Rubber Duckie” to thank the Elodie crew for a lovely tour. It went something like this:
Elodie team you're the one
You made our tour lots of fun
Elodie team we’re awfully fond of you
Elodie team what a crew
Nina guides our course so true
Elodie team you're the very best through and through
Everyday we have weather forecasts from Chango
You make our days a pleasure we feel we’re dancing the tango
Jantien’s dinners are so fine
You can cook for us anytime
Elodie team we’re sure goin’ to miss you
Elodie team we send you a kiss too
Elodie team we’re awfully fond of you
It seemed to go down well and we had to do an encore later so that the Canadians could video it!
After dinner Nina conducted a quiz, with each dining table competing with each other. Questions had been submitted by each of us during the day and were all tour-related (e.g,, How long is the Elodie? What is Chango’s real name? What was the name of Heloise and Abelard’s son?) Our table lost, but only just and only because the other table cheated! Anyway, much laughter and fun was had by all, and we followed it up with dancing, card playing and chatting. A fitting end to a really wonderful tour!