Tuesday, November 24, 2015 – Thoiry to Saint-sur-l’École
Today’s forecast is for cool and rainy conditions. We enjoy some different types of pathways today, including cobblestones and stairways.
This particular chateau is the first I’ve seen with a moat – dry now, but at one point presumably filled with water, and perhaps some manner of terrifying creature.
Extending from the moat to the chateau’s entrance is a long, wide hedge carved at various points with exotic African animals. I think of the modern American chateau equivalents – owned by ridiculously wealthy people like Kelcy Warren, whose huge mansion sports a large game preserve. Whereas this chateau owner undoubtedly gained his wealth through the cheap labor of medieval serfs, Warren’s wealth is through the exploitation of oil. The “serfs” he tramples on to build his extravagance are Iowa farmers, whose land he wants to build a pipeline across, and all the front-line communities impacted by climate change.
I am in a meditative walking mode this morning, and also groggy because we have not yet had breakfast or tea. Shortly after the chateau, I spot an inviting cafe, one that offers big, comfortable chairs. I enjoy my cup of tea in unusual luxury, by my standards. The only thing missing is an exotic African animal sitting in the seat next to me.
At noon, the temperature still sits at 34. The rain vacillates between moderate and misty. These are, in theory, the least pleasant conditions to walk in. But if I keep moving, it’s not so bad, and with occasional nooks and crannies to visit in the towns we passed through, today’s walk qualifies as pleasant.
I talk with a handful of people along the way. My French language skills are usually adequate for casual conversation, but not much good beyond that. It is difficult for me to dig in to questions about the summit, climate change, the refugee crisis, the terrorist attacks. One thing my limited French has gathered for sure is that I’ve not meet a single French person who doesn’t understand the urgency of the climate crisis.
Most of today’s route leads through forest. The path is muddy, but that is a small price to pay for the pleasure of being under trees, away from traffic. The trails run mostly straight, and there are frequent large piles of timber. I am pleased not to see any clear-cut sections, and sense that I am walking through a forest that is well managed.
I step straight out of the trees into suburban Paris! It is a sharp, slightly jarring transition. But I am ready to be done. Steve has gone on to our hotel, which I have trouble finding as my phone does not work well in the rain. I add an additional hour and a couple kilometers to my day, but no complaints.