I feel like a horse smelling the stable as I reach near the end of this journey. Provins, Moret sur Loing and then Fontainebleau are the last stops for me to see. All of them filled with tourists during this late summer days. It’s amusing to come out of a vast empty fields and suddenly see tour operator’s buses lined up in large dedicated parking lots, as they bring to Provins travelers from all over the world. None of them are here to see the modern sections of the town outside the fortifications, and I could bet that nobody in the future will ever care to see what this past century has “erected”. Everyone comes for the beauty of the past. And Provins, like many former fortified cities is very well preserved, still looking today as it did a few centuries ago. The other great thing about Provins is the vast choice of hotels, some particularly nice, even though it is way to early for me to think about chilling in a spa before an early meal in some fancy local restaurant. It’s also way to late in my journey to care. Too close to my own home which will always provide me with a better rest.
Going from no-one to such a crowd in an instant is challenging. As when diving, you need several “steps” to adapt on your way back to the surface. Rushing through them will have dire repercussions, just like going from total darkness to full bright light. Not good. Too busy, too noisy, almost to the point of feeling claustrophobic. A congested feeling amplified by the fact we are all inside a small town, enclosed in large and tall protective walls. Amusingly I use to feel the same while living in Dubai, where I needed to regularly leave the craziness of the city to regroup in the solitude of the desert. I guess I am an hermit of sort, having to run away from society ! Instead to talking to others, I have embraced the habit of talking to myself.
After Provins the tracks are wide, often exposed, offering clear views on the horizon. Battles have taken place on this land. People have died here sometime during the middle ages, for what now seems ridiculous reasons. But today all is quiet, peaceful, offering no resistance to my will to speed. I pass Montereau, where the Seine and the Yonne rivers meet-up on their way to Paris. A statue of Napoleon is standing at the meeting point. Montereau must have been pretty once, but is now disfigured by modernity and doesn’t invite my attention. Instead I zoom through, hoping to reach Moret sur Loing before the sun comes down.
Once considered the gate between the Ile de France and Burgundy. In other words the frontier between the kingdom of France and the Duchy of Burgundy, this small village has attracted numerous painters, like Alfred Sisley, eager to transpose its beauty on their canvases. And what a site it is, when you reach the old bridge crossing over the Loing, leading to the Burgundy gate, the southern entrance to the ancient city. Again, tourists are flocking the streets and river banks to enjoy the last rays of the sun. A local ice cream shop has people lined up far in the distance for a scoop. A wait well worth it as I enjoy mine my feet soaking in the river current.
After diner I’ll ride up to the forest behind and look for a comfortable spot to spend my last night under the stars. My last night away from the noise.