In 2012 I bought a Jeep and moved to Dubai. From then on everything having to do with the outdoors involved the Jeep. You could say I became an off-roader, but in all fairness it came out of necessity more than will. The long distance outings in the desert, under unforgiving heat, and without the possibility to regularly refill my supplies, all made it almost impossible to envision adventure without my beloved car.
It was all great and I still love driving off and sharing my overlanding experience in remote locations with you, but one of the things I was looking for when I decided to return to Europe, was the chance to go again explore by “fair means”. In other words, venture out on foot, on a bike or a canoe, just as I used to back in the days.
That wish is turning to reality today, as I leave my house behind on this fresh morning for a 600 and some kilometers ride through French history. Indeed, for the next few days, I’ll be cycling around Paris, following the trails and single tracks of the GR 11, as it loops around the Île de France region, passing through some of the most impressive architectural vestiges of this country’s glorious past. Castles, cathedrals and other religious monuments, fortified farms, forgotten hamlets, all scattered along the way, offering welcomed cultural stopovers between never ending fields and ancestral forests.
I am not entering unknown territories here. I already cycled or trekked around those trails many times, having lived here many years between overseas relocations. But no track is ever the same. Nature offers new perspectives for whom never gets tired of observing what he or she is given. It is also important to remember that beauty is everywhere. That we don’t need to go all across the world to be impressed. Often, just like for me today, all it takes is to open the door and step outside with a curious mind.
For the next few days (depending on internet connections) I’ll try to share with you my impressions as I advance on this journey. Pictures, anecdotes, or moods will fill those letters from the GR 11. All of which will then be combined in a proper travel guide upon my return.
See you shortly.