South of Compiègne, GR 655 passes through an extensive forest, called Godot. It only opens up about 10 km before Senlis. In tiny Raray which basically is an exclusive golf club with an expensive hotel, I put up my bivouac. There was some curious deer passing me at night.
Even if it represented only a fifth of the total trajectory, reaching Paris was a major milestone for me. I had walked for hours through the Senlis forest until at about 19:00 the green suddenly opened and I could see Paris in the distance and the airplanes coming in to Charles de Gaule. It was a breathetaking moment for me. I wanted to come as close as possible to the capital, so I still pushed it until small Boqueval, where at about 21:00 I found a place to mount my bivouac.
When I left the Senlis forest, I came into a small village and wanted to buy some water but couldn´t find a store. A young man explained me that there is no one close and when he saw my despair he gave me his small bottle of water he had in his hands.
I reached the Seine relatively early but than it was still a long walk to Saint James Tower / Notre Dame where I stayed for 2 nights in the Mont Blanc hotel (where else?). The price for the hotel was ok, much cheaper than Brussels, the surrounding was charming but the 9 Euro beer in a relatively simple bar was like a bad joke to me.
My first day off and I need to comment on Paris. It is the fourth or fifth time that I have been to this place and I always tried to understand, why this city is so famous and the top tourist destination in the World but the truth is, I can´t see it.
Its a marvellous city, pretty diverse in many aspects, very international and large so you have a lot of options. But for me a great city always comes together with a great environment which Paris doesn´t have. There is no sea, no mountains, not even some lakes around, as Berlin has for instance. It is surrounded by a vast flatland full of potatoe and cornfields.
And there are almost no views! There is one ridicolous hill of 50 height meters or so, they call Mont Martre from where you have a nice view over the roofs of Paris but man, the view from Vancouver on the Broken Island Group or from Insbruck on the Austrian Alps or from Sugar Loaf Key on Rio de Janeiro is a different story.
I think, if you like this schicky micky Dartagnan style, Paris really is worth a visit to spend some time and money, as in many metropoles on this planet but I personally prefer Venice, Rome or Barcelona!
Having said that, I recognize that my opinion is irrelevant because it continues to be the top tourist destination in the World and that counts.
It rained almost the whole day since I left Paris and the only hotel that Google Maps indicated me in Gometz la Ville didn´t exist anymore. Luckily I spotted a kind of open air roof aside of a water storage pool which is where I put my sleeping bag and spread the other stuff. I was cold and wet and pretty drunk because I stayed in a kind of bar on the other side of the road until it got dark. At least I had a beautiful sunset.
Probably one of the toughest days. I reached Ablis in the late afternoon and should have stayed there but I continued. Sometimes I used the cel phone GPS in conjunction with Google Maps because the zooming is easier. You even can search for routes from one point to another in a kind of “walking mode” but this is still a beta function and I would really advise everybody who is reading this not to use it.
In my case it guided me directly on a heavy circulated national road. About half an hour after I left Ablis the sky which was already black for a while exploded above me and tons of water fell upon my head. In addition, large trucks were throwing their wind hoses and more water into my face when they passed by with 120 km / h or more. Also in France there is almost no paved margin on the sideline where you could walk so everytime a truck passed by I had to step into the wet pastry to my left with my old shoes which didn´t have any Gorotex protection left at all.
To leave these national roads is not so easy and mostly related to big detours because there are no nice secondary roads running parallel. Well, somewhen I was so wet and cold and tired that I left the road and moved about 4 km west of this highway to a little village, called Bleury.
My great luck was that I found relatively quick an empty barn which I entered immediately, spread my wet equipment and fell asleep within 5 minutes.
I don´t remember much of that day despite long walks through green cornfields and at night I stayed on the first official campsite where I got my first St. James stamp. I met another guy who was on a smaller pilgrimage in the opposite direction and who invited me to stay in his house in Poitiers when I would pass there in some days.
I had been hit by a rainfront some km before Châteaudun and when I reached the market place where I changed my clothes and tried to reorganize my stuff, these teenagers spotted me. This was my end! Where do you come from? Where do you go? Why do you live in Brazil? Do you have a wife? etc.
So I took some photos with them and ran out of this town as fast as I could.