Volksmarch column for the January 7, 2010 edition
The big walk this weekend is the Randonnée du Rallye Paris Tour Eiffel in Paris. Looking back at Cheryl and "Pat" Patterson’s 2009 after-action report, which is strongly supported by our personal experiences, we offer these bits of advice.
• If you don’t like crowds, stay away. There were close to 17,000 participants at this event last year.
• The lights of the city were pretty, but it was too darn cold! Don’t do this walk unless the temperature is above freezing. Even then, dress in layers and don’t be afraid to make some stops along the way to visit a store or cafe to warm up.
• If you drive, be prepared for road tolls. The Pattersons paid 52.80 euros on autoroute tolls round trip last year, and we’re willing to bet it’s not any cheaper now. Have cash or a credit card ready.
• If you stay in a hotel, take plenty of money … nothing is inexpensive in Paris. But then, it is Paris.
• Take extra camera batteries for all the pictures you’ll be taking. Make sure there is plenty of space on your camera’s memory card, too.
The start is at the Halle George Carpentier, 81 Boulevard Massena. If you travel by Metro, take line 7 to the Porte d’Ivry stop. By car, exit the Paris Périphérique at Porte d’Italie. We have always used the Metro to get to the start, and based on the number of people who attend this walk, parking might be a challenge.
In addition to the usual 14- and 20-kilometer routes, this year’s walk will include a 13-kilometer trail that passes many of the bridges in Paris. The start time for the bridge route is noon. The other two routes start between 3 and 7 p.m. Whichever route you choose, make sure you are back to the start hall before it closes at 1 a.m. If anyone does the bridge walk, please write and tell us about this new course.
In the past, the routes were marked with chalk arrows on the sidewalk. These can be easy to miss even in the best conditions. Add a bit of snow and you’re reduced to playing follow-the-leader. But, with so many people doing the walk, this is easy. The downside to a lot of walkers is chaos at the control points. Just do your best with the crowds and get your start cards stamped.
One of the unusual aspects of this walk is that the 14-kilometer route does not return to the start hall; it finishes at the Paris Hotel de Ville. If you want IVV credit, you have to go back to the start hall to get your books stamped. There is a nearby Metro station that will take you there.
No matter the time of day or year, Paris is truly a beautiful and amazing city. We think this is a walk that all serious volksmarchers need to do at least once while in Europe. For more information on this walk and others in the Paris area, see www.godillot-familial.com.
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Tongeren, Belgium, after-action report: There was a new route this year. It took us past a horse racetrack and a partially frozen pond with all sorts of ducks and birds in the water and on the ice. We also went past some of our favorite sights, namely the ruins of the Roman walls and the statue of Ambiorix, the leader of the Eburones Tribe, which destroyed one of Julius Caesar’s legions in the winter of 53 B.C. After the walk, we visited the antiques market, but due to the cold, rainy weather and being so close to the holiday, there were only about half the usual number of vendors. We were not able to cross anything off our flea-market wish list, so we’ll be back to Tongeren soon.
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Doug LeVien told us he really enjoyed the evening illumination walk in Namur, Belgium, a couple of weeks ago. This Sunday, there will be a regular, daytime walk in Namur, starting between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. and finishing by 5 p.m. The flier mentions exceptional panoramas and free entrance to the town’s fortifications. It has been a few years, but we remember this as a very nice walk.
Thanks to these dedicated walkers for the fliers: William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro; Ramona and Horst Kechelen; John, Mary and Tess Laub; Tim and Luchi Lynch; "Pat" and Cheryl Patterson; Bob Gambert; Lew Harrison; Wayne Henry; Doug LeVien; and Nancy Shawley.
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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s events:
• If you missed completing a torch walk last fall, Gräfinau-Angstedt, Germany, is hosting a "Winter, Fackel and Glühwein" walk Saturday. The day portion of the walk starts at 10 a.m., while the torch walk starts at 3 p.m. You must be finished by 7:30 p.m.
• At Schömberg, Germany, the prize is a stuffed bunny rabbit doll.
• For an after-Christmas special, go to the walk in Unterpleichfeld, Germany, and get a B-medal for 2.20 euros.
A few notes from Clark Soeldner, our Italy volksmarch guru:
• The prize at Prova di San Bonifacio is a bottle of wine and a pound of fresh pasta. This is for the first 1,500 walkers.
• Following the walk in San Pietro in Gu, there will be a lottery drawing for prizes using the numbers on the start cards.
E-mail volksmarch information to email@example.com. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09752.