Thursday, July 16, 2009

TDF 2009: Stage 13: Arrivee en France

BBB arrived in France today on an Air France flight to Paris that despite crying babies and little barking dogs was seamless and pleasant.

They even allow you to bring your bike box as a piece of baggage as long as it is less than 50 pounds--with no extra charge.

I was concerned that the tape on the top of my box might not be enough, and I asked if I should affix "Fragile" stickers to the outside of the carton, to which the Air France representative (in New York) said with a little sniff--"We do not abuse the baggage."

The most important thing about France is that everything seems to be so well designed, and thus a visual pleasure.

In the Charles de Gaulle airport, even the windows opening to striations of roadways all at different levels, entertaining the eye and the brain as you move along to your connection.

Windows are made specifically for light to come through at unique angles, and to view the majestically arraigned airplanes outside. According to Wikipedia, the airport began rebuilding in 1966, and Terminal 1 was built "to an avant-garde design of a ten-floor high circular building surrounded by seven satellite buildings each with four gates. The main architect was Paul Andreu, who was also in charge of the extensions during the following decades."

But what BBB loved most of all about this airport were the little smoking boxes. This was a fantasy I had back in the day, before the time of smoking bans, every night out dancing (yes, BBB used to go clubbing, before the healthy days of cycling), was like inhaling 1000 cartons of cigarettes.

I used to lay in bed imagining a small box in the middle of the dance floor of my favorite club, just for smokers, smoking their brains out.

It appears I am not the only one who dreamed that dream. It's an excellent solution, and serves a double purpose of making the smokers appear a little like illegal interlopers. "Has smoking gone down in France?" I asked a traveler in the terminal. "I think so," he said.

There are also these great WIFI stands in the terminal but you have to pay about $3 for 15 minutes of connection. A fellow traveler who no longer needed his lent me his. In New York before boarding the flight to Paris, I went online for 5 minutes and paid $7.95. It seems these days nothing is free anymore.

BBB is now headed off to Strasbourg, where we will rent a car and drive down to Colmar to catch the stages over the mountains. The race hasn't started yet this morning--it will start around noon. So we should be there in time to catch the worst mountain passes.

More later!

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