by Lorenzo Piccoli
Early on Saturday morning. Arianna on the bike, myself on a trottinette, half an hour through the empty streets of Paris to reach Gare de Lyon. Other youngsters arrive by bike. They have portable mattresses for bouldering. We take the train to Fontainebleau.
We walk randomly until we reach the Gorges d’Aupremont. Then we head to Barbizon, which became famous after the Barbizon School of painters like Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet, and Jean-Baptiste Corot. We note the picturesque main street, the luxuriant gardens, the sophisticated roofs of the houses.
It is already late afternoon when we leave Barbizon: Fleury-en-biere, Perthes, Saint Sauveur sur école, Avernaux, Saint Fargeau. These villages remind me of my childhood, when I would visit them often, week in, week out. Never in person; in the videogames. Many of them would be based on World War II, and in World War II there is always a moment when you play the American soldier (or, more rarely, the British trooper) advancing through Normandy and then down until you reach Paris in the summer. I know this sounds extremely controversial. Awkwardly, the image of a chill French summer stuck with me.
We arrive at the farm. It is our first encounter with a public space in almost three months. It takes little to adjust. The owners smile often. I am destroyed. Arianna bursts with energy. We have dinner and breakfast in the garden. It feels like I am now living the dream I had during the confinement.
We walk to Ponthierry, then along the Seine to Vosves, and from there to Villiers-en-Biére. We decide to stop there. There is a big field with crops and a park that is completely empy. We nap there. We later discover the park is empty because it is closed to the public to contain the spread of the virus. Ops.
We finish the day with a very long crossing of the forest. After winter and two additional months with ho human beings, the forest is taking control again. Most tracks are completely hidden by the vegetation. Without the map, we would not be able to find and follow them. It feels special to walk in the wild.
We arrive in Bois le Roi and back to Gare de Lyon.