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A morning hike on my doorstep

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Friday, August 22, 2014

For most of my hikes, I drive about one hour away, and it really feels like I am on a mini-vacation. Well, not this morning, I only drove about 10 minutes to reach my starting point... I very much hiked on my doorstep! Or I should say on my mother's doorstep as I was very near her nursing home at some point.

Most of today's hike was through the woods, the gorgeous Montmorency Forest North of Paris. As I said, this is home to me, yet I really don't know this forest much. I live between two forests, Montmorency and Ecouen, and Ecouen, much smaller, I know very well. If you have seen my 'routine walk' blog, that was in Ecouen.

Anyway, back to Montmorency Forest. It is quite big (by Parisian suburbs' standards!). So I saw only a small part of it today, near Bouffémont, and the Château de la Chasse, where the kings used to stay when they came hunting (it means Hunting Castle). It is built by a lake, which I thought was quite enchanting today.

Now let me tell you the Château de la Chasse looks very strange because the towers of this 12th-century castle were cut (centuries ago), and it just looks a bit wrong in my opinion. But in a lovely way. A bit unbalanced, but fun (and hey, this isn't a Disney castle we are talking about but a proper medieval castle, so Claire, show a bit of respect please!). ;-)

And the middle part of the castle, between the two towers, looks just like a normal French house! Very strange. There is no way it looked like this in medieval times of course... But again, it is quite charming!

And I am not the only one to feel that way. I have only been once in my life to Château de la Chasse before, even though it is very close to home, and that was to post a blog about it a couple of years ago! Otherwise I never go there, because at weekends it feels like the motorway at rush hour, only with pedestrians and cyclists instead of cars. It is mad. But I only saw about 15 people there today, plus two groups of young children. So that was OK, even for a loner like me!!!

The castle was the middle of the hike and felt a bit like the purpose of it, so I was wondering whether I would find the hike interesting again after I left it behind.

Well, Montmorency Forest keeps one busy!!! Not only there is always something to look at (beautiful trees, among other things), but the steep paths keep you on your toes too!

First I stopped at Fountain Saint Radegonde. Its water was supposed to cure sterility and was a very popular destination in the 16th century. It used to be next to the Priory of Notre-Dame-de-Bois-Saint-Père, which doesn't exist anymore. It is only the woods around the fountain now.

In the second part of my hike I also crossed an area with lots of heather... I so love heather... so romantic!

I forgot to mention the spiders! Well, this hike could have been called 'Hiking with spiders'... because I have never walked through so many webs I think!

After a long difficult muddy path...

... I reached Bouffémont's cemetery. I don't like French cemeteries, they usually look sad and don't have much greenery. Bouffémont's cemetery was different as it was right by the woods, and with lots of beautiful trees in it too.

I was almost back at my starting point, but the last part of the hike wasn't the less demanding one... my goodness, my knees and ankles are reminding me of this every minute tonight! But it was soooo worth it, a beautiful 3.5 hour-hike!

After some lunch at home I drove to my mother's nursing home to spend time with her this afternoon (aren't vacations just great?!). We had a good, peaceful time in the garden. Thank you all for asking about her lately. She has settled really well into this nursing home, which is like night and day compared to the previous, dreadful one. And look at the view when I am with her in the Alzheimer's Unit little garden (I was told by the director that they would improve the garden by the way, it is a bit bare to say the least!).

At times there are deers coming out of the forest... It is so good to be so close to nature... Now I think I'll remember today's hike each time I am in that garden with my mother and imagine all the wonderful paths behind these trees!

Thank you for reading! Have a fantastic weekend!
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