Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Monday 05/10

On the bike today it quite a heavy downpour this morning. But all is not well. The front dereailer is constantly refusing to move the chain although I had it professionally adjusted at the weekend. I think all the bumps and holes in the road are taking their toll on my fine machine.
I'm using the bike less and less as I am finding it less reliable and therefore not as much fun.
Could be time to invest in more of a 'hybrid' or 'urban' type machine...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Thursday 24/09

Proof today that public transport is often not my quickest commuting option. 10 minute wait for a very crowded train at Noisy le Sec (yes, a train was mysteriously cancelled – perhaps they figured it wasn’t required at 7.30 am).
Then all hell at St. Lazare, for reasons I’m not sure about. I managed to get a train going out towards Argenteuil (line J, I believe) then walked from Asnières.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Monday 21/09

Well some real action at last! Having experienced a flat-free run of well over 2 years, I finally had a rear wheel puncture on the way home on Friday.

Fortunately I was not on a very busy stretch of road at the time and it was not hard to get to a safe, quiet place for the repair.

It didn”t take me long to find a tiny shard of glass embedded in the tyre.

Back up and running within 20 minutes.

I used to panic quite a bit when these incidents happen, but now I sort of enjoy it as I know that I have the tools and know-how to fix the problem!

With fine late summer weather promised for much of this week I will try and keep on the bike as much as possible. Nice ride in this morning, although the congestion was just ridiculous in places, notably at the n. end of the Pont de Clichy. It took me at least 6 minutes to turn left on exiting the bridge as the bus and car drivers consider it bad form to let bicycles (or even pedestrians) through the gridlock they create.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Friday 18/09/2009

I've settled in to a routine of cycling in 2 or 3 times a week, which is not too bad. Have already had to dig out the lights as they are needed in the morning now.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Wednesday 09/09

So did I take the 09: 09 train on 09/09/09?
Well actually no. Managed to avoid public transport altogether this morning by catching my neighbour on his way to work at Levallois. Walked into the office from there.
Fortunately the temperatures have dropped somewhat so the RER won't be quite as unpleasant this evening as it was earlier in the week

Tuesday 08/09

Thought that the cycling shorts had been put away until next year, but they were needed today with temperatures going up to the high 20s

Monday 07/09

Not a bad commute today, all things told, by public transport

Friday, 4 September 2009

Friday 04/09

Well I just about escaped the rain yesterday eve, but it caught up with me this morning as I was walking to and from the station. Got thoroughly soaked in fact. Just about every symbol on the weather chart today except snow so expect another drenching on the way home.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Thursday 03/09

A rain-free ride in, but it looks like I'm in for a bit of a shower this evening. The weather forecast is becoming frustratingly unreliable.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Wednesday 02/09

About the only upside of travelling on public transport is that you bump into colleagues (the ones that you're happy to bump into that is) That is what happened to me this morning, so train ride and walk in seemed to go much quicker than normal. Fortunately as it is a wednesday, the public transport network was not quite as busy as on the other weekdays.

Tuesday 01/09

Nothing if not eventful this morning.
RER E as far as Magenta where, for entirely mysterious reasons, it's journey terminated. As at least 2/3 of the passnegers seemed to be waiting for the next one to come along to take them to Haussmann (and bearing in mind that this train would already be pretty full) I immediatly went to street level and took a Velib down to St. Lazare.
I took a direct train to Asnieres - the one that heads towards Bois-Colombes afterwards - and changed on to the line that goes to Bécon. All was going well until the heavens opened just after I'd left the station of Les Vallées to walk in. There was no point even trying to remain dry (I didn't have an umbrella or raincoat anyway). But was glad of full set of dry clothes waiting for me in my locker at work.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Monday 31/08

Last day of August,but the good weather is holding out. Lovely ride in this morning despite the continuing nuisance of the tram route construction.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Friday 28/08

Probably the most enjoyable journey type this morning. Pleasant chat and traffic free ride with my neighbour (who picks me up from literally my front gate) to Levallois, followed by brisk walk over the Pont de Levallois and into Bois Colombes.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Thursday 27/08

Public transport today as I need to conserve some energy for a tennis match this evening. The trains are still half empty, but all the commuting Parisians will be back next week.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wednesday 26/08

Cooler today, but still a lovely morning for a ride in.

A word about the construction work in progress to build the T3 tram route around Paris

While this may (or may not) be a good idea, the work is being carried out with no regard whatsoever for the urban cyclist. Minimal or incorrect roadsigns, cycle lanes which are no longer accessible or usable, cycle tracks which end in a set of stairs ! ridiculous diverted routes..these are just some of the nuisances we have to put up with for the tram rider of tomorrow.

And finally an article from the Parisian which dispels some of the myths about cycling and safety.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Tuesday 25/08

just about beat the rain yesterday evening, but was not brave enough to take my chances with the weather this morning. First day back on public transport less depressing than usual as many Parisians are still away. Hope to be back on the bike tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Monday 24/08

Yes, dear readers, I'm back.

Can't commute when you're not working so this blog has been on hold for the past 4 weeks.
Had a pleasant ride in this morning on the still empty roads of greater Paris. Hoping to avoid the storms which are forecast for this afternoon. Pleased to report that both the bike and the body are functioning well.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Friday 24/07

Hmm. Looks like the previous post here was precisely 65 days ago, so some explanations are called for.

In a nutshell. I was experiencing severe pain down my right leg which was diagnosed as sciatica caused by a herniated lumbar disc. This made cycling hard and walking harder. In fact for around a month I could do neither without considerable pain.
I struggled into work as best I could – generally by hobbling around on public transport.

I suspended entries to this blog fearing that it would become a medical update blog, which was never the intention.

I have my last session of physiotherapy this evening and, for the past month or so, have been pain free. Either the treatment (rest/NSAIDs and physiotherapy) has worked or it is time performing its best trick.

Anyway, this week, as last, I have cycled in twice, suffered the vagaries of the public transport system on the other days and resolve to keep these pages better informed in the future.

4 weeks of holiday as from today. Back 24/08.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Monday 18/05

Cycled in on a cool but bright morning, despite being somewhat below par physically due to an unwelcome bout of sciatica. Funnily enough, cycling is a good deal easier than public transport as body weight is supported.

THe forecast is good for the next few days, but will have to listen to what my GP has to say about the situation..

Friday, 15 May 2009

Friday 15/05

It has been a bit of a bleak week all round in commuting terms. showers and storms have ruled out the road bike as a realistic possibility and the overground train services out of St. Lazare have been running as usual, i.e. badly.

For some variation, I have been experimenting with a novel route which, after just 2 days, I have now perfected.

I can get a lift to Porte de Champeret (I would never drive in that kind of traffic myself other than in an emergency). From there, it is now possible to cross Levallois by Vélib, which I did this morning. ONce at the Levallois side of the bridge it is only around a 20 minute walk to the office.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Monday 11/05

Was contemplating cycling in this morning...until I looked out of a window.
LIght rain, with showers promised in the forecast over the next few days.
I may try cycling anyway tomorrow (with waterproofs) as I do not intend to commute in for a full week on the public transport network.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Wednesday 06/05

Back on public transport (which was plagued by shortened trains, delays and cancelled trains) this morning following 2 days on the bike.

Yesterday was an interesting one..there was some kind of gas leak which prevented any vehicles or even pedestrians from moving eastwards towards la Villete/Pantin.

Took a good 20 minutes to negotiate an alternative route

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Tuesday 28/04

april showers this week so doesn't look like there will be many cycling opportunities. Journey greatly improved this morning by bumping into a colleague and fellow sports enthusiast (very serious mid-long distance runner) at St Lazare.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Monday 20/04

light mornings and spring weather make for very pleasant cycling conditions.
also the bike felt particularly good this morning as I went for a little spin round Paris by Velib yesterday. They really are tanks, those things!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Friday 17/04

2 days out of 4 on the bike this week, which is not too bad.

Near disaster yesterday when the automatic door of the car park at work refused to open and had to be prised open manually. But aside from that, no difficulties to report.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Friday 10/04

Just the two days on the bike this week, yesterday and today with a combination of rain and late nights playing music forcing me to use public transport at the beginning of the week.
Now that the temperatures are higher and the days are longer, cycling is once again a real pleasure.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Monday 06/04

Took the train in this morning (although I really should have cycled).
For some strange reason the RER was shortened. Great for those who like crowds, but not so good for the rest of us.

Friday 03/04

Well completed 3 days out of 5 this week on the bike, but must confess I was tired by the end of the week.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Monday 30/03

Made a nice change to cycle in this morning despite the very low temperature. Nothing much to report other than a bus (PC line) which cut straight in front of me and then pulled up at a bus stop bringing me to an abrupt and forced stop. Lucky I was watching it because the driver clearly hadn't seen me.

Hope to ride in most days this week as the forecast seems to be set fair.

Friday 27/03

Uneventful commuting by public transport today

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Thursday 26/03

Pleasant enough cycle in this morning, but looks like rain for the ride back home.

Speaking of which I shall have to find an alternative route as the building work (I guess for the new tram line) along the Boulevard Ney is making this section somewhat hazardous.
Total journey time = 60 minutes

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Wednesday 25/03

MOre rain this morning, so cycling once again ruled out. However I was lucky enough to bump into my neighbour just as I was leaving the house this morning.
We were caught in quite heavy traffic through Levallois and then I got copiously rained on walking across the POnt de Levallois and into work. But this was still better than the RER/Train alternative!
Total journey time = 75 minutes

Tuesday 24/03

The Spring may be here according to the calendar, but the weather has other ideas. Grey, cold and damp this morning so I'm condemned to public transport.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Friday 20/03

Well this has been a good week on the commuting front with just one day on public transport. No time to appreciate the scenery this morning as I had to arrive in time to shower and dress for a 9.30 meeting.
Total journey time = 55 minutes

Thursday 19/03

Forced by the horrendous roadworks on Bd Ney to find an alternative route home. My preferred solution is the 'long way round' which takes in Asnières/Genevilliers/Ile St. Denis/up past Stade de France into Aubervilliers/Bobigny and home. It takes a good 10 minutes longer than the Parisian route, but there is slightly less traffic.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wednesday 18/03

Great ride in this morning on a cold but cloudless day.
Let's have a look at the latest forecasts of the impact of tomorrow's strike.

Tuesday 17/03

Uneventful travel on this St. Patrick's day courtesy of the SNCF and RER networks.
Interestingly, the Paris metro has declared to the news media that service will be normal tomorrow, Thursday, the day of the strike action. So none of the metro train drivers use the SNCF lines that are affected by the strike to get to work then?

Monday, 16 March 2009

Monday 16/03

Lovely bright morning, so thoroughly enjoyed my ride in.

Looks set pretty fair for this week, so I hope to be rebalancing mys journey stats in favour of the two-wheeled solution.

Total journey time = 60 minutes

Interesting article in the latest edition of the Paris cyclists' association (MDB) pointing out that cycling is a lot less dangerous than it is made out to be. The point is you have to measure the accident rate against something, and whatever you choose, whether it is the number of journeys, the total journey time of the distances covered, cycling is actually a lot safer than other forms of transport. This is because the total number of journeys is so huge.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Thursday 12/03

LIght rain spoilt what would otherwise have been a pleasant ride in this morning. As if I didn't have enough to do at the weekend, a good clean of the bike must now be added to the list.
Total journey time = 60 minutes
Looks like I picked the right day to avoid the public transport network, though:

Réseau RER - Bulletin trafic en temps réel RER E SNCF :
En raison d'un problème d'alimentation électrique, le trafic est perturbé sur la ligne E du RER. La circulation des trains est reportée en gare de Paris Est sur les axes : - Haussmann-Chelles Gournay, - Haussmann-Tournan. Le service est interrompu entre Haussmann St-Lazare et Magenta, dans les deux sens. Trafic normal sur les autres lignes RER.

It's amazing what the RATP and SNCF have to deal with in fact. Quite apart from football supporters using electrified and operating railway lines as pedestrian shortcuts, there was a gun fight in Paris yesterday morning and a suicide at Noisy le Sec yesterday afternoon. Details here.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Wednesday 11/03

Easy journey in on public transport (often the case on a Wednesday) but should be on the bike tomorrow.
Glad to say that RER Haussmann station has now been cleaned up.

Total journey time = 55 minutes

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Tuesday 10/03

No mishaps worse than a thorough drenching while walking from the station to the office this morning.
Total journey time = 55 minutes

Monday, 9 March 2009

Monday 09/03

Another very minor injury prompted me to not to cycle in this morning. Pleased to report that the public transport network was working well and was not too crowded (recession impact already?)
Total journey time - 55 minutes

At least we have a national transport strike to look forward to on 19/03!!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Thursday 05/03

Now that's more like it.
A chilly cycle in this morning (it was a nice round 0° when I left), but in daylight now.
Total journey time = 60 minutes

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Wednesday 04/03

all ready to take to the road this morning....unitl I saw the weather!
Heavy rain with plenty more forecast later in the day.
2009 looks like being the leasy cycle-friendly year I have had.

Tuesday 03/03

While the RER and train networks are running pretty well on time, the rubbish and filth at St. Lazare are becoming a real nuisance. How hard can it be to settle this industrial dispute?

Monday, 2 March 2009

Monday 02/03

I'm back at work after a short break, which means back on the public transport system for the moment as I tweaked a calf muscle playing tennis (hence no cycling for today at least).

While the trains were running more or less on time, the cleaners' strike affecting Saint Lazare station is becoming a serious nuisance.

with the weather improving and the days getting longer, the sooner I'm back on two wheels, the better..

Total journey time = 55 minutes

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Thursday 19/02

It may be the school holidays, but something is definitely not quite right with RER line E. The 8.35 was packed as it arrived at Noisy le Sec. I cunningly waited a further 4 minutes for the 8.39, which was pretty well empty.

At St. Lazare I narrowly missed two trains heading for Bécon, but was able to 'catch up' the slow train by my favourite trick of taking the fast train (line J) to Asnieres and changing platform.
Total journey time = 70 minutes

Wednesday 18/02

A bit of variation this morning as the RER E line appeared to be experiencing some difficulties. I was on a crowded train, unusual in itself in what is the school holiday period, which had an extended wait at Magenta station. Fearing the worst, I jumped off, took a velib down to St Lazare and continued my journey without any further problems.
Total journey time = 60 minutes

Monday, 16 February 2009

Monday 16/02

After Friday's excitement, an uneventful journey in this morning on public transport.
Total journey time = 55 minutes

Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday 13/02

What's that date just above? Friday the 13th?!
Now that’s more like it. It’s journeys like this that make this blog worthwhile.

Arrived at Noisy RER to see plenty of would-be passenges milling around, weighing up their options, while the notice boards above advised simply that no trains were running in either direction. A fire near a station further down the line was, apparently, the cause.

Figuring that there was no point in hanging around as it would take several trains to clear the backlog of passengers. So my journey (another original) was:
- walk in a mixture of snow and freezing rain (did I mention that the temperature was a nice round zero) down to the ‘Pont de Bondy’
- Bus, route 147, to Pantin
- Metro, line 7, to Jaures
- Metro, line 2, to Villiers (*)
- Metro, line 3, to Pont de Levallois
- Bus, route 275, to Bécon
- walk in similar mixture of snow and freezing rain as above to office
total journey time = a mere 140 minutes

(*) I could, at this point, have taken my chances at St Lazare but figured that the suburban train services were bound to be disrupted by the bad weather.

Thursday 12/02

Cold but trouble-free cycling today. Almost certainly the only day in the week when cycling was an option. Whatever happened to global warming?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Wednesday 11/02

uneventful and surprisingly quick train journey in this morning, but I regret not cycling - the weather is cold but bright now.Should be on 2 wheels tomorrow
Total journey time = 55 minutes

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Tuesday 10/02

IT does not look like 2009 is going to be the Year of the Bicycle. More rain and very strong winds are ruling out cycling this week. The trains were suffering the effects of the weather too, with plenty of impatient would-be passengers milling around St. Lazare watching the train-less platforms. I eventually got on a direct train to Bécon.
Total journey time = 60 minutes

Monday, 9 February 2009

Monday 09/02

With severe storms forecast in the afternoon, I was not tempted to cycle in today.
The journey by public transport was remarkably swift and pain free, but will it be the same this evening with all that weather about?
Total journey time = 55 minutes

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Thursday 05/02

More fun and games this morning on the trains out of Saint Lazare. Not much traffic appeared to be flowing in either direction. I finished up getting a fast train to La Defense and then walking back to the office.
Total journey time = 85 minutes

It appears that some sort of strike action is to blame. NOw there's a surprise....

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Wednesday 04/02

Having given the bike a thorough clean and check up on Sunday (well, by my standards anyway) I was keen to give it a try out.
NIce smooth ride in, the only problem being frozen toes for most of the way. I'm still not 100% happy with my front derailer, which has now been adjusted by at least 3 technicians. It doesn't snap back from the large chain ring to the middle (a common fault, so I am told) but it is very reluctant to place the chain on the large chain ring in the first place. The 'error' away from an ideal positioning of the chain is probably in milimetres, but it's very annoying not to have it just right.

Tuesday 03/02

Two rather quick and uneventful journeys by public transport today, as it was still too icy and damp to cycle

Monday 02/02

I was expecting the worst this morning as a thick layer of snow was covering just about everything. In fact, the journey was less eventful than I feared - RER E to Haussmann St Lazare and then a direct train to La Defense.
I was actually rather hoping that the train would stop at Bécon (I boarded it too late to see where it was going) but it didn't.

In fact, the walk back from La Défense to the office is not long at all - around 25 minutes, but it must be more pleasant when there is no snow and ice.
Total journey time = 75 minutes

No problems on the return trip, although all sorts of dire warnings had been issued about delays and cancellations due to the extreme weather.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Friday 30/01

A smooth cycle home yesterday in the rather less than chaotic atmosphere of the national strike.
Then this morning, by the time I begun my outward journey (around 9 am) everything seemed to be working again. I even got one of those unusual non-stopping trains that go straight from Paris St Lazare to Bécon, before going on to St Cloud.
Total journey time quick = around 50 minutes

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Wednesday 28/01

Two relatively trouble free journeys on public transport today, although I couldn't get on a train to Bécon (pleasant enough walk from BOis Colombes, though)

I expected the worse on the evening commute home in view of tomorrow's national strike, but everything seemed to be working normally.

Thursday 29/01

This seems to be turning into my lucky week, transport wise.
no rain (but sub-zero temperatures) for this national strike day - perhaps a more treasured institution in my adopted country even than bank holidays.

As is often the case in such circumstances, it was eerily quiet and orderly out there, with no more traffic than usual. I enjoyed a smooth ride in with only my fingers and toes complaining of the cold.
Total journey time = 60 minutes

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tuesday 27/01

Event-free cycle home yesterday, although my front derailer is still playing up. I may have to have it refitted, which is quite a job.

With rain forecast this afternoon I was back on the public transport network this morning. The trains seemed to be running pretty well on time (very quick total journey time of just 55 minutes), but there must have been a quite spectacular systems failure somewhere as none of the notice boards was functioning, on either RER R or the suburban train platforms. Unless of course this was just a coincidence.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Monday 26/01

Aside from the usual hazards (wet roads, vans parked in cycle lanes, buses blocking the street as they turn, pedestrians running for buses, buses pulling out sharply to avoid said would-be passengers..) a nice smooth ride in.
Tota journey time: 60 minutes

Have learnt that the train chaos on Fri was caused by the presence of a passenger on the line and several others carrying out a rescue operation.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Fri 23/01

hmmm two extremes today.

very quick journey in this morning (well 55 minutes), the only obstacle being driving rain on the walk in to the office.

But quite the opposite this evening. For some reason I did not investigate there were no trains at all from Bécon to St. Lazare. This gave me the opportunity to try out yet another route. It took 90 minutes in all, but much of that was in a crowded metro train, so its not an option I am all that keen on. Anyway, for the record it was:
- walk to Pont de Levallois Metro
- line 3 to VIlliers
- line 2 to La CHapelle
- lengthy walk to cut through to RER E at Magenta and then back to Noisy le Sec

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Thursday 22/01

Don't want this Blog to develop into too much of a weather report, but it was pouring down this morning - so no bike for a while.
The industrial action is now over at Saint Lazare but the services in the morning still seem to be disrupted by something or other. Perhaps its just sheer weight of passenger numbers.
Total journey time = 70 minutes

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Wednesday 21/01

Well despite the late finish at the studio last night and the low temperatures (although not by recent standards) this morning, I did return to my preferred means of transport.

I enjoyed a trouble-free ride in, even managing to complete the last 2 or 3 km in something vaguely resembling daylight.

Total journey time: 65 minutes (this is counting the time it takes to pile on the multiple layers of clothing - just the 5, actually- before setting out).

Techies corner: I’m having difficulty with my front derailer which does not want the chain to latch on to the large chain ring. I would tinker around with it myself, but this is just as likely to make matters worse as better. Looks like another stop at Decathlon is in the pipeline.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Tuesday 20/01

Good for me, but dull for the blog.
2 very smooth public transport journeys to report, with just one little train cancellation yesterday evening from Bécon to Paris Saint Lazare.

This morning, I left a little earlier to avoid the crowds and even managed to board a train from St. Lazare to Bécon, for the first time in ages.

Total journey time = 55 minutes

Showers are threatened for this afternoon, but I hope to be back on the bike tomorrow.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Monday 19/01

Well getting my chain fixed proved to be easier than I anticipated. A walk/scoot with the wounded bike to the 4 Temps shopping centre at La Defense, where the Go Sport branch has a well-equipped and well-staffed bike workshop.
I don’t imagine this facility is overused either as it is pretty well impossible to cycle into the sector, and walking a bike through a pedestrian shopping centre with escalators etc. is quite a deterrent.
So after 10 minutes, the careful attention of 3 technicians – each one apparently more senior and competent than the last – and for the princely sum of five euros I was back on the road.
I’m fairly certain that my local cycle association, the venerable MDB does not mention Go Sport’s repair and service centre on its web site. It should.

Since then, I have bought myself a chain tool and have determined that one of the things I will do in 2009 is learn how to use it. All is explained apparently – plus everything else to do with bikes – herein.

Not a bad journey in this morning. 8.43 from Noisy RER (line E - Eole), then the 8.02 (which was more like the 8. 07 by the time it actually left) from St Lazare to Bois Colombes and then a walk in to the office.
Total journey time = 60 minutes
I didn’t even check if there were trains running to Bécon and how many hundreds of passengers were waiting. To be honest, I’m quite happy with the walk, as it is, in any case, my aim to walk an hour a day.
Unfortunately, looks like more of the same the rest of the week as scattered showers (rares averses), much beloved by Meteo France are forecast for the next few days.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Thursday 15/01

What is becoming a bad week continues.

Had thoroughly enjoyable ride in, despite the cold, right up until my arrival here at the office. Around 10 metres from the entrance, my chain broke. I carry spare inner tubes, but not chain links and tools. In any case I do not have the skills necessary to repair anything on the drive mechanism.

Total journey time = 60 minutes, but it will be a struggle to find a repairer for the chain this lunchtime.

Wednesday 14/01

Bit of a tale of woe this morning. I had got prepared for a bike ride in, but was greeted by a heavy shower of rain on opening the front door. Plan B then went into action, but this did not go much better. I hurriedly changed just in time to catch my neighbour who drives to nearby Levallois. Only, no sign of him this morning, for some reason.
Plan C was a different lift (from another kind neighbour – I bet you all want to live in my street) into Paris, 10th . From here it was a velib ride (in light but persistent rain) to St. Lazare which, so the radio informed us, was now working normally.

Needless to say it wasn’t, and I could only get on a train going to Bois Colombes, which meant another damp walk into the office.
Total journey time = best part of 2 hours.

Return almost trouble-free, apart from a signposting failure on the RER E network. This is worse than it sounds, as there are 4 platforms to choose from and if you don’t know when and where the trains are going you must take a chance on either 31/33 or 32/34. In the end, I waited no more than 10 minutes for the train to leave.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Tuesday 13/01

Now that’s more like it!

All was going well this morning until I got to St. Lazare.

I should point out that the RER E service into Haussmann from Noisy le Sec is really pretty good in the morning, most of the time.

At St. Lazare, to quote one of the SNCF passenger relation staff officers, it was a “Festival”. Not of happy commuters sharing a drink and a quick smile before being whisked off to their offices, but of empty departure boards and very full platforms.
Apparently, a public transport worker had been attacked the night before and all the morning passengers were being made to pay for this reprehensible action.
We were led to believe – although I didn’t check – that it was not only the overground SNCF trains that were affected but also the RER A line.

In any case, I had never seen so many hapless would be passengers staring vacantly up at a blank departures board.

I tried my usual trick in such cases of taking the less frequented and more comfortable train out to Bois Colombes, not a particularly long walk from the office, but one you would probably not choose to undertake on a rainy morning. All was going well with the platform board on 12 announcing that the train would be leaving at 8.12. To make matters even better, the train was virtually empty so I settled down for the ride.

Only problem was, at 8.32 we hadn’t moved. It’s one thing to run a completely shambolic service, but misinforming the public is pure malice. Either the controllers simply do not know which train is likely to go where from which platform, or they do know but they prefer to feed false information to the passengers. I don’t know which is worse – the first probably as this also suggests something of a safety risk as well.

Anyway to cut a long story long, I then waited on a slow train bound ultimately for La Defense for a further 10 minutes. This one went nowhere but filled up impressively. I eventually scrambled on to a train which did leave and arrived 8 minutes later at Bois Colombes, so I did get my damp walk in to the office after all.

The original plan, with temperatures now soaring well above 0°, was to return to the bike, but this was thwarted by persistent rain. (not the occasional showers threatened by Meteo France, but the real stuff). In the early weeks of 2009, the weather has not exactly been my ally in my daily quest to cross the Ile de France.

Total journey time = 100 minutes

Even by Parisian standards, this was disruption on an exceptional scale. We had been warned in the morning that transport workers felt aggrieved about one of their own being physically attacked the previous evening, but it was nonetheless something of a surprise when sudden and total industrial action was called leading to the closure of St. Lazare station.

Commuters were left entirely to their own devices and with almost no notice.

For my part, the return journey was not much longer and a good deal more agreeable than usual. A colleague kindly offered me a lift to Paris (Porte de Champeret), where I easily found a velib bike.

25 minutes later I was at Gare du Nord and in another 15 minutes I was home.

I still fail to see how penalising the great mass of the traveling public (most of whom are commuting to work) can be considered an appropriate response to the attack. I guess you have to be a French trade unionist to get your head round that one.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Monday 12/01

Aha, so it looks like our troubles are far from over:

Read this...

Having said that, not a bad journey in this morning, as I was able to find a train leaving for Bois Colombes as soon as I got to St. Lazare. Got slightly lost negotiating the various bridges and tunnels to get here to the office though and the 20 minute walk actually took 30.
The good news is that the ice is now disappearing so I hope to be back on the bike this week. That should liven up this blog, if nothing else!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Friday 09/01

Surprisingly trouble-free journey in, which was just as well as I had to leave home somewhat later than usual. Journey time of around 50 minutes which just goes to show how much time I lose when it takes an hour and a half!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Thursday 08/01

Following a smooth albeit cold journey home yesterday eve, a surprisingly trouble-free RER ride into Haussmann station this morning. But then once again, there were crowds and cancelled trains waiting for me at St. Lazare (that last bit doesn’t sound quite right)

Finished up spending a stressful quarter of an hour watching the train I was sitting on fill up. But it never actually left the station. In any case, it had got way too crowded for me with office workers desperate to get to the towers at La Defense. After a mere 10 minutes I found another train which was bound for Bécon.
Total journey time: back down to 70 minutes.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Wednesday 07/01

I don’t want this to become a weather blog but I feel duty bound to report that the temperature at the moment is not only sub-zero but sub -5. According to reliable sources – a colleague I bumped into on reaching the office – the local temperature here this morning sunk as low as -11°.

OK back to the commuting. Again, a trouble-free return journey by public transport yesterday evening so perhaps the industrial action is finally petering out.

Different story this morning however. I got to Noisy le Sec RER at around 7.45, but the next scheduled train to Paris was not until 8.02. This implies the cancellation of at least 2 trains so something was clearly not right.
To avoid a 15 minute wait in Arctic conditions and to give myself some slim hope of actually getting to work, I took an RER train going the wrong way – out of Paris. This may seem counter-intuitive, but believe me it is the best tactic in such situations. At the ‘hub’ station of Val de Fontenay, and after a 10 minute wait, I was able to get a fast train going back into Paris – and past the still crowded platforms of the stations on the way in.
The alternative would have been less productive as I know from experience that I would never have been able to get on the ‘slow’ 8.02 train at Noisy and quite probably the one after that too.
Amazingly, and for the first time in weeks, I actually caught a train from St. Lazare to Bécon although it left late, was packed and crawled along for most of the way.
Total journey time = 90 minutes.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Tuesday 06/01

Surprisingly trouble free return commute yesterday eve, but fun and games again this morning.
RER E train stuck at Noisy le Sec for 10 minutes (this was actually good news for me as it enabled me to catch it) and then the usual scene of crowded platforms at St. Lazare. I have learnt that most of the problems are in fact caused by indutrial action, although it is said that the service should be returning to normal later this week.

As usual, I took the first train out to Bois Colombes and walked gingerly to the office on a mixture of snow, ice and semi-frozen sludge.
Total journey time: 70 minutes.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Monday 05/01

OK, so new year's resolution is to write every day in this blog - even if its just a couple of words to say how I completed the journey.
Well for the first day back at work after an extended break there was a light dusting of snow and sub-zero temperatures to contend with. Cycling ruled out then, so I was at the mercy of the public transport network.
Finished up completing the journey in a creditable 75 minutes, but this did mean taking a train out from St. Lazare to Bois-Colombes, rather than to Bécon.
As usual the scene at St. L was of hundreds of would-be commuters gazing hopefully up at the departures board for a train heading out on the lines towards Cergy or La Defense.
In such cases I now head immediately for platforms 9-12 where you can pretty well always find a train going out to Bois Colombes. The walk to the office is longer (around 20 minutes compared to 10 from Bécon) but the greater comfort and regularity of this service far outweigh this drawback.
Not sure if the problems at St. L are due to technical factors, industrial action or a combination of the two. Let's see what the SNCF itself has to say about it...

hmmm ..this is worrying. According to the transilien's problem alert web site, ABCDtrain, everything is hunky dory on the lines in question.
Looks like I'll be wearing out quite a few pairs of work shoes then...