Day 62 of the March on Brussels. From St. Denis, 29 km.
Finally we are on the road again. Yesterday late in the evening the assembly decided on the three possible routes that were prepared by the Route commission. Before it began I had already measured the spirits in the group and I was pretty confident that people would decide on route number one.
The shortest of the three routes was the number two, which goes direct over Compiègne, St. Quentin and Valenciennes. A daily average of 21 km. The number one route is the long one, with an average of 26 km per day. Most people prefer it, because it takes us to some very interesting cities like Amiens, Arras and Lille.
The third route didn’t gain any popularity. It would go over Reims. There was even a variant which would include a train trip to Reims, and from there a large manoeuvre through the Ardennes to be able to hit Luxemburg and Namur.
Indeed, the number one route was voted by almost everybody from the Meseta and Toulouse marches. Many slackers from the Mediterranean voted for the short route. In the end, this morning, we decided to go together for the moment. I woke up late, I had to run. Some groups had already left.
According to the latest information gathered by the Intelligence commission, there are five cities in Belgium with permanent Popular Assemblies. These are Brussels, Liège, Namur, Mons and Gent. Note that only one of these cities is Flemish.
Once we arrive in Lille there is the possibility for the march to split in a Flemish branch and a Walloon branch. The Flemish branch would pass by Gent, the Walloon branch would pass by Mons and enter Brussels through Waterloo. We would leave the city of Liège and possibly the city of Namur to be touched by the German march departing from Aachen at the beginning of October. I’ve also heard rumours about a Dutch bicycle march from Amsterdam, which could stir things up in Antwerp.
So yes, we start to focus on Brussels, and we walk again. After a week in Paris, we have to get accustomed to it once more.
The city of Paris itself has its strokes of colour, but in general it’s so bourgeois that you can’t count it as a really vital city. Life begins in the suburbs. The dense multicultural matter of St. Denis slowly gets thinner when you march away from the center of gravity. You pass by town after town of middle class homes and gardens. After that, the spaces become bigger and bigger, as do the houses. The final belt around Paris is one of luxury villa’s on the edge of the forest.
The forest we enter represents a very welcome change. It’s sloping, there are some cornfields in between. The roads are small, and some of them are very old. The one we follow straight through the woods seems to be a Roman one. As I look at the autumn light which filters through the yellow foliage of the trees, I imagine encountering Asterix and Obelix chasing a wild boar, or a platoon of Roman legionnaires.
We arrive at L’Isle Adam, a rich village for the well-to-do family man working in the big city.
Paris has given the march an impulse. We are a large group with many new faces. And even though I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of popular support we found there, I’m content about what we did. I think that as a march we grew stronger after Paris, and if all goes well along the route, we will be even stronger when we get to Brussels.