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Olivier Schneider’s Krakow

By Olivier Razemon

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Posted on June 01, 2021 at 6:00 p.m., updated yesterday at 5:15 p.m.

It is the largest medieval square in Europe, all the more captivating as it houses prestigious monuments: “The Sainte-Marie basilica and its two square and asymmetrical towers, the belfry, vestige of a town hall demolished in the XIXe century and, in the center of the pedestrian square, the Renaissance-style drapery hall. “ Olivier Schneider can describe, with his eyes closed, the Rynek, the central square in Krakow, where he stays every summer. The atmosphere is also sound: “From the top of the basilica, since the Middle Ages, a musician has been playing a bugle tune every hour towards the four cardinal points. Day and night, all year round, we know we are in Krakow. “

President of the Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) which brings together 430 local associations, Olivier Schneider is the tireless representative of the “Bike lobby”, as he says himself. Whether he tries to convince parliamentarians, that he honors the requests of the media, or that he writes, in the middle of the night, notes intended for the ministerial cabinets, the activist repeats, without the slightest sign of weariness, the list of multiples benefits of cycling.

Olivier Schneider, in Krakow, in 2017.

That day, between a meeting with Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, and a meeting in the office of sports minister, Roxana Maracineanu, he paused his hectic day to talk about Krakow. “With my wife, who is of Polish origin, this is our favorite city. As soon as we can, we spend some time there ”, he says.

The city is for him a refuge, a madeleine. As a child, he believed, like all students educated in Poland, in the legend of the dragon lurking in the Smocza Jama cave, at the foot of Wawel, the castle where Polish kings resided until the 16th century.e century. Memories flow in. “The mountaineers, on market days, came down from the villages of the Tatra Mountains to sell sheepskins, slippers, wooden carvings and then theoscypek, a smoked sheep cheese decorated with abstract patterns. They had an accent that you couldn’t hear elsewhere ”, he recalls.

Born in Levallois-Perret (Hauts-de-Seine) to a French father and a Polish mother, Olivier Schneider spent part of his childhood in Wroclaw, where his father served as cultural attaché. “In Krakow there is the consulate, the passport service, the expatriate polling station. We went there often. Whenever I could, I rented a bike to go for a walk in town ”, remembers the president of the FUB today.

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