Saturday, April 2, 2011

Paris cycling

While we've followed the growth of Velib here over our past three visits (and noted its influence in several other cities which have since adopted similar systems), we have not yet felt motivated or brave enough to contend with Paris traffic except with two feet solidly on the ground. Plus we're not sure we're up to the sartorial standards of Parisian cyclists. This is just a small, random sampling, but you'll see how very urban they all look. Men in suits, especially (although we're even more impressed by the London commuters who hop off the train and quickly unfold their bikes to pedal away into the terrifying London traffic, briefcases and all, their bikes even at full size resembling a teen's trick bike more than a commuter's cruiser.


In the photo above, check out a restrained version of a noticeable trend in men's dressing -- the coloured pant, generally in an otherwise classic/conservative outfit. But not always . . .
 We're seeing this look over and over, with the pants in red, gold, purple, and green -- most often a rugged denim, but even the older gents shake up their thick cords with colour. Pater's resisting, so far, but I like the look in most of its incarnations.
You'll have to click on these photos to check out my claim that these women (especially the one just by the tree, above) are stylish cyclists, but even at a glance I think you get the idea.
Despite the stylish attire, they pedal quite vigorously, not relying on a motor as in this 1913 Peugeot we spotted in the Peugeot dealership window on our walk to the Bois de Boulogne.  The ensuing war stopped this model from the success it was just beginning to enjoy -- I was struck by how early we had something that we're beginning to see more and more of lately, especially with gas prices rising quickly -- back to the future!
With all this inspiration around us, we finally decided to rent bikes to ride around the Bois de Boulogne (having already walked an hour to get there -- enough walking already!). More on the charms of that park later . . . but meanwhile, let me introduce our sturdy steeds -- only 3 gears but not too heavy (the Velib bikes are pretty solid! These velos, rented by a private company, were not as lourds, and they have a handy basket for carrying a purse or picnic -- AND, big plus for someone who arrived in a dress (not Pater) they don't have that top bar one has to swing a leg over.


Hope you enjoyed cycling Paris with me -- I've so many more Parisian outings and observations to share with you, but it's been very busy lately (museums, GF shopping days, dinners with friends) and I get home too tired to write much. Yesterday the weather was sunny and 24 degrees!! Luckily, I'd bought a dress anticipating some heat and it was perfect for enjoying the sunshine (and yes, Pater took some pics)
Today the high is expected to be 14, and it's raining -- a perfect day to sit inside our Paris apartment and read with, perhaps, a foray out to Ladurée for tea and macarons later.

What about you? How's your Sunday shaping up?

14 comments:

  1. I am really enjoying your posts from Paris. Thank you for letting us all share your trip!

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  2. Excellent pictures, Mater! The Bois looks so lovely in that early spring green. I'm always in awe of cyclists in Paris, especially with that traffic! Are there more bike lanes now?

    I'm so impressed with your travel posts. You capture the most interesting details. Are just the men wearing the colored denim or the women too?

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  3. I must admit I wouldn't be too keen on cycling through Paris traffic either - the Bois is a very good compromise!

    Very busy weekend here - yesterday we set up for our school's international festival - Canada Booth for pancakes and maple syrup, plus troubleshooting for the other country booths, which I've been helping to organize since last November. Today was the festival and I think it was a success - very busy, we sold out as did many other food booths. Tomorrow I get to go in and help count the money!! P.

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  4. Oh, the biking looks like such FUN! I bought a nice cruiser bike last year but sadly it got stolen out of our garage. My DH had absentmindedly left the door open. I am putting a bike ride thru the park on my list for Paris and Amsterdam. Don't think I would brave the city streets. Am noticing lots of jeans on the women.

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  5. Your days are so full of exciting and active pursuits it does amaze me that you have the energy to keep us all informed !
    I am loving these posts from Paris.

    The bicycles and fashion conscious women seem foreign to me...just as difficult imagining 4 inch heeled gals clipping quickly on cobblestones as they hastily make their way to work or to shop...I suppose that is the true Parisian...fashion above all else.

    Coloured denim orange jeans...I wonder if pater will indulge!

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  6. Your photos are such a treat!

    It's good to know you're having so much fun and getting some exercise too.

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  7. Le Duc rents a bike; I nag him to wears a helmet but as you see, they are simply not part of the package! he also wears coral cords. I prefer the pace of walking so for us it is "meet you there"! What fabulous weather; the friend in Paris I spoke to today said she had dinner on a patio, comfortably, at midnight.

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  8. Having these bicycles will no doubt expand your horizons in Paris. Do you rent them by the day, the hour, the week? And how did it feel to cycle in a dress?

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  9. I am quite desperate to try the Boris Bikes, but terrified of the lorry's which do kill far to regularly. I cycled to and from work for many years before children so will pluck up courage no doubt soon enough. Like Paris there are some very stylish cyclists, research has proven that a young girl with flowing blonde hair stands a greater chance of survival than an older helmeted lady, so I'm off to buy a wig!!

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  10. Couture Allure: You're welcome -- and thanks for following my travels.
    Pseu: There do seem to be more bike lanes -- in fact, as pedestrians one needs to pay attention to bikes!
    as for the coloured jeans on women, I have seen some, but it's not as pronounced a trend, to me at least, as on the men. Perhaps that will change with the season.
    Hostess: I surprise myself sometimes, I have to say, as we have been very busy -- posting is an effort, but then I'm so pleased to have a record of our travels and it's great to hear from readers, as you know.

    Patricia: You sound like a very efficient treasure of a fund-raiser!
    Marguerite: Oh, so sorry about your bike -- my daughter had hers stolen recently as well.
    You've got an observant eye -- the women here definitely favour jeans -- almost a uniform, always smartly accessorized.
    Hostess:

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  11. Susan: thank you, we're having such a good time.
    Duchesse: I'll admit that I prefer to ride without a helmet (illegal at home, although I get away with it on my daily dirt-road commute to the ferry) -- I wonder if cycling would be so popular here if those haircuts had to be scrunched into helmets! And yes, the weather has been incredible -- we walked home about 1 from dinner at a friend's and I could have carried my jacket rather than worn it.
    Terri: We will probably confine our cycling to the occasional outing in the park, but Velib bikes can be rented by the hour -- one subscribes to the system, then is charged a v. reasonable cost on an hourly rate -- but the young man who introduced us to our apt. pointed out a trick -- since there's no charge for the first half hour, he often rides for 20 minutes, finds a station to park the bike, then chooses another, so he bikes for free!
    As for biking in a dress, as long as there's no top bar, I'm quite used to it -- I bike like this at home regularly, and can manage easily in heels as well (More easily than on foot, actually)
    Alison: Cycling in London somehow terrifies me even more than in Paris -- and Pater and I are continually amazed at the suits with briefcases on their fold-up commuter bikes -- but hmmm, I'm thinking I'd prefer wearing the blonde wig to the helmet, thanks for the tip ;-)

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  12. Looks like you are having a wonderful trip. I'm curious about how you found your the apartment you are renting. Did you use an agency? We are beginning the planning for an extended stay in Europe sometime in the next year and the apartment idea sounds like the way to go.

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  13. Reading your accounts of this wonderful trip is a challenge at times, since each one makes my heart ache to be there . . . how perfectly you evoke my memories. Merci.

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  14. Gwoman: We used an agency recommended by duchesse (Passage des perles) and so far it's been great: Parisaddress.com
    Happy Planning!
    Marsha: The city exerts quite a tug, doesn't it? You must have some lovely memories of it.

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