July 18, 2007

And Paris when it sizzles

Crossing the Pont Alma.JPG

Summertime lunch (pasta, Frascati) with the ParisPal, occasional commenter on these pages, and I carry on about the failures of Velib (see preceding entry) as if it were the end of western civilization. When we pass a Velib "station" near the Arc de Triomphe, I triumphantly demonstrate that American credit cards won't work. Then ParisPal swipes his Amex...the gates of Paradise swing open and a 3-speed bike is released from its stanchion. Blazer and shoulder bag into the bike's basket, and I'm off in the mid-afternoon sun, no helmet (this would never fly in Seattle), down the bone-jarring cobblestones of the Champs Elysées, right at Le Fouquet's, past the George V and the American Cathedral down to the Place de l'Alma and across to the Left Bank, passing directly above the Princess Di crash site.

I can't believe I'm cycling past the Eiffel Tower! Once I'm on the Boulevard St. Germain, there's a dedicated lane shared by bikes, buses and taxis. On TV last night, a "cycle-ologist" showed viewers how to do this: stick to the right and you're fine. Unlike my bicycle demeanor in Seattle, I dutifully stop for traffic lights and don't climb the curbs. An 80-year-old guy gives me the thumbs up. "A bit heavy, but practical," he says. "Bonne visite," says a young Frenchwoman. A hot, 45-minute ride. Bike reattaches to rack near my hotel. ParisPal, I owe you a euro!

Okay, you Fremont Naked Bike Riders: I get it now.

Posted by Ronald Holden at July 18, 2007 7:48 AM

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