This Saturday, Scotty signed us up for Vélib. After two days of using it, I love biking around Paris. We discovered a coffee shop that actually serves good coffee, La Caféotheque, rode up to Pretemps to enjoy the rooftop views (thank you Chernoffs for the recommendation), and enjoyed the freedom that comes from having access to a bike. The vélib system is fantastic. For €29 per year, you get unlimited access to 20,000 bicycles parked around the city. You’re allowed 30 minutes free of charge and we’ve found that that basically allows you to get to pretty much any destination you would want to bike to. It is a bit scary and it takes some getting used to riding in Paris traffic but there are lots of designated bike lanes and that makes it easier.
While biking up to Pretemps I was just riding along when someone began to pull their bike into my lane. I rang my bell and gave the man a stare. As I whizzed by, I suddenly thought he looked familiar. And then I spotted his big Canon camera and it clicked. It was The Sartorialist! It was kinda cool to spot him heading off to photograph a show at the Paris Fashion Week.
We made our way to Pretemps, the famous department store, and were soon enjoying the amazing rooftop views.
The weather has been amazing and on Saturday it was actually hot. We didn’t last very long on the rooftop and were soon biking again. Everyone in Paris seems to be trying to soak up this heatwave. The banks for the Seine are packed with groups of people picnicking, sharing a bottle of wine, or just strolling. And everyone here talks. It’s funny because I had gotten used to the quieter nature of the Scottish and English. Here it seems like everyone has something to say – people sit by the water for hours on end, until the wee hours of the morning just talking. Everyone walking by is chatting. This is a sociable country!
On Sunday we visited The American Church in Paris. Despite the fact that it has an unfortunate name, we really enjoyed it. The congregation is pretty big and very diverse and I have to say that it’s a bit of a relief to be in a place where comprehending each word is not a struggle. Biking there is easy and the route along the Seine is beautiful.
Sunday afternoon took us and our bikes to a new area of town where we checked out the Cup Cake Camp. While I know that cup cakes are a bit passé in America, the French are still quite enthusiastic – apparently they haven’t yet been introduced to cup cakes’ replacement, the Whoopi Pie. Anyhow, this was a showcase of cup cakes made by Parisian and American bakers and it was fun to stroll through and check out the different designs. We resisted the temptations at hand so I can’t tell you how anything tasted, but here’s some photos.
After two days of enjoying the Vélib, I can report that it is great. The only weaknesses that I can tell are finding spots to return your bikes on a busy day. We ended up looking for an empty depot for about 30 minutes on Saturday. It can also be difficult to find available bikes – sometimes the only ones left are those with flat tires. Aside from that, it is great and I’m excited about getting to know more of Paris via vélo. If it all proves too much, Paris did just launch Autolib today! It’s billed as the world’s first auto-sharing club. Very interesting.