Two Girls and Two Bikes in the City of Light!

Salut les Bike Commuters! Mir.I.Am is fresh off the jet from France and ready to report on the lovely life on two wheels from the City of Light – Paris.  I just spent several weeks in France (oui, oui, depending on your point of view, cue a “scowl of disgust” or “sigh of extreme jealousy,” dear readers).  Ever since investigating the bike share options in Paris and Bordeaux last year, I’ve been anxious to see Paris from a bike’s eye view.

From the Bike's Eye View in Paris

Two Girls – one with a Backache. My Parisienne friend was incapable of taking the Metro around the city.  Thanks to a chronic back injury, she was on intense medication with doctor’s orders claiming no standing on her feet for more than two minutes at a time. Walking was out of the question and the Velib bikes near her house were always checked out, since she lives on the top of a hill.  Lucky for us, the two bikes in her garage were the perfect option for two girls touring around the City of Light!  We packed up our locks, bags, and water for the road, and set off for a day of errands and sight-seeing rolled into one!

Marion on her B*Twin step through, with my pink bag in the basket.

Two M’s: Marion & Mir.I.Am. Just like Task Force Chicago, we played follow the leader, with Marion as the leader and me the tourist sheep on two wheels.  It’s so stress free to follow a seasoned local bike commuter when you’re brain is in vacation mode, no need to tape maps to handlebars or plan out routes!  A bike commuting tip from Marion: make sure to loop part of your bag over your handlebars if your bag is in the front basket since bags are easily snatched at red lights or while biking through slow traffic in Paris.

My Parisian ride was the silver "Le Super"

An atypical bike commute for me, I was without helmet (don’t judge), blessed with a slow-leaking back tire, riding a single speed (by default due to broken cables), with a busted built-in generator headlight, but hey – Le Super bike was $free.99 with legit street cred.  I mean, look at the thing!  I climbed aboard with enthusiasm and a smile, as we pedaled through Paris running errands with plenty of scenic architecture along the way like the Paris Opera.

Flowers in your back rack!

Everywhere you look, bikes in the street.

Strangely enough, I noticed that bike lanes and routes were often in the opposite direction of traffic on One-Way streets.  We navigated several roundabouts, green painted bike lanes, bike boxes, sandy paths in parks, and construction zones.  The two girls on two bikes snaked through the city, avoid congested boulevards in favor of smaller back alleys.  Marion explained to me that we give right of way to the traffic coming from the right (at least this is what I think she said in French), and that there were several laws we were breaking but she’s never been caught!  Welp, no time to ask questions, so we ride on and do as the locals do.  Off to run our errands: picking up some new duds for me and maybe some bling bling.

First errand - pick up a new outfit for me, just my size!

Off to the next destination!

Second errand, pick up my necklace from the jewelers...

Two hours of Biking = What an appetite! All smiles and a light sweat later, with errands under way… time for a tasty lunch in a car free zone at Rue Montorgueil!  Merci to Marion for taking me to another great local spot.  There were tons of bikes shackled up against the fences, and the pedestrian quarter was short but sweet.  Sunshine, cigarettes, and salad at a tiny table and chairs at an outdoor cafe was exactly what we needed to recharge.  Bon appetit, mes Bike Commuters.

Getting hungry after a few hours of running errands, off to find FOOD!

The best parking spots - for BIKES only in the pedestrian quarter!

Nom, nom. Salad time.

Two Bikes round up the Sites. We ended our day (a total of 6 hours of girly fun bike time) by taking the scenic route home, through Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  In all my visits to Paris, I had never been to this famous cemetary.  We rolled up to the automobile entry and were halted by the lady at the guardshack.  To our surprise, she told us it was interdit to bring bikes into the cemetary!  We expalined to her that we fully intended to walk our bikes through, as it is pretty steep, bumpy with cobble stones, and I was riding Le Super default single-speed.  But, there was no reasoning with the law, she said we would have to lock our velos outside the cemetery and walk around inside without them.  We left the auto entry and turned the corner, where we decided to sneak in via the pedestrian entry and carry our bikes up the staircase.  I went up first with Le Super to check for a guard, so Marion wouldn’t have to carry the B*Twin up the steps if we were going to get caught.  Lucky for us, a group of 30 middle schoolers were at the top of the staircase, creating a perfect diversion for us to sneak past…  Merveilleuses Marion and Mir.I.Am made it into Pere Lachaise!

Well worth the effort of sneaking in with our bikes!

The cemetery is enormous, like a mini-neighborhood

The Bike’s Eye View is the BEST Eye View of  Paris. So touring about Paris from the saddle of a junky old bike, I decided I liked what I saw.  Two girls playing follow the leader on two bikes in the City of Light was the best way to get around Paris in the summer.  Imagine all the things we would’ve missed in the Metro!  Imagine how sweaty we would be if we had to hoof it around the city instead.  It was so fast to get around by bike that it made the big city feel small.  Enjoy your summer, and enjoy your vacation commutes, Cycle Ladies and Gents!

A little Bike Love from France!


  1. Ghost Rider

    What? No photo of the Lizard King’s gravesite? I am deeply disappointed.

    Seriously, what an adventure…I loved Paris and wish I had gotten to travel around it by bike. Alas, I took the “shoe leather express” for much of my journey, and it was slow and sweaty.

    Thanks for sharing all this, Mir!!!

  2. RL

    Wow that’s so cool! I loved the tip about wrapping your bag on the handle bar.

  3. Mir.I.Am

    @Ghost – I know, I know… I am a bad tourist. Hey it took a lot of effort just to take pictures while riding! I’m a clumsy motha, ya know?

    @RL – Good tips from my friend, she is pretty theft conscious.

    I was surprised too about locking up bikes. Lots of “heavy duty” spiral locks, but we never used a U-lock. I did see some pretty terrible lock-up jobs along the way, ones where you could lift the entire bike over a post and it would be yours, or ones where they didn’t thread the spiral lock through ANYTHING!

  4. Dad

    Mir, Happy Independence Day for Americans. Great that you are celebrating this patriotic day with our French allies in WWII. Looks like the way to see the city is to bike in Paris – will have to do that the next time we visit Paris with you as our tour guide and interpretor. Would love to visit the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay again now that I know a little about art. Have fun!

  5. Kim

    @ Dad
    “Mir, Happy Independence Day for Americans. Great that you are celebrating this patriotic day with our French allies in WWII.”

    Hum. I’m not even a citizen of the USA, but I’m disturbed by this statement. First of, Independence Day has nothing to do with WWII. Second, By the time USA joined the 2nd WW, France was occupied by Germany and so not an ally. Your statement should read “Great that you are celebrating this patriotic day with our French allies in the American War of Independence.”

    @ Mir.I.Am
    “I just spent several weeks in France (oui, oui, depending on your point of view, cue a “scowl of disgust” or “sigh of extreme jealousy,” dear readers).”

    Scowl of disgust? Really? Who’s uneducated to the point of being “disgusted” by talking about France on July 4th?

    Have you forgotten that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the USA? It was a gift to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the declaration of independence, commemorating the friendship of the two nations during the American War of Independence. France fought for the USA, and French soldiers died at sea and on land in the name of Liberty.

    Talking about France on July 4th is not disgusting. What’s disgusting is American who are disgusted by the idea of talking about France on July 4th.

  6. Mir.I.Am (Post author)

    @Kim – don’t take comments from my Dad too seriously, he is REALLY old and apparently doesn’t understand comments on blogs. And secondly, the “scowl of disgust” statement was sarcastic… need a sarcastic emoticon for my posts! Obviously I am an American who loves France, hence the post itself. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I had scheduled this post on the 4th of July, it was just next in the queue! Hopefully this will assuage your distress, unless of course you TOO are writing in a sarcastic tone…?

  7. Ghost Rider

    Maybe we should have scheduled this for Bastille Day? Mir, got any more photos you can whip up for then?

    It’s a sad fact that many U.S. folks have a dim view of the French…but not I. Vive la France!!!!

  8. lee

    love your blog darling, the photos, the obvious humor, the passion for bike riding, the history lessons,everything. what a great way to experience france or for that matter anywhere! thanks for sharing this great perspective.

    best to you and your future biking adventures

  9. Dad

    I guess I offended someone with my comments which were primarily meant for my daughter so I do apologize for that. Being a good history student, I am aware that July 4 has nothing to do with WWII although Americans do celebrate both on July 4 as patriotic reminders that France was our ally during our war for independence as well as during WWII. However, if you feel that the US was not an ally of France during WWII, you might want to check the history books again because the definition of the Allies of WWII were the countries that opposed the Axis Powers . The USSR and USA entered the war in 1941 but were still considered allies of France. The fact that France was occupied by Germany at the time is irrelevant as that is not part of the definition of a WWII ally.

  10. Elizabeth

    A friend of mine is vacationing in Paris at the moment…. Ah… sounds wonderful this time of year. (esp with Le Tour winding its way around France now)

    Hmm… ever find out the ‘why’ behind this???
    “Strangely enough, I noticed that bike lanes and routes were often in the opposite direction of traffic on One-Way streets.”

    Folks in Chicago go the wrong way – illegally – on many one-ways…

  11. Nancy

    Thanks for taking us on this ride through Paris. I am looking forward to cycling in Europe one day and enjoyed this preview of what it might be like.

  12. Mir.I.Am (Post author)

    @Elizabeth – Don’t know why the traffic of bikes is often in the opposite flow of the car traffic, I did notice it was on tiny streets, and it was always one way. Maybe it had something to do with the overall bike plan for the city and connectivity. It was definitely a mind-eff and felt all SORTS of wrong! 🙂

  13. Nina Richardson

    Biking around the city. Oh yes I love to try it again. It’s more fun doing it than riding a taxi. Biking in the city and go wherever you want to go is indeed an experience.

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