A bicycle in Paris: originally published 16 June 2005

(written when I lived in Paris, 2005)

Last week I had zero bikes, now I have two! This is a great story.

I’ve been combing the for-sale ads since my first week here, looking for a good, cheap city bicycle. Much like everyone else in Paris, apparently. There were tons of ads from people looking exactly what I wanted: “good city bike wanted, under 100 Euros, asap.” I didn’t even bother to post an ad – for every 20 ads saying someone WANTED a cheap bike, there was one ad actually advertising a not-so-cheap-bike. The cheapest I could find was 120 Euro. Bleh. Until yesterday, when expatriates.com saved the day once again! Someone posted an ad for a woman’s bike, 50 Euros. I called immediately, and made arrangements to meet the woman (A) today at noon.

A. only lived a few metro stops away from me, or a 20-30 minute walk. Excellent! She’s a really nice grad student originally from upstate New York (Ithica) who is living in Paris for a few more weeks and then moving to Philly in a month. That’s a lot like me, except I’m just going to Philly for a visit. We had so much in common, I gave her lots of Philly advice (she’s never been there) and told her I’d look her up in August, when I’m back. She was relieved to hear that Philly is a good biking city. She’s into photography (me too!) and has her nose pierced (me too!) and is writing a thesis on prostitution (me too! oh, right, that’s not me).

Her bike is perfect. See, the bike that I had been borrowing is really too small for me to ride safely. I could ride it slowly around the park, but that’s about it – I felt nervous that I might damage it. The girl who lent it to me is about 6 inches (10cm) shorter. My new bike feels wonderful; it’s big and sturdy and has a basket and luggage rack. It’s a 3-gear road bike, which is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden but it’s perfect for Paris. The thick tires take the city streets well, the brakes and bell work, and there’s even a “One Less Car!” bumper sticker on the front-wheel fender. I’m in love with this bike, and I can’t believe I found it for 50 Euros.

I did already have a funny mishap. When I was close to home, I stopped for a baguette at the bakery where the guy is always flirty with me. I practiced my French for a bit, and then put the baguette in my bike basket and started to ride home. I was riding along, thinking about how damn cute I felt to be riding a bike ol’ road bike through Paris with a baguette sticking out of the front basket, when the bread flew out of the basket and tumbled down the road. Oh well. I stopped to go pick it up, and went to a different bakery for another baguette. And then I pushed the bike the rest of the way home.

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