EPISODE 12: Our guests for this week are two entrepreneurs who know Paris very well indeed: Paul and Christian from Bike About Tours. They also run a cool coffee shop in the Marais, just off the river Seine, called Le Peloton Cafe.
Listen here as they share the ten best streets to see on two wheels:
And scroll down to see their tips.
1. Rue Saint Honoré, 1st arrondissement
It starts super chic down by the Champs-Elysées and Place de la Concorde, includes loads of top-class shops and people-watching, and gets slowly less chic as you get to the centre of town.
It’s their shop that provides the French president with his daily bread.
2. Boulevard des Invalides, 7th arrondissement
Just getting to the street makes for a great ride, as you pass by the Grand and Petit Palais and across the Alexandre III bridge.
But then you turn left at Invalides and pass the Rodin Museum, and if you stand up on your pedals as you go past you can see the Thinker’s butt. It’s right there in the garden, just look through the hedges.
Everyone’s heard of this famous statue, and now you can see his butt crack for free.
3. Avenue de Breuteuil,7th arrondissement
Not far away is the Avenue de Breteuil. When you cycle down it you can turn back and all of a sudden see the Invalides in all its glory with Napoleon’s tomb.
And it’s a great place for a picnic that’s less touristy than the nearby Champ de Mars.
4. Rue de Belleville, 20th arrondissement
Getting up there is a mission, but it’s worth it when you turn around and go down again.
The hill is super steep, so you get an awesome view of the city. Just stand up on the bike pedals, lean back slightly, and whizz down. You’ve got shops and people down both sides of the roads.
5. Rue Vielle de Temple, 4th arrondissement
This is a great road – and to cycle it you should start up the top by the Cirque d’Hiver (pictured below, right). Then work your way down past all the trendy designers shops, fashion spots, and cool cafés.
The best part is when you get to the bottom you can carry on to Le Peloton Café.
6. Champs-Elysées, 8th arrondissement
When you think of cycling in Paris, you think of the Champs-Elysées. It’s such an iconic street, and it’s where the Tour de France finishes. When you’re cycling down the cobblestones, you’re surrounded by limousines, taxis, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis.
One day a year, on the Sunday that the Tour de France finishes to Paris, we take customers along it. That’s the only time we do it, the only time it’s calm enough.
7. Quai Saint Bernard, 5th arrondissement
The place to go is called the Open Air Museum of Modern Sculptures and the best way to experience it is to cross the Pont d’Austerlitz then ride directly down onto the the Left Bank. It’s just off the Quai Saint Bernard (pictured above). If you’re lucky, you get the whole quai to yourselves.
And you can see people dancing in the enclaves in the summer, doing everything from tango and salsa to rock and roll. It’s another great place to have a picnic.
8. Rue du Bac, 7th arrondissement
This is in a chic part of town, with big boulevards, cafes, and plenty of sights and sounds. And there’s a church where you can see an incorruptible nun – a saint’s body that hasn’t decomposed (the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at number 140).
The story goes that this nun was visited by the Virgin Mary in 1830. 100 years after she died, her body was unearthed smelling of roses – her body hadn’t decomposed. And you can see her there. It’s the second most-visited monument in Paris.
A view of Rue du Bac from above. Photo: Roman Boed/WikiCommons
9. Boulevard de Magenta, 9th, 10th arrondissement
This is a busy road, but interesting because it was one of the very first completed bike lanes in Paris. You’d think it’d be awesome, but it’s the most chaotic bike lane you’ll ever go down.
You’re truly experiencing Paris, with distracted pedestrians, taxis, trucks – all just right there on the bike lane, even though it’s physically separated from the road. This is a road for the more experienced riders. If you head down hill, you get to the Place de la République at the end which is always nice.
See the bike lines at the sides of this tree-lined boulevard. Photo: Coyau/WikiCommons
10. Ride through the Louvre in the evening, 1starrondissement
I’ve been here 16 years and I still get a kick out of riding at the Louvre at night when there’s no one there, You have the whole square and the pyramid to yourself, and it’s all lit up – it’s beautiful, magic, and peaceful.
They close the doors at 10pm, and if you time it right, get there for when the sun sets behind the pyramid at around 9.20pm in the summer. The perfect place to propose to someone.
Photo: Max Pixel
Bonus vid: The Thinker’s butt, as recommended by Paul.