Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cycling Europe 2016 : Paris Cycling The Seine River

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker -Europe 2016 / Cycling Europe/Cycling FranceParis Cycling The Seine River
                                                       AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                                    
Paris Cycling The Seine River
Amsterdam, Netherlands : 11th September 2016
Cycling Distance: 13.39 km.     |     Level: Easy
Time : 10:00 am - 2:20 pm
Time Taken : 4hrs. 20 mins. (including stops at various points of interest, coffee break at the Latin Quarter, photo-ops, regrouping & rest).

Route Recommendations :
1. Ride Conditions
    - Paris traffic is left-hand drive. For those coming from right-hand drive countries always do remember to ride on the right-hand side... i.e. Right is right! Same thing applies when crossing the rode, take note that traffic is approaching from left! Sounds confusing, it actually isn't, just take while to get use to it.
    - The route is fairly flat, and riding in summer is great as there is no need for thick clothing.
    -  At some of the main roads are cycling lanes to ride along.
2. Points of Interest:
    - Notre Dame (GPS: 48.85296, 2.3499).
    - Alley of Justice (GPS: 48.85491, 2.35605)
    - Place des Vosges (GPS: 48.85561, 2.36552).
    - Seine River View Point (GPS: 48.85104, 2.35281).
    - Latin Quarter (GPS: 48.85373, 2.33764)
    - Louvre (GPS: 48.86101, 2.33585)
    - The quirky street art left by Banksy.
3. This is a guided cycling tour with the Bike About Tours - Parisian Day Bike Tour. The charge for this tour is 28€, payable on booking or at the start of the tour.


Whenever I am on holidays with non-cycling friends, I try to take some time off from them to do some cycling. This time round we were touring Western Europe, and I managed to squeeze time for some of-the-beaten-track cycling in London a few days earlier. Now we are in Paris, and my cycling legs are calling out to me again, to explore a bit of Paris on a bicycle.
With just half a day to spare, I decided to join a cycling tour. I ended up with to Bike About Tours, cycling around the inner city area with a short stretch along the Seine.


The route starts from the Notre Dame and goes around the narrow streets of this Paris localities of St. Germaine and Le Marais to the Louvre with a short stretch along the Seine.

The meet up point was Charlemagne statue at the grounds of the Notre Dame. The right fore leg of his horse is lifted, which for medieval statues means he died of injuries sustained in battle (see more meaning of horses raised legs).
But my itchy cycling legs would had to wait while a while, we don't start cycling from here. We took a short walk to the basement parking of the nearby Indigo Lobau-Rivoli. Here the bikes for the tour group are stored; we selected bikes to suit our heights and I chose one with a basket, hoping to buy some French stuff along the way.
Off we went, cycling a very short distance to our first destination .....

... which was a tree! Eh.... is this right, a tree?
But this is no ordinary tree, dating from the twelfth century, it is the oldest tree in Paris. It is called the Whispering Tree because locals come and whisper their troubles to a slit in the tree, hoping that it hears them and would help resolve their difficulties. After centuries of listening to these whispers, the tree must have some tales to tell but it will keep all it was told a guarded secret. So go whispering away with now worries of your wife or girlfriend finding out.
By the way, on the right is Bianca our cycling tour guide.

Next was the Alley of Justice; here we made a longer stop. On the walls of the alley were black marble slabs with names inscribed on them. This is a memorial to the French Jews who were deported (and never to return) by the Germans during World War 2. The list is in chronological order, starting from the earliest victims.

At some of the side lanes, the roads are paved with cobble stones, fortunately these are flat stones which are not too difficult to cycle on.

If our first destination, a tree was odd; the third was odder still - it's a ball!
The building above is the Hôtel de Sens. During the French Revolution, a canon ball hit one of its gable wall and was lodge into it. It is now preserved as memorial of the revolution, with the date it "united" with the wall inscribed onto the wall.
(... read more about this)

Our cycling route was not only through narrow alleys, but also through narrow corridors leading into shared residential courtyards, one of which led to ...

... one of Banksy wall graffiti - a Lego-style orange Pac-man made to look like an orange bloom. Banksy is an England-based graffiti artist; his distinct style street art are often satirical with an underlying message.

After viewing some history and art, the Place des Vosges was a calming difference -  a father taking her little daughter for a walk while pigeons flew around in this oldest planned park of the city.

Although most of the route was on the quieter lanes and alleys, we did ride on the main roads where there were safe cycling lanes ...

... and across bridges. This one was the across the Bassin de l'Arsenal canal...

... which had a beautiful view of boats moored on it's calm waters. Hmmm... the canal-side looks interesting, would we be riding down there?

We did even better. Further on, it was down a ramp that led to the riverside of the Seine!

Away from the maddening traffic and commercial activities, here it was a relaxed pace. At a spot, near where the river flowed around the Ile de la Cite, we stopped for a grand view of the Notre Dame.

Another great view of the Notre Dame ... okay, okay ... this is a view of Bianca's legs AND no, I am no dirty old man. Although she had pretty legs, I was more interested in the tattoo on her legs; it had something to do with the circles of life and below it were some Sanskrit inscription.

At the roof edge of a nearby building, another Pac-man graffiti by Banksy.

At another corner, some Tai Chi exercises.

Back up at street level, a quartet playing a nice song setting the mood for Paris the City of Love.

We were into the Latin Quarter now, more wall graffiti murals. This one is of a stylised Star Wars Storm Trooper, a compound painting made up of smaller paintings.

And a cheeky one of a facial testicles with leering eyes looking down at the street below.... any pretty sweet young thing passing by?

Their are several smaller graffiti with moral or political tones. I got into the artsy mood and added one of my "AhPek Biker Was Here!" sticker onto it. Should you see this when there, post a photo of it on the AhPek Biker Facebook page and I will treat you to a cuppa!

The music provided by the quartet has resounded through the area, couples could be seen in romantic moods. This loving couple was seen in front of a shop called Amorino - Amor is Italian for love and Amorino stand for Cupid.

Another couple, sits lovingly at one of the cafe having their breakfast and slowly sipping coffee watching the crowd walk by.

Me? I was without my better half (who had gone shopping while I cycled) and had to content with sipping coffee El-alone inside the L 'Atlas cafe.

Back on the road, my lonely self was distracted by this statue of a pretty lady promoting sales in front of a DvD and music CD shop. Ok.... Ok.... better keep my eyes on the road.

Another Banksy graffiti, one of a Lego yellow star-fish.

As we cycled down this road, a group of roller-bladers skated passed us, one of them cheekily hung on to the bike of a lady, having her drag him along. She didn't seem to mind, after all he was a handsome fella.

Further down along the same road, another Banksy - this one of a different design, one of a baby dragon made up from small tiles.

As we approached the Louvre via the Pont du Carrousel bridge, there seemed to be an air of gaiety here. Some sort of festival was going on and participants were dressed brightly, in the mood for a carnival! Wouldn't be surprised if some of them broke into a samba dance.

We entered the Louvre through the smaller entrance to the Place du Carrousel, its narrow opening giving us a glimpse of the huge compound and buildings ahead.

Instead of cutting straight across, we swung left looping through the gardens here. Here too, love is in the air and a couple slowly danced romantically, oblivious to the world around... Hey! It this is Paris the City of Love, after all!

Proudly riding pass the Louvre Pyramid.
We stopped here for a while, to take in the sights of the grand building, the contrastingly modern but impressive pyramid. Short of time, we did not enter the majestic building, so had to give Mona Lisa a miss.

As we rode through Le Marias locality, more Banksy.
Hah! It was like a Pokemon Go hunt, not for monsters but for those cute Lego Pac-man!

One final one, but not of a Lego Pac-man, but of the Green Monster from Sesame Street.

Our last destination, The Centre Pompidou. This hi-tech looking building houses the Public Information Library and the largest modern art museum in Europe.
We ended our tour at the basement and took a short walk to Le Peloton Café which is also the "office" of Bike About Tours.


Cheers! To a short but interesting and informative ride!

(For more photos of the ride, click here)

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