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Old 06-29-07, 03:40 PM   #1
voileauciel
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Paris, France

Right: I'm a 5th year undergraduate at Rutgers University and I'm studying in Paris for the summer. Now, for those of you who know me, (to some degree or another) I'm a bike addict like most people on here. I can't stand the metro (small, pushing and shoving all so that people can be totally quiet and stare at their {now very scuffy** shoes) nor do I wish to traverse half the bloody city in order to get to class on time.

So, I went, shopped around, looked some more, almost lost my mind and then bought a Batavus Sioux. A lovely bike, very comfortable, stylish, good gears and tyres (though puncture-resistant) that are like glazed donuts. I'm now, for the most part, a happy guy, except for one thing:

THE FRENCH DRIVE LIKE MANIACS!!! You think New Yorkers are bad, or Philadelphians, or Bostonites are murder on wheels? Think again my friend! These people are truly NUCKING-FUTS!!!

I have NEVER, EVER!, in my life, seen things like I have seen here, and often right in front of the local constabulatory!

The details of today alone are so shattering that I dare not recount for fear of losing my senses.

So, dear friends, please use the utmost caution whilst cycling in Paris, should you happen to visit any time before we run out of oil.

Furthermore, I should point out that the French are not at all rude, snobby, obnoxious or pompous in any way: come here, and visit places other than the silly tourist areas and you will find a warm, kind, intelligent, civilised group of people. The only place you will find true, stereotypically French rudeness is in tourist areas, especially if you automatically demand of the person you are dealing with to "Speak English dammit!" Then, well, OF COURSE THEY'LL BE RUDE!!! It's the same thing in NYC, Chicago (followed from time to time by "Dont'cha knoo?") or even in Los Angeles...hehe

Meow...
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Old 06-29-07, 03:52 PM   #2
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Hey,

I grew up in Paris and learned to drive there.
The one most important advice that I got from my father when we where doing the "conduite accompagnee" was that I had to be agressive.
It is a pretty simple rule: be agressive and take your spot.

Well, you can have weight with a car but with a bike good luck.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:58 PM   #3
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Cycling in Paris ROCKS.

My commute was from Place d'Italie to the Eiffel Tower. I loved it. Those bike lanes and bus lanes are great. And I found that the traffic is generally so snarled up that I could keep pace with it and in most cases overtake it. I absolutely loved going through the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe, and barelling down the hill from Montparnasse was a blast. Yes, you do have to get in a kind of "alpha male" mode sometimes. But no man, if I compare Paris and London for cycling there is *no contest*.

Marvellous times, mate, marvellous times. And the road by the river is closed on Sundays. enjoy!

And if you do have the inclination for some mindless entertainment with the Metro system, check out the super-fast people conveyor belt at Montparnasse (works rush hours only). freaky.
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Old 06-29-07, 04:06 PM   #4
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e78990's right. they're like dogs. they smell fear. they eat fear.

They might be maniacs, but they respect you more than any suburbanite escapade-driving soccer mom. Because there you have a right to exist, as long as you fight for it. In american exurbia you as a cyclist just generally don't exist no matter what you do.
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Old 06-29-07, 04:11 PM   #5
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Oh yeah, Paris is especially exciting when you're a pedestrian. Even in NYC when you're j-walking, most motorists will slow down imperceptibly but just enough to allow you to cross the street without sprinting. In Paris, when motorists see you, it's like they speed up and try to hit you. 50 points for each pedestrian run over, 1000 points if it's a tourist! But it's all part of the fun. I do love the city and I've found the people there very nice as well.
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Old 07-01-07, 06:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicodemus
They might be maniacs, but they respect you more than any suburbanite escapade-driving soccer mom. Because there you have a right to exist, as long as you fight for it. In american exurbia you as a cyclist just generally don't exist no matter what you do.
My wife & I spent a 9 days in Paris a few years ago and I noticed the same thing. Take your spot and all is well. What really surprised me was that I heard very few horns. I didn't do any driving or cycling, but it was "interesting" to watch cabbies negotiate the city traffic.

We didn't find any rudeness at all, even in touristy areas, but we weren't dressed like tourists and tried to speak to everyone in our rudimentary French. With only 2 exceptions (a young woman who was enjoying my murdering of her native tongue and an older cab driver who spoke little English) everyone answered back to us in English.

We can't wait to go back.
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Old 07-01-07, 04:58 PM   #7
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I have to agree with Nicodemus now that I've clocked up a hundred miles or so over the past few days here: these people really do respect cyclists, and I think the worst drivers are actually the guys on the scooters. Other than that, the bus, the cabs and the rich-biotches in Ferraris are all very considerate, very easy to co-pedambulate with.

That being said, I NEED to change this bloody tires...low rolling resistance my tooshie, these things have absolutely zero grip!!!
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Old 07-01-07, 10:03 PM   #8
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Thanks for the report. Our honeymoon will be there in 4 months. I'd love to bike there but don't expect to take my MTB with. Are there any places to rent bicycles there? Maybe I'll pick up a folder.
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Old 07-01-07, 10:13 PM   #9
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I spent two weeks in Paris and saw one guy on a bicycle. And I think he was a tourist.


Maybe I was there at the wrong time of year.
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Old 07-01-07, 11:15 PM   #10
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Hey, on driving in Paris, I have to respectfully disagree. Parisian drivers are agressive, but they are not maniacs. There are certain hidden rules of the road to respect on the cobble stone boulevards of the city of lights, and once you understand them the inner workings will become demystified.

First off, I have found that there is much less "road rage" in Paris than anywhere in the USA. People don't get flustered, slighted and red with anger when they get cut off. It is part of the game, a honk will mean chapeau to you good sir! Paris is a busy city. Cars, pedestrians, bikes will come with in inches of each other and things will be fine. The typical american comfort zone is well north of three feet, anything closer, people will be going "what is wrong with this maniac! OMG!"

In France there is one very important rule of the road. It is called "Priorité ŕ Droite". It is very simple: who ever is coming from the right side has the right of way. So in intersections without stop signs, people may seem to dart out with no care for their life or others, but no, they do! They glance quickly to the right and proceeded. Yes there is a method to the madness. In an extension to the rule, the Parisians have a rule of thumb: "Don't hit anything to the right or in front, ignore everything to the left and behind you"

I have driven, biked and even rollerbladed in Paris and I have to say it is one of the most fun sports out there. When the conditions are good and things are not completly halted bumper to bumper, I feel as though I am in an arena with other noble gladiators jostling for position and trying to get ahead. I prefer that to red faced angry commuters in their corinthian leather lined cages that so often occupy the lanes of the USA.

Cheers!

[edit: grammar and spelling]

Last edited by doraemonkey; 07-02-07 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 07-01-07, 11:27 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=dwainedibbly] we weren't dressed like tourists [\QUOTE]

how do tourists dress?
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Old 07-02-07, 12:18 AM   #12
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how do tourists dress?
Shorts, pastel coloured polo shirt, loafers, camera round neck, ill suited sun hat, tourist map in hands, gormless look on face, found in the middle of the busiest pavement/sidewalk, blocking people who actually have somewhere to go. That's what they look like in London, anyway.
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Old 07-02-07, 02:48 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Sammyboy
Shorts, pastel coloured polo shirt, loafers, camera round neck, ill suited sun hat, tourist map in hands, gormless look on face, found in the middle of the busiest pavement/sidewalk, blocking people who actually have somewhere to go. That's what they look like in London, anyway.
Beige cargo shorts and those gawdawful trouser/short combo things are like tourist 'red flags' to me.

What is it with camping/travel clothes and beige?
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Old 07-02-07, 03:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by kmcrawford111
Thanks for the report. Our honeymoon will be there in 4 months. I'd love to bike there but don't expect to take my MTB with. Are there any places to rent bicycles there? Maybe I'll pick up a folder.
Hey, apparently Paris is installing automatic rent-a-bikes called velib through out the city. I had the chance to test out the rent-a-bikes in Lyon, and inspite of the number of abused bikes, the system was a really great way to see the town. You buy a card, and then bike use is free for the first 1/2 hour and 1 euro for each hour afterwards. Swap bikes in the parking stations, and you can pedal free the whole day.
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Old 07-02-07, 06:38 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Nicodemus
those gawdawful trouser/short combo things are like tourist 'red flags' to me.
That makes me a tourist in my own town.
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Old 07-02-07, 07:15 AM   #16
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Uhhhh, "Dontcha knooo" is not at all what people in chicago say, you probably ran into a tourist Candadian, Wisconsonite, or Minn-e-soat-an
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Old 07-02-07, 10:53 AM   #17
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And that godawful fanny-pack!

Sorry if I offended any Chicagoans: I lived north of there when I was in the Navy and must have met Minnesotans/Wisconsonites...

I'm starting to get the whole "Priorité ŕ droite" system down. It actually makes sense!! The only qualm I still have are the machismo dudes on the scooters....they scare the Heineken outta' me!

But yah, another good day in the city today. Will be going out later if only for the pleasure of riding along the Seine, La Tour Eiffel glistening like, well...anything you wish...hehe.

meow
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Old 07-02-07, 11:53 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voileauciel
Right: <SNIP>
THE FRENCH DRIVE LIKE MANIACS!!! You think New Yorkers are bad, or Philadelphians, or Bostonites are murder on wheels? Think again my friend! These people are truly NUCKING-FUTS!!!
<SNIP>
Furthermore, I should point out that the French are not at all rude, snobby, obnoxious or pompous in any way: come here, and visit places other than the silly tourist areas and you will find a warm, kind, intelligent, civilised group of people. <SNIP>
Meow...
I have to agree that the Parisian drivers are crazier than any American city I have driven in, but what is scarry is that they would seem almost normal if compared to drivers in Italy, especially Rome. At least once you get outside the center of Paris most drivers are predictable and reasonably normal. On Italy outside of Rome they still pass on 2 lane roads doing 60+ MPH with oncoming traffic (meaning the cars have to move to the shoulder to allow the passing car to straddle the middle of the road). I saw that kind of crazy behaviour regularly in Italy. You won't see that anywhere else in Europe. The carriest thing of all is that I was in a Fiat Panda. I would be barely better protected on my bicycle!

I also agree that I have never yet found the Parisians to be nasty. As with most cities, if you are a lost tourist you have to scope out who you will ask for help. If they look busy and in a hurry don't bother them. I you catch someone clearly not in a hurry you just have to ask nicely and with a friendly smile. A few works of French can also go a long way to show a little respect. Like knowing how to say "excuse me, but my French is terrible do you by chance speak any English"? If you can say that in French to someone they are much more likely to respond nicely. I can't wait till I have saved anough money to take my wife an daughter to Paris.

As a funny side story I was riding from the Northern Subrub of Amerst in Buffalo to Deleware park in the heart of the city of Buffalo. I could take a nice bike path that follows the Erie canal, and then the Niagara river. I knew approximately where I needed to change directions to pick up the path that takes toward the park. The problem is that is happens in one of the worst parts of the city. I don't mind it in daylight, but in the dark it would not be helpfull. There was a sigh, but it lacked any detail or instructions. I just knew I was within a few hundered yards of the other path. I saw a female cyclist stopped by the side of the road. So I figured I'd ask nicely for directions. She points to her ears and grunts something. Turns out I am asking directions from a Deaf and Mute person... it almost seemed like a scene out of a bad comedy skit. I gave a friendly smile and move along. Next were some older teens that looked busy so I didn't bother them, but then I spotted some 12 year olds, one friend riding on the back of hit buddy's BMX bike. Once they stopped I asked and they nicely walked around the corner with me to show the way. The trail was so well marked that I barely could tell where it started and I was directly accross the street from it! A friendly request is usually met with a Friendly response.

Happy riding,
André
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Old 07-02-07, 12:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwainedibbly
how do tourists dress?
Sneakers and/or Tevas.

American tourists wear sneakers. French men, women and children wear shoes or sandals, usually elegant ones.

Oh, and clutching a water bottle is a dead giveaway too.
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Old 07-02-07, 12:19 PM   #20
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[quote=EMT]
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Originally Posted by dwainedibbly
we weren't dressed like tourists [\QUOTE]

how do tourists dress?
zip off leg pants, tennis shoes, backpack, baseball hats, college sweatshirts, prof sports paraphernalia...and they travel in herds of mostly 3 & up.
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Old 07-02-07, 02:24 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voileauciel
And that godawful fanny-pack!

Sorry if I offended any Chicagoans: I lived north of there when I was in the Navy and must have met Minnesotans/Wisconsonites...

I'm starting to get the whole "Priorité ŕ droite" system down. It actually makes sense!! The only qualm I still have are the machismo dudes on the scooters....they scare the Heineken outta' me!

But yah, another good day in the city today. Will be going out later if only for the pleasure of riding along the Seine, La Tour Eiffel glistening like, well...anything you wish...hehe.

meow
oh here, I forgot - you'll like this. If you happen do be picnicking on the Champs de Mars at the Eiffel Tower (a recommended evening out with a lovely young lady) - when the lights go on, fuzz your vision (you know, make it out of focus) and watch the lights.
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Did you just say "minarchist?" I'm going to start a 10-page vaginathon because only Libertarians can define Libertarianism. Also, you're mean.
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Old 07-02-07, 02:27 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrelam
I have to agree that the Parisian drivers are crazier than any American city I have driven in, but what is scarry is that they would seem almost normal if compared to drivers in Italy, especially Rome.
Oh yeah man. Holy ****. I mean, just... wow, holy **** those Italians
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Old 07-03-07, 04:00 PM   #23
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Just curious. Why do Americans so often say, Paris France? Is it to avoid confusing it with Paris, Texas, county seat of Lamar County, population about 25000?

And has anyone ever confused the two?
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Old 07-03-07, 04:14 PM   #24
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I don't know why you have to specify that Paris is in France. But here is a funny one: about a month ago there was a nude critical mass demonstration in gai Paris! www.cyclonudiste.fr Just don't click on the video at work kids.

Gives new meaning to the saying "I see Paris, I see France...."
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Old 07-05-07, 11:09 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by atbman
Just curious. Why do Americans so often say, Paris France? Is it to avoid confusing it with Paris, Texas, county seat of Lamar County, population about 25000?

And has anyone ever confused the two?
I think it's because in America, "Paris" now mostly means "Paris Hilton." Unfortunate, yes.
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