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We bought bikes here in Amsterdam! On the ride home it promptly poured on us, soaking me through. I like to think of it as our christening ride. Because I have no pictures yet and it’s still raining hard, I’ll take this opportunity to tell you about our Parisian bike adventure instead.

Some cities are best explored by bike. In fact I think most cites are, other than LA. Paris is definitely in the “best” category, with excellent bike lanes, good weather, ladies in fantastic style, and a system of rent-able bikes on every corner. Why not try it out?

We used the Velib bikes as an alternative to paying for Metro tickets, and found that we could easily get places within the 30-minutes-for-free time limit. The system was a breeze to use, and there are stations at practically every corner. US residents should note that unless your credit/debit card has a chip in it (most of ours don’t), you’ll have to go online to buy a pass before your ride. They simply give you a passcode to enter at any station, easy as pie.

The thrill of experiencing the city whooshing by was one of the best parts of our visit, in my opinion. Paris uses protected bike lanes on most busy streets so you don’t have to worry about cars, although the occasional taxi and bus will share your lane.  We plotted out our route ahead of time to make for less map-checking stops.

Here you can see the bike itself–not the most stylish thing, but since everyone rides them, locals included, you really don’t stand out. We rode along the Seine past Notre Dame Cathedral and through tree lined boulevards with people sipping espresso in tiny cafes. I got the lovely feeling where I know people can’t tell if I’m a tourist or not. I looked, and felt, like I belonged.

Notre Dame, on a different day

This would have been such a perfect picture, if not for my dumb face! I’m sure I was telling Jesse something really important like “There’s a bus about to crush you,” or, “I’m getting hungry.” Too bad I had to sacrifice an amazing picture for it.

And for the best of Parisian bike style, check out this video. Can you catch the penny farthing in there? The website is mostly in French, but as far as I can tell it’s a bike ride in Paris, celebrating Paris. I think Jesse and I might have to head back for the Rendez-vous 2012!

http://www.beret-baguette.com/

I’m so excited to explore Amsterdam on bike now! I’ve been watching other stylish ladies pedal past, and they look so good. I’m determined to be one of them. I’ll have to practice holding an umbrella and riding, too–how are they so good at that?

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