“What’s it like to ride in Paris?”
This is a question that gets asked regularly, both by those interested in cycling and also by those that just think it’s nuts to ride a bike in a big city.
It’s actually a hard question to answer, because there’s no easy answer. It’s difficult. It’s wonderful. It’s often a hot mess. It’s rewarding. It’s big city biking after all.
But there’s nothing better than exploring a city on two wheels, and if you’re up for the challenge of riding in Paris, you won’t regret it. Plus, the more people riding, the better. That’s how we make change.
This week I’ve got a guide to cycling in the City of Light over on HiP Paris.
Despite all the romantic pictures you’ve seen of ladies in flowing skirts with flowers and baguettes in their quaint bike baskets, cycling in Paris isn’t always beautiful. It’s often fast, dirty and sometimes a bit harrowing. But it’s also rewarding. Because when the sunlight hits the buildings just right and you get into the flow of navigating a tight Parisian street on two wheels, life feels really good.
Paris is a city of winding streets and grand boulevards; cars, buses, and pedestrians that don’t pay attention; and recklessly antsy scooter riders, ready to dodge a vehicle whenever the opportunity presents itself. Stop paying attention for a few minutes and you can get yourself into a lot of trouble.
This is not to deter you from cycling. On the contrary, I want you to embrace cycling in Paris – the more cyclists the better – but it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into. An added benefit of mastering vélo riding in Paris is that because it’s not always an easy city to ride in, you’ll feel especially accomplished once you learn to make your way through the network of streets and bike lanes. You will definitely deserve that glass of Sancerre when you saddle up to the wine bar later in the evening.
Read the full article here.
I’ve got thoughts about Paris and our notion of “home” in a new essay over on Medium. I have been meaning to write this essay for quite some time, and happy that it found a place in The Archipelago collection.
In the beginning, you feel high just from being in Paris. At dusk, the light hits the buildings just so. You find a bakery that makes the best almond croissants in the world. Nothing can get you down. But then eventually the downs do come, and they hit you hard, like a bucket of cold water in the face. Your bank meeting that was supposed to take ten minutes takes two hours. A taxi almost hits you while you’re riding your bike in the bike lane and you’re the one who gets yelled at. It rains. It gets gray. You try to go for a run and get hit on — “courage mademoiselle.” You spend far too much time arguing in French to get something accomplished that you didn’t even want in the first place. A certain dreariness sets in that you can’t seem to shake.
Like Bogart in Casablanca, I try to tell myself “I’ll always have Paris” — not the real city, with its homicidal cars and persistent men, but the memory, the good stuff. Eventually the daily frustrations will fade, and in ten years it will be easy to gloss over the frustration and be one of those people that casually throws “that time I lived in Paris” into conversation. It wasn’t just a ten-day trip, or a month abroad, I’ll tell people. No, I actually went and lived there. Wrote there. Ran there. Drove there. Called it home for a while. Even in the darkest moments, there’s something comforting about that thought. I’ll always have Paris.
In the meantime, because of my adopted city’s magical reputation, I don’t get to complain. “The apartment is tiny, I’m starting to feel claustrophobic.” “Yeah, but Anna, you’re in PARIS.” As if, once enough poems are written about a city, it becomes impossible to be sad there.
It felt good to write this piece. The editor challenged me to call it “Is Paris Any Good or Not?” but if anything it’s less about Paris and more about thinking what “home” means, and maybe even, where “home” is.
You can read the full essay here.
Normally I write about food, bikes, or coffee. Or some combination of the three. But if there’s one thing that ties my writing together, it’s that I believe that we have to think differently about how we live. I want to get people to think about their daily behaviors, and hopefully, start challenging cultural norms and expectations.
One thing that clearly falls into that category is fashion, and while I am not a fashion writer, I am intrigued by the clear link between consumption and what we wear. There’s no denying that as a culture, we’re obsessed with shopping. But why? I got to explore that question in a piece titled “Breaking the Addictive Culture of Fashion Consumption” which was published this week.
Consider this: in 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. That wasn’t a minimalist wardrobe; it was simply a wardrobe. Nowadays however, we’re far from that. The average American woman owns 19 pairs of shoes alone, and as Americans, we spend about $1,700 on apparel every year. We’re taking up space with things we never wear, and we’re paying to do it.
So why do we consume? That’s the ongoing question of psychologists and marketing professionals. It comes down to one thing: emotion.
“Necessities to sustain life and have basic comforts are physiologically driven. With very few exceptions, our society exists above this level. For most of us, it is the interaction of emotion with psychological motivation that is responsible for our behavior as consumers. These emotions range from simple pursuit of pleasure to more complex emotions like security, contentment, and (life) satisfaction,” says Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D, principal of a consumer psychology practice in New York City.
Are we addicted to fashion? I’d say yes. But there’s something we can do about it. Focus on experiences instead. Analyze why we’re consuming. Think about what really makes us happy. Because ultimately, the most valuable possessions that we have, aren’t possessions at all.
You can read the full article here.
Yes, yes and yes.
Love this piece my friends at Duct Tape Then Beer did for Arc’teryx. What keeps you running?
“What’s in like to run in Paris?” friends sometimes ask.
Paris is one of those places that has a certain reputation. It has an identity that’s known around the world. But like with anything, there’s an identity that we see from the outside and the one we see from the inside.
When you live in a place you come to know that inner identity. You live the everyday things that no one ever talks about outside of that place, and that’s particularly true when it comes to Paris. Because who would be silly enough to criticize Paris?
Last summer my friend Boaz invited me to come and be on his talk show.
But this wasn’t just any talk show. No, Boaz created the Pedal Powered Talk Show, essentially, a talk show on wheels. Boaz takes around his cargo bike, sets up shop in all kinds of places, and interviews all kinds of interesting types. So I was honored when he asked me to be a part.
The night in question, the Pedal Powered Talk Show was a part of a live event put on with NW Documentary. I was there to talk about my book, The Culinary Cyclist, and Boaz asked if I would be willing to make a smoothie on stage.
Anyone out there ever made a smoothie on stage? No, I didn’t think so. It’s not really what you usually get asked to do. But I said yes.
This of course entailed me bringing my own blender, which I diligently packed up in my backpack before riding over to the event. Backpack filled with kale and a blender. That’s true Culinary Cyclist style.
Fortunately, the Pedal Powered Talk Show team got the entire thing on camera and is now available for your viewing pleasure.
It should also be noted that immediately after filming the intro to this episode, Boaz got into a bike crash. Thankfully, he and his awesome cargo bike survived just fine. Maybe it had something to do with his super-powered green smoothie he just drank.
Image: The Pedal Powered Talk Show