Published in לאשה Laisha Magazine, May 2016
Translated into Hebrew by Daphne Levy*. Original English below.
Paris and it’s surrounds are perfect for family and couple bicycle rides. Enjoy these three fun routes and explore the City of Lights.
Paris for Lovers
Follow the Seine river on this romantic twilight ride, taking in some of the most beautiful and iconic sights in the world. Admire the Gothic masterpiece that is the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral , then cycle along the Quai de la Corse to Pont Neuf: the oldest bridge in Paris. Cross to the Left Bank, taking Quai de Conti to the Pont des Arts. With the dome of the Academie de la France behind you, walk your bike over this pretty wooden footbridge and ride into the calm and secret Cour Carrée of the Louvre Museum. Continue through to the main courtyard, and the unmistakable Pyramide du Louvre. Watch the sunset reflecting from its glass panes onto the 15th Century building. Now ride under the little Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel to the top of the Tuileries Gardens, and turn left over the Pont Royal. Take the car-free Berges de la Seine past the Musée d’Orsay, and under iconic bridges like Pont Alexander III, to Pont de l’Alma. Ride up Avenue Rapp into the Champs de Mars, the green field at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy the hourly show as the Tower’s 20,000 lights flash like glitter.
Bicycle rental available from Bike About Tours: www.bikeabouttours.com (approx €20/day)
Discover the Boulogne Forest
With approximately 15km of dedicated bicycle paths, the Boulogne Forest, which hugs Paris’s western perimeter is made for family cycle trips. Begin at the Porte de Boulogne, picking up the 3.6km cycle path which heads towards the Longchamp Hippodrome. Let the over-energized members of your group go racing around this large, smooth track. Just keep an eye out for the high-speed cycle teams! Take the Route de Sèvres-à-Neuilly to visit the beautiful Parc Bagatelle, then past the Jardin d’Acclimation and the modern architecture of the Fondation Louis Vuitton towards the Carrefour de Longchamp, and the beautiful waterfall. Loop around the Lac Supérieur, then the Lac Inférieur for a picturesque finish.
Bicycle hire (approx 5€/h) is available from the jetty of the Lac Inférieur.
Ride like a King at the Château de Versailles
Just a 30 minute train ride south-west of Paris, the Château of Versailles draws the most visitors, but those in the know consider the lush gardens and forests of the estate to be the true jewel. Discover the true playgrounds of the kings and queens. Hire a bike from beside the Grand Canal (approx 19€/day), and cycle all the way around to the top. Watch the Château from afar and enjoy the peace and quiet. Next, delve into one of the many quiet woodland paths toward the pink-marbled Grand Trianon, built by Louis XIV as an entertainment venue. Next, ride the short distance to the Petit Trianon. Built by Louis XV for his mistress Madame de Pompadour but made famous by Marie Antoinette. Walk through to the ‘Temple of Love’ gazebo, and out towards the adorable Queens Village and Farm, built so that Marie Antoinette could pretend to be a milkmaid, and escape the pressures of court life. Children will especially love seeing the fluffy bunny rabbits, baby goats and white peacocks at the farm.
To get to Versailles on your own: take the RER C from the city, to Versailles-Rive Gauche. Approximately 30 minutes, 8€20 return trip. Trains depart frequently all day.
In France, helmets are required for minors (-14 years old). Always have comfortable riding clothes, water and sunscreen
*The first (and only other) time I had an article translated, I realised that I'd unconsciously submitted a rather stilted text which didn't reflect my usual style. I think it was because on some level I didn't trust the skills of translator. Would I have done the same if it had been translated into Italian, for example, and not the very unfamiliar Hebrew? Who knows. It was an odd and regrettable thing to do, but also a valuable lesson. This time the text is a bit stilted again, but for a totally different reason: my word count was so tight, I had to cut, cut, cut!