Day #9 Saturday - ‘Paris… we meet again!’

Last time we were blessed enough to visit the beautiful city of Paris we felt there was still so much we could have done. Well, today we did it!
Without having the roof box attached to our roof (like we did last year) we found we were able to park inside the underground parking lot across from Notre Dame. The most it would cost us would be €22.50 for the day in parking… and there would be no need to return to the car every 2 hours like we did when we parked outdoors last year. Whew!
We went for a nice photographic walk around the outside of Notre Dame and were just deciding what to do next when Matt suggested we hire bikes for the day. Fabulous idea! Back in Australia, a few years ago, we had watched an episode of ‘Getaway’ that showed how you could hire bikes around Paris, leaving them when not needed at designated parking spots, and taking a new one whenever you desire. We had seen them last year when we visited but gave it a miss. Not this time!
The bikes were a fairly simple thing to organise. You simply key in details into a computerised booth next to any of the bike stations. All that is needed is a bank approval (from an approved credit card) for a refundable deposit of €150 for each bike. The bikes themselves cost an initial amount of €1 for 24 hours hire (including the first half hours ride). It then cost €1 for every half hour of use. This fee is only calculated for the time you actually ride the bikes. So, if you decided to park the bike back in one of the designated parking areas (electronically plugged in to locking devices) you are not charged for usage during this time. This is great! It means you can ride in the crazy Parisian traffic to get from place to place and park the bike to go for a walk around whenever you like. We saw so much of Paris this way. We would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Paris. The drivers are a little crazy but, as the police officers told Zane, they will move out of the way. The bikes have as much right to be on the roads as the cars. So cool! At the end of the day we paid only €8 each for the hire of our bikes… that’s 4 hours of riding time. Wow!

After had planned on eating out for lunch and, after seeing the high cost of food in the cafes’, we decided to look for the nearest McDonalds Restaurant. We asked a girl in a souvenir shop (with a mixture of French and English to get us by ... quite funny, really). In the end we made the universal ‘M’ sign with our hands and she directed us (in French and English) to the nearest McDonalds. We had already parked the bikes so we walked the 15 minutes from there to the Paris Metro area, where we found what we were looking for. We were quite impressed with the quality of the ordering system and food at this particular McDonalds. We used the express order computer, paying with our card, and simply lined up, waiting for our number to be called. Their menu was a lot better than what we are used to. There were loads of healthy options and even potato wedges or carrot sticks instead of fries (if you desire). Matt and Kerry had wedges and the boys stuck to their favourite fries. Their Big Macs even come on whole wheat buns if you like... which Kerry did (much better on the tummy). Our whole meal (ice creams included) set us back only €23.00 (standard UK prices). A good move!

Once we finished our sightseeing for the day we decided to head back, using the bikes, to the car: easier said than done! We quickly discovered that, despite us knowing which general direction we were in, Paris is filled with unexpected one- way streets. This took us on a little bit of an extra sightseeing tour that we had not planned. Luckily for us, the whole experience of riding around Paris on bikes was so much fun that we really didn’t mind. So French!!!
Bike riding around Paris is an absolute must do, even if your fitness levels are low; as Paris is almost completely flat (no hills)!!!
When is Paris…… we did as the Parisians do!


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