Sure, you can visit the city of lights and walk its endless streets photographing all of your discoveries and stop into the boulangeries and patisseries to taste what the city has to offer, but what about…bike riding? This is one of my favorite ways to see and experience Paris.
Yes, really, riding bikes through Paris.
I recently returned from a great trip through parts of Europe and just knew I was going to have to write about biking through Paris. Craig and I have done it several times before, but this time was made a bit more hilarious with the addition of some friends of ours. Our first bike ride was a little 7 mile jaunt, just before midnight, after having dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Le Pure Cafe.
While we were cruising back to our Opera district hotel, I begged and pleaded with the guys to ride to the Eiffel Tower. I did my best PIA girl whine that I had to see the Eiffel Tower at night, because we do it every time we visit Paris. While I’m NOT a fan of the obnoxious twinkling lights they’ve installed on it (making it look like a bad tchotchke you’d buy off a street vendors blanket on a dare) but the standard yellow glowing lights are beautiful. Girl – 1, Boys – 0. We whizzed through the city streets to oooooh and aaaaah over the tower’s glowing beauty.
Biking through the streets of Paris, at night, is a bit less death defying than doing it during the day. A lot fewer cars. But it’s no less beautiful. The Seine, The Louvre and the streets are all well lit so you can see where you’re going. It’s also a bit more forgiving when you forget how to stop and go through an intersection or two (I won’t give any names of the scofflaws to protect the innocent, but it rhymes with Bob). This was also a great way to burn off a few of the calories we had ingested at dinner. I won’t be so stupid as to think it burned all of them. I’d have to bike my way across the Atlantic Ocean to have done that.
As it was after midnight, we didn’t ride back to our hotel. We parked our bikes in the closet Velib’ rack and managed to track down a cab.
Velib’ is a bike sharing program that’s available to locals AND visitors. And it’s used a lot by the locals. There’s over 20,000 bikes available and racks to put them back in all over the city. The process for using them is simple. You buy a 1 day (approx. $2.30) or 7 day (approx. $10.70) membership. You can do this online or at the bike rack itself. *WARNING if your credit card does not have a chip in it (Europeans credit cards all have chips in them but only some US credit cards do) it won’t work. You’ll need to buy your membership online. After you have your membership, you key in the codes you were given, pick your bike number, remove your bike from the rack and off you go. The first 30 minutes are free and after that you’ll pay about $1.30 for the next 30 minutes. The second half hour is an additional $2.70 and 3rd half hour (and any additional 30 minutes) is about $5.30 each. When you’re done riding, just slide your bike into a rack space, wait for the green light and the two beeps and you’re good to go. There are apps available that tell you where the closest bike rack to you is and how many spaces are available for parking your bike.
The next day was biking to lunch at Le Rouge et Le Verre. (The red and the white…and there’s LOTS of it!)
Completely surrounded by bottles of wine, it’s hard to believe this place is also a little restaurant. We ate well, between our bottles of wines (some which were plucked directly from the shelves before resting on our table). Before leaving, we bought another bottle of Sainte Agathe, had our host open it for us and tuck a few plastic cups in the bag too. We were off to enjoy the beautiful day at the Tuileries reflecting pool.
Yes, I realize this picture does not show the reflecting pool, it’s behind us. But we parked our bikes, pulled chairs up to the edge of the reflecting pool and savored our bottle of wine while getting a little sun on our faces.
We continued riding aimlessly around town for about another hour or so stopping briefly to take this picture of The Seine right around sunset.
One of the delicious things I had to eat that day was a goat cheese salad. Loving the cheeses of France, I had to order it. I was totally surprised when she placed the salad before me. The goat cheese was soft, very soft, like it had no shape at all. Taking a bite of the goat cheese was even more surprising. Where I had expected it to be sharp and tangy, there was no tang. It had a fresh, light dairy flavor…it was fantastic!
After asking a few questions, in my horribly bad French, I learned that this goat cheese was actually called goat curd. I knew I had to make some when I got home.
While my salad in Paris had a few different kinds of leaves in it as well as drapings of Prosciutto, this is pretty close. The goat cheese was served with a good drizzle of honey over it along with a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.
You’ll notice that this goat cheese (goat curds) recipe looks really familiar. That’s because it’s similar to the recipe you’ve been seeing (everywhere) for homemade ricotta cheese.
- 1 Quart Whole Goats Milk (raw or pasteurized, but not ultra pasteurized)
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- Pour milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Heat slowly, over medium heat.
- Stir in salt.
- Once milk reaches 180 degrees Farenheit, stir in lemon juice and turn off heat.
- Cover the pan with a heavy cloth and let sit for 1 hour.
- Remove the cloth and you should see that the milk has curdled.
- Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and pour the milk into it.
- Let the cheese drain like this for an hour.
- Carefully twist the cheesecloth to squeeze out the remaining liquid.
- Place cheese, and cloth, into a lidded container and refrigerate overnight.
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