Thursday, June 3, 2010

Conquering the streets of Paris on my bike

Some people are living a dream. I'm living a song. By Queen. And it goes like this...

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

Life has been absolutely crazy and exhausting since arriving to Paris just over a week ago. I think about what I knew about the city then, and that in just a few hours I'm giving my first solo tour to some unsuspecting tourists and it seems like I've been here for ages. Fat Tire gets us street-ready by going on 9 training tours and a logistical tour with just the Fat Tire team. Learning the French history of the stops on the tour was the easy part. The complication of this job is found in the details. On bike tours, I have a group of 23 tourists riding mindlessly behind me so I have to not only know the route through busy streets, but learn the timing of stoplights, where bus lanes collide with bike lanes, where we perform Advanced Traffic Maneuvers (ATMs) which are clearly a violation of many traffic laws! For Segway tours we stay mostly on the sidewalks, but have to know where are the ramps, where are the polls, where are the bumps - all things that have people flying off their Segways. Literally. I have already seen some gnarly Segway falls. I *think* I have it all down but will find out in a few hours.

This really may be the coolest job in the world. It pays somewhere just below poverty level, so it's a good thing it is an absolute blast! Most of the people who take Fat Tire tours are a lot of fun to talk to (although I'm giving a Segway tour to a non-English speaking group of Germans tomorrow, eek). An average work week is about 50 hours and a whole lot of miles. On the day tours we stop and eat in a cafe in the colorful Tulleries Garden outside the Lourve. At night we stop and have delicious ice cream and take an hour boat ride down the Seine where we drink wine and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle. So I get paid to eat ice cream, drink wine, absorb a beautiful city and hear myself talk. Maybe I am living a dream!

I love my flat. It's in the 11th arrondissement which is on the right bank on the east side of town. When anyone asks me where I live and I tell them the 11th they say something like - ohhh, trendy. Except I've been working so much I have no idea where are the trendy stuff is - I do pass a McDonalds right down the street but I don't think that's it. When I haven't been working 16 hour days I've squeezed in some fun. I meandered through a street market and bought fresh fruit, cheese and perfectly baked baguettes (crispy on the outside, soft on the inside). Last week I joined guides at a picnic on the quay (pathway along the river Seine) and drank red wine and ate soft garlicy cheese that made me fall in love with France all over again. Last night eight of us went to a fondue restaurant in Montmarte. I think I have three pounds of cheesy bread stuck in my stomach at this very moment. Then we hiked up to Sacré-Coeur Basilica and sat on the steps soaking up the view over Paris rooftops at night. It was at that moment last night I had a 'wow' moment. I'm so blessed to have this opportunity to spend a few months in Paris making new friends and a wonderful (albeit exhausting) job where I get to share my love of travel and Paris with people every day.

It won't surprise anyone who knows me well that I've been here nine days and have yet to unpack my suitcase. So I'm going to make me a cafĂ© au lait I made with fresh grounds I picked up yesterday and get to unpacking. 


  1. What's up with the baby bottles at dinner? So glad to hear you are loving it already!

  2. Thinking of you and your saftey on that bike!

  3. Sounds and looks like your having a BLAST, as usual. You live such a hard life!

  4. miss you! sounds like you're having a great time already! are your legs strong like bull yet? ;0) don't fall into the seine...


  5. love following your adventures. i am living vicariously through your blog!
    what's next?

  6. Stefani,
    Just wanted to say thank you again for what my children called "the best time they have ever had" on June 8th in Paris. You may remember my brilliant move...let me refresh. I uniquely learned how to crash on a segway going backwards without actually stepping on the segway. Remember? Anyway, hope your friend made it to Paris to visit and that your days and ways are filled with joy. We never made it to the top of the building you told us about. Hunter did go to the top of the ETower just to say that he did it. We are back in Texas now in the heat fondly remembering our encounter with the tourguide from Texas who showed the 6 of us a great time in Paris!!