There’s no better time for making good resolutions than the beginning of a new year: we’re going to get off to a good start this year on our bicycles (yes, even if it’s still the middle of winter!) with three of our finest itineraries from 2021!
Paris, by its writers
‘To breathe in Paris is to nourish the soul’, wrote Victor Hugo, and we can but agree with him. The City of Light has been a source of inspiration for many artists and was of great importance for two in particular: Emile Zola and the author of Les Misérables. Follow us as we enter the heart of Paris in Châtelet-les-Halles. It all began near to Réaumur-Sébastopol where the former ‘Cour des Miracles’ (the old slum district) depicted in Notre-Dame-de-Paris was once located. A smile crosses our lips at the thought that we’re following in the footsteps of Esmeralda and Gringoire the poet. In fact, our next stop will be this world-famous church, one of Paris’ gems – once we’ve finished strolling around Les Halles as we retrace the stories of the novels “Le Ventre de Paris” (the Belly of Paris) and “Les Misérables”.
Vélib’ top tip: this itinerary is perfect for kids. It’s not too long and it’s a great way of introducing them to literature and history as they pedal along! However, do think carefully about the time of day and the day of the week you pick for your trip as the area of Les Halles is well-known for being very busy at times…
Pedalling through the Roaring Twenties
Let’s continue to move back in time (no need for the TARDIS or Doctor Who, though!), as we head to Boulogne-Billancourt at the time of the Roaring Twenties. Creativity and innovation are everywhere to be seen, from the Molitor swimming pool, Le Corbusier’s residence, artists’ studios and the library which Paul Marmottan dedicated to the First Empire period. Here you’ll also find the mansion bought by Edith Piaf for the love of her life, Marcel Cerdan. She even wrote one of her most famous hits, ‘L’hymne à l’amour’ here.
Vélib’ top tip: take time to visit the Espace Landowski to catch a movie or explore the Roaring Twenties at the Musée des années 1930 (the Museum of the 1930s).
Scratch your antiques itch at the Saint-Ouen Flea market
Saint-Ouen is well-known for its famous flea market, where you can lose yourself for hours in the pursuit of the bargain of the century. The surrounding town does have lots of other fascinating and exciting sights too! Some relate to the automobile industry (rest assured that the bicycle remains our first love, no matter what happens). For example, cars appear as trompe-l’œil murals on residential buildings, pop up in haute couture designs – there’s even an old PSA Peugeot-Citroën factory here. Saint-Ouen is also the place to learn more about Louis XVIII by exploring his château (yes, that’s right), where the declaration of Saint Ouen which restored the monarchy was signed in 1814.
Vélib’ top tip: don’t forget to bring a small rucksack in case you suddenly decide to go bargain-hunting at the Saint-Ouen flea market once you’ve finished the itinerary. The Halles Gourmandes are due to open in summer 2022. In the meantime, restaurants, market stalls selling fresh food and booth-style snack bars will certainly offer you a warm welcome, a hot meal and a cold drink!