Welcome to my world! My name's Nik, and I'm a British expatriate who has been living in Paris, France for the last five years. Even though I never planned to stay in Paris for very long, now I'm here I've no plans to leave soon - the beauty of Paris has never worn off, and so far it's been a five year long vacation! Enjoy my ramblings...

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Hot cycling day

It's a hot day today! Unfortunately I had to cycle up to the Pantheon area today, which is at the top of a big hill. I say big in a Parisien sense, since compared to back home in Sheffield it's no more than a slight rise. Actually, that's compared to anywhere with hills. My bike has oodles of gears, but has rarely needed more than two or three of the lowest gears (lowest or highest? I mean the gear that takes the most effort to cycle - the least used gear on my bike is like the one on the exercise bike at the gym where you get on it after some g-strung granny and it's on the lowest setting) - so, I look up the definition of 'low gear' and it means ' The low gear configuration of a transmission'. How dumb is that! So the definition of ineffectual dictionary is 'a dictionary that's ineffectual'...

Anyway, the hill was enough to put me in a terrible sweat, and I must have looked like a complete idiot to the people I was checking into one of our apartments. At least the ride back was effortless, with a nice freewheel from the jardin du luxembourg all the way down to the river.

At one point I stopped at a red light. I was squashed between the curb and a giant bus, so my view across the pededstrian crossing was blocked and I figured there would a crowd of tourists about to pour across in front of me, which they did. However, behind me there was a big ringing of bike bells, and this slightly more than middle aged woman calling to me that 'je vais passer, en fait'. I hauled my bike to the curb, and she pushed past, over the toes of various pedestrians (what was the 'en fait' about? Perhaps more of an ultimatum than a request?).

I have to admit that I'm not the most law-abiding when it comes to traffic lights, since it's very hard to stand still in an empty road when every other bicyclist is happily ignoring the lights and shooting through. At the same time I do try, and tell myself at each lights that I don't really need to get to my destination two minutes quicker. Take your time, smell the roses or artificial coffee smell from Starbucks.

The police do stop you if you go through a red, or the wrong way up a one way street, and the punishment can be a traffic ticket leading to a fine, points off your license, or more usually in Paris, a small scrunched up ball of waste paper. Makes no difference though - cyclists in Paris do not obey any known rules of the road.

So what, you might say. It's the same everywhere. True, but I've seen cyclists hammer through crowded crossings with no consideration at all, and it annoys and disapoints me. The car drivers, even though it might seem hectic here, are actually very considerate to pedestrians. Possibly cyclists consider themselves the same as pedestrians, and can follow the same lack of rules. The only consideration is that they've a little bell to help clear a path.