Before I tell you what a pile of poodle poo Paris is, I really should declare a few prior prejudices. First, my Primrose was raised in Jersey in the Channel Islands. All the street signs in Jersey are written in English and French. Their towns have French names. They receive French TV. They can see cars driving in France over the water. They are more qualified than anyone to say the French are retarded and dirty, and they say that exactly. They say the French are retarded and dirty. My mother told me they only bathe once per week, preferring to cover their stench with perfume than tackle it at the source. During my evangelical Protestant phase when I was 15, an evangelist told us the Frogs don’t go to church, and though I’m an atheist these days myself, that does not excuse the Frogs’ lack of god-fearing. I must declare too, how I cringe whenever an English speaker says “Tour de France”, rather than “Tour of France.” I would sooner stop bathing than not Anglicize every French word or phrase, as is my want.
So you see, I didn’t come here expecting the best. I wish I could say I have been pleasantly surprised, but I haven’t. As a cyclist I find a contradictory network of bike paths, that one moment bans cyclists from certain roads, and the next makes us share giant roundabouts as though we have motors. I have felt buffeted like a pinball, away from my course, and never into places I would say were pleasant for cycling.
I have been cut off by busses, denied entrance into the Pompidou Centre with my folded up Brompton (she pretended she couldn’t speak English so, in my language, I told her she needed a shower), and I have been given the squeeze by motorcyclists and taxis when I have been minding my own business following sharrows.
Evidently authorities here thought a few token bike lanes, that police block with their vans, meant this city was ready for thousands of cheap city bikes, to get everyone riding. If the city wasn’t quite ready with its infrastructure, then never mind, the theory would have it that thousands of frogs all over the roads riding bikes, would tame the behaviour of the frogs driving cars.
Alas I suspect actual little green frogs on the road would have more effect. At least the average driver, and motorbike rider, would think frogs of the amphibious kind were a little bit cute, and maybe worth slowing down for.