On the Rue Tiquetonne, in the 1st Arrondissement, is a small, élégant bicycle shop called En selle Marcel. The proprietor is Thierry Guyot.
When I walked in this morning, a very pleasant young lady greeted me with”Bonjour Monsieur.” I fumbled with my go-to “Pardon, mademoiselle, my French is not well”, sounding like I was referring to an elderly aunt with consumption. She laughed and replied in English, “Non problème” . . . my English is not well either.” I told her I was looking for Thierry, whose name I must have mispronounced, because for several awkward moments she looked puzzeled, and then said in English, “Ohhhh, you mean the boss?”
She called out to a gentleman in the back, “Thierry, Monsieur Jackson is hère” From the back a voice called out in English with a thick French accent, “Ahhh, Rob; you are hère my friend.”
This is Thierry.
Oh, and this is the bike I bought.
I know. Doesn’t make much sensé to buy a bike in Paris. I mean it’s a British bike. A Cooper seven speed Zandvoort with a British leather Brooks saddle and handlebar grips, and a stylish leather tool pouch hanging from the seat. Hell, it’s even got fenders.
To quote Thierry when I first wrote to him, “I of course welcome the business, Monsieur, but why would you want to buy a bike hère in Paris only to box it up and pay Air France to get it home?”
I didn’t really have a good answer then and was wondering the same as I left Thierry’s shop this morning, and began to weave my way through legendary Paris traffic. I told myself that it would be a cool commuter bike for my mile long ride to and from work. I told myself it would enable me to see parts of Paris I might otherwise miss.
All well and good, but hell, let’s be honest. Its a souvenir. A big souvenir.
Buyer’s remorse was taking hold and might have prompted me to act rationally but, as so often happens in life, events took control. Riding east along the southern bank of the Seine, I crested a small rise and came upon a group of onlookers at the water’s edge. Hère is what I saw:
Hell, I’m probably rationalizing — in fact, I know I’m rationalizing — but seems to me that every now and then you need to do something silly– like buying a bike or learning to tango — to really enjoy life.
Think I’ll pull over and watch the world go by. I can’t tango, but I can still ride a bike.