Friday, October 15, 2010

Loved the Pissy Little Cars in Paris

We have Smart cars in the United States, but somehow the sight of so many of them in Paris made me laugh out loud whenever I saw one.
Of course parking is at a premium in such a highly populated city, but their parking style was totally hilarious.
Most people know how to parallel park. You pull your car even with the car in front of your desired spot, then you cut your wheel to the right, slide in and then adjust your car so it's equidistant to the front and back cars you parked between.
Not in Paris.
In Paris, you back into the spot until you firmly hit the car behind you. Then you pull forward until you hit the car in front of you just as firmly. Then you put the car into reverse and hit the car in back again, then pull forward until you hit the car in front good and hard. Mission accomplished.
Every single car in Paris is dented front and back. From Smart cars to Mercedes to Ferraris, all have dented front and back fenders.
Nobody cares, it's simply the way it's done.
There also are about 40 million motorcycles and scooters in Paris. With petrol about $6 a gallon, it's no wonder.
But the coolest thing I saw were huge lines of green bicycles for rent every few blocks. You simply swipe a card, grab a bike and off you go. You get each bike for 30 minutes, then you have to drop it off at another bike line and grab another one.
The sight of a Paris fashion model-type jumping on one of those bikes with her tight pencil skirt and long legs pedaling fast in the middle of car and motorcycle traffic was tres magnifique. Even people in their 70s and 80s rode those green rental bikes. It was very cool to watch, and one more reason why Parisians tend not to be big, fat slobs.


nonnie9999 said...

do all the cafes have outdoor seating? i notice in 2 of the pix that there are chairs set up facing the street instead of on either side the tables.

Karen Zipdrive said...

The majority of cafes have outdoor seating, but the really expensive restaurants do not.
Parisians love to sit outside at tiny tables and people watch.
And if you're alone and sit at one of the tables, generally the person next to you will try to communicate.
A surprising number of Parisians speak enough English to engage in conversation, as long as you're very polite with the bon jours and all that.
When they learned I was a Texan, I immediately apologized for George W. Bush and that line always was a great ice breaker.

Julien Sharp said...

KZ - I bought a smart car when I moved to Denver this summer. I LOVE it. 40+ MPG and a cabriolet top. Plenty of room and height in the two seats, and enough room to get any kind of grocery shopping I do in the back - and also the back can fit the carriers of my dog and cat at the same time. Mostly I love the sticker price, the convertible top I can open whilst driving, and the gas mileage.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I think they are adorable little dumplings, and I'd get one but I fear they might be too slow for my style of driving.
I'm really spoiled with my Acura because it's a fast beast and has all the gadgets anyone could ever ask for.
But the gas mileage is lousy (20 MPG)and I got a huge speeding ticket last month.
I might go test drive one though, and if they are peppy enough I might just get one.

Julien said...

The way they are peppy enough is if you drive in manual - my opinion. It is called an "automated manual" and leaving in automatic feels really counter-productive. But I have zipped up the speedometer pretty fast using manual. I never have it in automatic, actually. You can shift from the stick or on the steering wheel (but no clutch, which is weird at first but I have gotten used to that). It's not going to be a racer, but I'm at 72-ish often on the interstates around Denver and keeping up just fine.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Julien, do Smart cars come with optional automatic transmissions? I don't drive stick shift. Well, I can but I find it too bothersome.