Last night when we were having dinner and drinks with our friend, she talked about riding her bike sometimes through the streets of Paris. Watching the many cars go by and seeing the often narrow and precarious streets on our walks, I couldn’t possibly imagine riding a bike here without being terrified much of the time. As it turns out, the experience she described, confirmed that it is indeed quite dangerous. Though cars are one thing to deal with, motorcycles and rent-a-scooters are zooming by on the streets as well. It’s quite clear that that two-wheeled power vehicles follow their own rules and rarely adhere to stoplights or even the proper direction on a one-way street. Even walking can be a bit of an adventure, so I can’t imagine riding a bike here. Also, not a single person wears a helmet, which does sort of remind me of riding bikes when I was a kid. It brings back memories of when I rode all around my neighborhood, and was much more fearless. I asked Philippe if he rode a bike here when he was a kid and he said, “Yes… it was scary!” It seems we have very different childhood memories of riding bicycles.

Today, we had lunch with Philippe’s mother and the walk back to our apartment felt so bitterly cold my toes were starting to go numb. We decided that next year we’ll push our little trip a couple months forward so we can get some warmer weather. The sun has only made one brief appearance in our entire time here and it would be nice to have a bit more sun to truly enjoy the sights. Yet, in many ways it’s made this trip feel even more like we’re just living in Paris for a bit. The lifestyle here is wonderful and I adore it every time we come. Each time we arrive in our new apartment, and I spy that tiny refrigerator, I realize I’m home again. No more weekly trips to the grocery and a hope that you got everything you need for the week. Here, you just walk around the neighborhood and get only what you need that day on your way back to your apartment. Not only that, we have an option of four boulangeries to get our baguette for breakfast each morning. And we’ve already discovered the best and worst of the mix. All baguettes taste better here, but some taste even better than others.

This year, I’ve decided to spend more time in my attempts to learn French. Much of my inability to communicate properly here comes from the fear of seeming foolish or like a total failure. Each time I’m not understood makes me even more shy to speak, which is most of the time, unfortunately. In that same spirit, these last few doodlewashes have been a break from my usual objects, looser than my typical style, and even include humans. I’ve found the same pattern of fear in my art. I’m often a bit shy to try really new things and worried they’ll turn out horribly. My schedule only allows one attempt each day, so these posts are raw, real and a bit like performance art with no rehearsals. But, DOing is the only real solution in all cases to get over such silly thoughts. That combined with lots and lots of practice, of course. And who knows, as I journey onward with a bit more of a fearless spirit, perhaps I’ll discover a new artistic style I enjoy, finally be able to speak French properly, or maybe, one day perhaps, even find myself riding a bicycle in Paris.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio!), + Leaf Green, and Cobalt Turquoise. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Day 23 - Bicycle In Paris Watercolor - Sketchbook Detail - Doodlewash

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30 thoughts on “Riding A Bicycle In Paris

  1. And your recent doodlewashes, today included, have been joli! I think with language you must talk at least a little bit of it each day, as well. I have faith in you. You’ll be talking like a native by your next visit!

    1. Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕So happy you’re enjoying these! I figure with nearly no time to paint, it’s a perfect time to play and experiment a little! And thank you for your faith in me… hehe… we’ll see! I’m determined to get much better at least with my French!

  2. I have fond memories of riding a bike as a kid and teenager! We lived in the suburbs and I would ride my bike everywhere, including school, during middle school. I loved the speed, the rush of air, the feeling of being free in the elements. Surprised they aren’t required to wear helmets in Paris, though. Head injuries can be truly catastrophic, and I count myself lucky not to have had one in the days of no helmets. In California, all bike and motorcycle riders must wear them.

  3. I’ve loved reading along with your French adventures, Charlie, and I have no doubt that you will speak better French in no time! Just stay off those bicycles – it sounds treacherous! 🚲 🇫🇷 🥖 👨🏼‍🎨😘🥰

  4. I’m loving these creations of art and reading your stories of adventures in Paris. I just love that you make the most of simple moments of life. Because really – that is what makes up life! <3

  5. Hi, Charlie! I’m so enjoying your sketches and stories of your visit in Paris. I think it is wonderful that you want to improve your French speaking ability. As a longtime former teacher of French and other languages, I would like to suggest that you try the free app Duolingo. It is set up in a way that you review and go on to something new every time you open the app, which sends you a reminder every day to spend a few minutes on your target language. I have used the app to learn some Italian and Swedish. If you try it, let me know what you think and how you like it!

    1. Thanks so much!! 😃💕I have actually tried Duolingo… both myself (in French) and Philippe’s mother (in English) have used it. It’s wonderful for building vocabulary for sure! I need to make a more concerted effort to use it daily! 😊

  6. When I was first diagnosed with MS, my Dr told me to start biking to build up my leg muscles. I bought a bike and began riding every day after work. I had a 10 mile route out my front door. Of course I lived in the country and saw very few cars. It was glorious. But the best rides I took in those days were on a newly laid highway they were building near my house. It was paved, but not open to traffic yet. The pavement was smooth and perfect. I had about two months of using that road before it was finished and open to traffic. Even today, almost 30 years later, I remember the feeling of flying that road.

    1. Oh wow! Love that story! 😃💕 How amazing! I would love riding a bike on a smooth open road! I really enjoy it, but never like to ride where there’s chaos all about. It’s awesome you got to enjoy those two precious months of glorious riding!

  7. You are so talented. To be able to paint so well ‘off the cuff’ is inspiring. Perhaps you could practice your french by describing your sketch to Phillipe in French.

  8. Your bike looks like a bike! I’m afraid to ride a bike here in bike town, with 1000 of bike paths. I couldn’t imagine riding one amongst the chaos there. I’ll stay on my two feet thank you.

  9. I was just thinking how fun it is that your recently paintings have been a change from your usual style, and you explained it! They are great! I was surprised that your French progress has been hindered by Adult Charlie. Maybe let Little Charlie take over and run free with bad pronunciations and grammatical structures. Might drive Philippe a bit mad, but the progress will be remarkable. (“Wise” words from someone who has studied a number of languages and is always afraid to speak them.) ( :

    1. hehe! Thanks, Ellie!! 😃💕 I SO appreciate your wise words and reminder to let Little Charlie take control when it comes to learning a foreign language as well. In truth, my time spent with my niece and the daughter of Philippe’s best friend has been the best French lesson I’ve had yet. Children are SO patient! hehe… best teachers ever!

  10. This is a great story. I lived in Paris for a short time and riding a bike there does seem scary! But I have a Parisian friend and he really likes the free bike program and uses it a lot. Maybe you get used to riding in the city, I don’t know. Thanks for your great thoughts and art. Looking forward to the next post!

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