A weekend in Paris: Chocolates, Cycling and Running

On Friday and Monday, I had/have work related meetings in Paris, so I decided to make it a bit of a weekend, and The Girl came along as well.

From the moment we got off the plane, we knew that trouble was abound – primarily in the caloric balance department.  See, for the most part, much of the weekend revolved around these two items:

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Now, we didn’t discriminate on the pastry front.  If we saw something in a pastry shop that didn’t strictly fall into the above categories, we still gave it a whirl.

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The above location – Angelina’s, is where we had breakfast Friday morning after landing into Paris and before my afternoon meetings.  It had the most incredibly thick hot chocolate.  Numerous folks have told us it has the best in the city – and based on how it tasted, I’d certainly not argue that point.  Amazing stuff.

The rest of the afternoon I was busy in a whole slew of meetings, so we’ll shift over to Saturday.

Saturday we decided to spend quite a bit of time just exploring Paris.  By far the best way to do this is via bike.  We got a day-pass for the Velib program, which is a bike-share program where we only paid about $2 for the full day.

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They have a crazy array of stations.  Gazillions of them, with even more bikes.  I downloaded an app that showed me station availability and locations.  Check out this view – this is just one neighborhood’s worth, amazing:

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They are of course doing this sort of thing in DC via the Capital Bikeshare, and over time the station density will make the program even more successful.

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For us, the mere fact that there were bikes everywhere we could imagine going – was awesome.  And, if you were a resident, a annual pass is only about $35US.  Totally awesome.

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We enjoyed the fact that for the most part, bike paths were left open for cyclists, and not crowded with runners/walkers.  And the inverse was true as well.

When I was out running (an awesome 10-mile run), I didn’t have to dodge cyclists weaving and bobbing, it was just free and clear.

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As you can see, the weather was amazing.  Here’s a few photos from my run (yup, taken while running) – both areas we really enjoyed:

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Oh, but back to the bike.  Did I mention how awesome they were?  Here, we pulled off after a cross-street to take a quick photo in front of some tall tower.  I hear it’s famous or something.

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And, it makes a great backdrop for the never ending stream of baguettes we ate:

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Now, despite all of this eating – we walked a HECK of a lot.  As you saw on my Friday post, I had my goal set on using six different pedometer devices for the weekend.  And based on your feedback, I also included my 10-mile run.  Overall, I’m impressed to see that the device are in general in the same ballpark.  Some stray points, but overall, not too bad.  In the below photo, you can see five of the six devices (the BodyMedia device being on my upper arm).  In the photo clipped on my running shorts is the FitBit Ultra and SlimCoach.  And on my wrist from left to right is the Nike Fuel, Jawbone UP, and Motoactv (in pedometer mode).

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And, just to show how much walking we did, the Motoactv said at the end of Sunday that on Sunday alone we did 24,753 steps.  About 13,000 of was my 10-mile run.  Crazy!  Hopefully that made up for all the eating!

The more interesting aspect though was how varied the calorie burn numbers were (especially since the goal of most of these devices is primarily to assist calorie burn calculations).  But that’s a different topic for a different day.  Perhaps Thursday.

In between all of our explorations, we met up with Paris-based DCRainmaker reader Casper.  He treated us to an awesome view of the city of coffee, and then later that evening we met up with his family and enjoyed aperitifs’.  Their very young kids are adorable (especially when they spoke French and we had no idea what they said).  Thanks again for the evening, you’re awesome!

With that, we’ll be back in DC before the end of Monday, ready to tackle another week.

12 Comments

  1. oooh those chocolates. and those macaroons! one of each please!!!
    have fun!

    Reply
  2. Glad you enjoyed the Velib, I use it almost everyday to go to work, it's great :D

    And running at the Champs de Mars is always a pleasure !!!

    Reply
  3. It is pity that you didn't announce your intention of coming in Paris; we have a community of runner & blogger here in Paris that have loved to meet with you.

    Reply
  4. You should come to Brittany, just two hours by train and visit StMalo and Mont St Michel. If you come, please tell me. I'll invite you a beer, or a galette saucisse (the our very local hot dog-ish fast food! ;-))

    Reply
  5. Some days I dream of being you on all your travels. Love all the pics and tips of things to do if I ever make it there.

    Reply
  6. I am glad you loved my city! Beautiful and full of secrets that take a lifetime to discover.
    merci from a fellow Parisian triathlete

    Reply
  7. Hi Ray,

    I am headed to Paris for a week in June. Any recommendations on places to swim, or the best way to locate places to swim?

    Richard

    Reply
  8. hey Ray, good times. Paris is a fun city. I wrote a blog about running the monumets there (link to cointossforum.blogspot.com)

    and another about cycling in the pyrenees(link to cointossforum.blogspot.com). Thought you might find these posts interesting.

    Reply
  9. That trip looks amazing! Love the bike share program!

    Sarah
    http://www.thinfluenced.com

    Reply
  10. Step counts are poorly correlated to energy consumption. If you are running you use much more energy per step than walking. If you go faster most of the increase in speed comes from increase in stride length for both walking and running so the pedometer doesn't notice. Pedometers also do not measure grade. Step counters can be had for a few dollars but the information they provide is not very useful.

    If you are mostly sedentary they are useful in quantifying an increase in walking effort and they can be useful after calibration for runners as runners mostly go at about the same speed with about the same stride length but you need more than just step count. If you want to measure energy burned you can do better measuring body accelerations which correlates well for most activities. Effort associated with grades is missed using body accelerations and effort doing things where your body is stationary but your arms or legs are working like bicycling is missed. There is an Android app that uses accelerometers to identify activities and estimate energy consumption at link to play.google.com

    Reply
  11. Hi Ken-

    Note that all of the above mentioned units have 3D accellerometers in them, so a bit more sophisticated than typical step counters. Each unit handles speed a bit differently - some are better at tracking it, others, not as much.

    Ultimately, many phone batteries won't give the type of battery life that these devices can go for (some upwards of 1-2 weeks with constant on).

    Reply
  12. It'll be interesting to read how the products you are testing do their estimates and how accurate they are. Step counts are intuitively a proxy for distance, energy consumption and speed but step counts need additional information for reasonable accuracy e.g. person is jogging and jogging stride length is x.

    Foot falls produce greater body accelerations than almost anything else. Ultra low battery consumption devices exploit this by using the accelerometer to wake up the processor on high accelerations rather than sampling continuously and analysing the signal. Phones could do this also. For example, the Xperia Active uses the BMA250 accelerometer which consumes negligible power and provides "motion-triggered interrupt-signal generation". The Active doesn't use this functionality but if it did the included Walkmate pedometer app could remove the battery use warning.

    However, if you only process high accelerations you can count steps but you limit the sophistication of the processing algorithm and therefore potential accuracy. We sample at 20Hz for 6 seconds out of every 30 in a smart phone app and calculate features from analysing the signal to provide activity classification and energy estimates without whacking the battery too much.

    Reply

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