Cycling home with the Christmas Tree: 2016 Edition

2016-12-06 15.46.58-2

Since moving to Paris, it’s become a little bit of an annual Christmas tradition of ours to pickup our tree at the flower markets and then subsequently bike home with it.  This would mark the 5th year of doing so, though, a few years ago we walked home with it before realizing that biking home is actually much easier.  Of course, in true Parisian fashion I use the Velib, which is the city’s bike sharing system.

First thing we do is head over to the flower markets.  These markets on Île de la Cité (one of the two islands in Paris), have been around since 1830, and offer all sorts of vegetative stuff.


It even turns into a crazy bird shopping locale on Sundays. Then during the holidays, visitors can pickup all sorts of Christmas stuff there as well.

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There are about 4-5 different vendors there who sell trees, each with perhaps 15-30 trees available.  The Girl is a Christmas tree expert and thoroughly inspects all of the trees before giving the nod; this first set of trees were deemed as no-gos.


Eventually though we find one that we like:


Now unlike how we treat most Christmas trees bought in America, the base of these trees are shoved down into half a log.  So you don’t put them in a bucket of water (or feed them sugar water in The Girl’s case).  It still seems to stay green just as long as at home, but the needles are a disaster by the time New Year’s rolls around. The sound of the needles hitting the ground are a liken to a didgeridoo!

Anyways, at this point with our tree selected and the sales man tying it up; I was off to fish out my Velib card.


Then the crazy science of picking out a usable Velib.  The most important thing is ensuring you have good inflated tires.  Also, I tend to gravitate towards the newer/refurbished bikes which have the big seat lever vs the tiny metal ones.  Usually these bikes are in better shape.


Next was getting the bike all loaded up in the basket.  These baskets are built like tanks.  I’ve seen two kids in them at a time before.  And I’ve transported heavy bike trainers in them, as well as even a kitchen sink.  True story: The Bertie’s Cake Studio oversized kitchen sink I bought at a hardware store and then transported via Velib. Even The Girl has taken a ride in one on the rare occasion we’ve had a little to much wine… but I’m certainly not calling her a tank!


From there it was off for the short journey home.  The flower markets snuggle right up against the police headquarters, which is seen below.

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Due to the traffic patterns though, you end up wandering a bit to get home.  It’s definitely shorter to walk, but it’s faster and easier to bike with traffic.



I rounded past the front of Notre Dame, before using the bike lane along the side of it.


Then it was around the back of the gardens to cross Pont de l’Archevêché, which used to be one of the famed lock bridges of Paris.  They just finished the renovations on it yesterday actually, removing all the construction façade and opening both sides of the sidewalk back up again.


Then I had to wait for a stoplight, naturally.


Then it was a quick turn onto the final home stretch!  Though due to one-way roads and cars I had to slightly overshoot the house and loop back around again.


For those wondering, here’s the ultra-distance covered, according to Strava and the Apple Watch:


Of course, the next challenge is getting the thing into our apartment.  That requires our miniature elevator and then up the stairs.  It was too tall to carry vertically up the stairs, so I’d end up having to carry it sideways.

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And of course, last but not least – decoration time!


Tis’ the season! So with that – we’re getting all prepared for the big DCR Open House and morning run tomorrow, and then of course the annual Santa 10K race on Sunday.  Woot!

Have a great weekend all!


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  1. James

    Cracking write up, gave me a good giggle, thanks! :)

  2. Lee Douthitt

    What a view! That part of Paris is just beautiful.

  3. Michael L.

    Some of us would have had to measure our speed this year with the Christmas tree versus last year. Probably tried to improve the the aero package of the tree :-) Have a very Merry Christmas.

  4. Ray Ruyack

    I wonder where they put my lock from the bridge ;-{(. Happy Holidays.

    • Oliv

      Saw on article on that: they removed 65 metric tons of lockers from the bridges and will do a charity sale of the brass in January. They expect to raise 100k€ For the refugees

  5. David E.

    Where’s your helmet, young man?!?!?

  6. gingerneil

    Peanut’s first Christmas… special times! :)

  7. Edgar

    Where is your helmet?????? For goodness sake!!!!! :)

  8. Tyler Loewens

    Man that view out of your window is amazing. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  9. Jan

    Getting the bike into the basket?! Would love to see you do that!

  10. Maxim

    Now this is something I’d call extravaganza…

  11. Mike Richie

    Clearly the peanut was documenting this trip. Was that from the basket of another Velib? She certainly will have a beautiful first Christmas!

  12. K. Tran

    Beautiful pics and a great tradition. Merry xmas to you guys!

  13. Andreï

    Excellent! :)

  14. Thomas D

    Awesome! We’ve brought our Christmas tree home by bike and/or bike trailer the last couple of years, and it works great. Of course, it looks even better with a Parisian backdrop! Good inspiration for more bike use, especially in urban areas! Thanks for the happy post, and merry Christmas!

  15. Larry

    Not to debate whether it’s right or wrong, but a Parisian wearing a bicycle helmet would be like you wearing a helmet driving your car because you see the NASCAR drivers wearing them.

    C’est la vie.

  16. I really love these posts and your blog in general – thanks for sharing with everyone. I hope you and your family have an absolutely amazing Christmas.

  17. Peter Felix

    What an amaxzing view from your window….

  18. seb

    I remember each of those Christmas tree posts, did the rest of the family also rode Vélibs to shoot the photos?
    I’ve always been scared to ride the bike with a baby carrier.

    The last photo with the tree and Notre Dame is just awesome.

  19. khim

    It’s so fun to look at your photos seeing many of the spots we walked on our vacation and seeing the bikes … however is the cupcake shop in holiday trim? have a wonderful holiday.

  20. Daniel

    I just love those little stories. Makes me smile, seeing you every year before christmas riding around paris with a christmas tree.
    Have a nice time with your little family!

  21. Richard McDowell

    Was this all self-filmed using the DJI Mavic? :)

    I must point out that you seem to have your traditional instruments mixed up. I would think that the noise of christmas tree needles falling onto the floor would be more akin to the noise of a rainstick than a didgeridoo, and more in-line with your general online handle too!

  22. Walter

    Awesome — put a smile on my face :-). Joyeux Noel!!

  23. Brit in Daneland

    Standard Operation here in Denmark. Christmas trees are the least of it. Have even heard of people moving house by bike. :-)

  24. Neil Jones

    Either you’re testing some top-secret drone with an amazing follow-me mode*, or did you have The (poor) Girl and the little one running all over the place getting pre-positioned for all those shots, while you just took a nice leisurely ride with a Christmas tree slung over your shoulder?

    *That said, I guess many of the drones already on the market have an in-built attraction to trees.

  25. Bill Murray

    Cool pics of you cycling with the tree, definitely the sort of shot you and your family will reminisc about ina few decades time. And what a view from the window, amazing.

  26. Aaron

    yes, who/what took those follow photos?

  27. Chris

    These pictures are absolutely fantastic. I don’t comment often, but just love these images. My wife and I have a six month old son and we are in awe of your dedication to the blog, Bertie’s bakery, and your incredible family. Cheers from VT.

  28. Pang

    Great story, Ray.
    No helmet?
    Happy Holidays to you and yours.