Getting the Christmas Tree Home via Velib: 2017 Edition


Each year since moving to Paris, we’ve ended up buying our Christmas tree not terribly far away at the flower markets.  While these markets are on the long list of tourism things to see in Paris, for us it’s more of a case of convenience.  It’s simply the closest spot to get our Christmas tree (save for some grocery stores that tend to have smaller trees).

Less you think I’m kidding about this being an annual tradition, here’s some of our past years’ exploits:

Velib2012 Velib2014 Velib2015 Velib2016

But this year we’ve added another human to the clan, and all of us would be going out together to pick up the tree.  Initially, I had hoped to put The Peanut in a bike seat on the back of the Velib for our transport journey, but some sort of shipping/procurement delay has occurred there…thus, we have no bike seat for her.  But that’s all getting a bit far ahead of ourselves.  First up, picking out the tree!


We generally oscillate between two of the 4-5 different vendors that have Christmas trees at the market.  The prices are pretty similar to that in the US.  Though unlike trees bought at most stores in the US, you’ll find the trees here aren’t designed to be placed in a bucket of water.  Instead, they’re stuck in a log that somehow magically makes it better (seen in the bike basket pictures in a moment).


Pro Tip to The Country of France: It doesn’t actually make it better.  It just makes your tree dry AF.  On the bright side, nobody has to remember to water the tree.

After picking out the tree I was off to get a Velib.  The good news is that the flower market actually has a Velib station right inside it.  The bad news?  Someone stole the entire stand.

Actually, not really stole it.  But rather Velib is changing ownership between two companies, and thus half of the stations are inoperable.  This happens to be one of the halves.  So instead I had to jog over to the Notre Dame station a few blocks away and pick up a bike there.

Once that was all set, the flower market lady bundled up our tree to prepare it for transit.  She didn’t blink an eye when I pulled up with a Velib. Next, we got it all loaded up, and then got a quick family portrait.


Peanut #1 is in the stroller, Peanut #2 is bundled up inside The Girl’s coat. And while sometimes Lucy is along for the ride, that just seemed like it would raise everything to complete and total @#$#-show level.  Thus, she stayed home.

From there, I got the weight and balance all sorted and began my trek home.  It’s actually surprisingly easy to ride with a Christmas tree in the basket of a bike.  Or perhaps, I’ve just done it enough times it doesn’t bother me.


I’d pass the police headquarters, before making a turn towards Notre Dame:


This year I took a slightly different route, just to mix things up a bit.  I’d pass in front of Notre Dame’s main entrances, as opposed to along the side and back of it.


I did a quick loop back towards The Girl, because, why not?


Then I’d cross the bridge to get over the river.  This ended up being a wee bit busy with a random slew of tourists that had just offloaded from a bus.


After crossing the street I made a bit of a loop behind our house, following a gaggle of one-way streets that have virtually no traffic on them.


And then, I was all set at the front door – ready to get the bike unloaded and the tree inside.

Oh, I recorded the ride on Strava too using just the iPhone app!  Here’s that:


(Ironic tidbit: Just after I temporarily parked my Velib bike and locked it, it was stolen. Who cuts and steals a Velib bike?!? Sigh…)

Normally, I take a picture of ourselves in the elevator with the Christmas tree, since the elevator is so tiny.  But this year we were dropping off The Peanut at daycare, so everyone else stayed downstairs.  Except, a neighbor showed up at that very moment, and it was a little awkward to take a selfie in the elevator with me, the tree, and him (he did indeed get in the elevator).  So instead, here’s last year’s picture:

After which we have one tiny set of staircases to get it up into the front door of our apartment.  Then it’s just a matter of decorating it:


Oh, and the final result:


So far The Peanut has only removed a single ornament from the tree (and then put it back on again…over…and over…and over…and over… again).  Though, we’ve hidden all the good ornaments way out of reach this year!

With that – hope everyone has a great week ahead!


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  1. Anton Peterson

    Question. What do you do with the tree after Christmas, is it recycled?

  2. BartW

    Who cuts and steals a Velib bike?
    It’s not a normal Velib bike, It’s the 2017 DCRainmakers Christmas Tree transportation Velib, a collectors item within a few years.

    • Especially given the system only has two weeks left before it’s shut off!

      After that point, it becomes pretty obvious you stole a Velib. But again, why bother?

      I suspect like most stolen Velib’s though, they just end up in the river.

  3. Hahah, that’s great.

  4. Rob

    Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noël Ray – Thanks for another year of great reviews and lovely insights like this into Paris life

  5. gingerneil

    These traditions are what make Christmas so personal and special. We’ve been going to the same local farm for 15 years – it just wouldn’t feel the same going anywhere else. Unfortunately it’s a 7 mile drive along dark country roads… Wouldn’t fancy that on a Boris Bike!! ??

  6. matt

    once again, you’re my hero Ray

  7. Scott E

    Joyous tradition. Best wishes for the season.

  8. Hopjesvla

    ha ha cool, did that also a few times, though riding my bike wasn’t possible..

  9. Joey

    ” It just makes your tree dry AF”
    What does AF mean?
    Great tradition. Good for you.

  10. Thomas Clement

    Merry Christmas Ray !!! All the best for you 4 !!

  11. Anonymouse

    How does the stolen bike get handled? Cost of doing business for the operator, so you report it and that’s that? Or do you have to pay some portion of it?

    • I reported it, but still can’t use my Velib account. Ironically enough, I’ve since signed up for two additional other Bikeshare programs since then. I’ve also stolen The Girl’s Velib card.

      The challenge is Velib doesn’t care right now. Their employees don’t care because in 11 days they don’t have jobs anymore (or, at least not with JCD).

  12. Marcel

    From personal experience: walking with a bike works as well, as does one of those shopping trolleys my mom uses for groceries. Merry Christmas!

  13. Andy

    I gues we wont se a samsung gear sport rewiev 2017. 2018?
    What i “most of all” wish for christmas is a Huawei watch 2 rewiev but thats to old so that wont hapen.

    Marry christmas!

  14. Kaj

    No helmet? You need to protect your head a bit more carefully..:)

  15. henry

    off topic but where is the post about the Canyon bike you’re building with a listing of components?

  16. David

    So impressive that the Girl can run along side, with a stroller and a baby on her tummy, to document your bike ride with tree, the whole way! And, that view out of your window by the tree?? Whoa!!!

  17. Pawel

    You’re cycling without a helmet…

  18. Michael Sare

    reminds me of our time in Nagoya, Japan. we could not afford an auto and depended on our bikes to get around and do shopping. The “Royal Home Center” is a sort of a “Home Depot” in Japan.

  19. MyG

    Hey, DC where is the snow? Here in Quebec there is at least 20 cm on the ground :-P

  20. Jos Mulder

    Merry Christmas , greetings form Ede, Holland

  21. Allan Broadribb

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful year – we have enjoyed it – especially your Paris stories and travels. And . . . when Christmas is over just put the tree back on the velib and you’ll be recycling it! All the best for 2018.

  22. GM

    Are you still emailing updates? The last one I received was Nov 9.

    Always look forward to it.

  23. Doron

    Happy new year

  24. Doron

    Happy new year ray

  25. giorgitd

    Happy New Year to a terrific community centered around Ray’s devotion to sports technology and his willingness to describe life experiences that some of us dream about. Congrats to the Makers on this end-of-year celebration and thanks to all who have contributed to our shared community. See you all in 2018!

  26. jim F.

    Ray ~ I’ve noticed that the Tapiriik site is getting lots of complaints and it has also stopped working for me. I do a lot of my trainer workouts with perfpro which uploads to Strava. I was using Tapiriik to sync with GarminConnect. Are there any other products that will do this? I’ve been looking but don’t see anything but if there is something you or one of your subscribers will certainly know….
    Best wishes to you, the Girl and Peanuts for the New Year.

  27. Ray where did you get that ornament? Would love to find one similar.

  28. Lars

    Hi Ray,
    although you moved to Amsterdam, Ihave on question for you regarding Paris: Flying home from the U.S. to Germany, I have a layover of 6.5hrs (7AM to 1.30 PM) in Paris CDG this Friday! Would you think this is sufficient time for a short trip to the center of Paris? I figured out that a velib bike would give me enough felxibility to see some of the most important places. On the other hand I read bad things about the operator of velib and that the system isn#t working. What is your experience? Thanks in advance for your answer! Lars