dimanche 6 avril 2008

Velo & chocolat

Here's one for the quirky local commerce file: we recently visited this bicycle shop/hot chocolate bar. Those two things go together like a horse and carriage.

As the weather has started to get nicer (on some days more than others: it's freezing and hailing as I type this), Maki and I have taken out our bikes, which came with our move from DC. Unfortunately the bikes suffered some minor damage on the way out (the tires needed to be replaced) so we found this bike shop not too far from our place, on the bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement. That area used to be quite run-down and seedy, but is in the process of gentrification (yuppies are known in this country as bobos - bourgeois bohemians, and these are the kind of people who pay inflated rents to live in the ghetto over here just like they do in DC, although the chances of gettin' a cap busted in yo' ass are probably statistically lower here than in Logan Circle). The bassin is a body of water that is an extension of the canal St. Martin (a canal that runs through the center of paris and still carries some barges and tour boats) and on weekends one sees rowing crews racing on it and small children sailing little remote-control boats. There's a cinema and a couple of nice cafes along the side of it and it's quite pleasant.

But anyway, back to Velo & Chocolat, they sell bikes, hot chocolate, organic crunchy granola type of fruit juices and most important, they also have a bicycle repairman, so it's very handy. His rates are very reasonable, but the work ethic is relaxed to say the least, which is where the hot chocolate comes in handy - you'll probably have to drink quite a few before they get around to you. If they let you, that is. Yesterday I went back to get something else fixed on my bike. When I got there, the entire staff of two was sitting down to lunch. After a few minutes of hanging around, one of them deigned to lift his head and ask me what I wanted. He then told me it would take a while for them to get around to it. I told him that's ok, I'll wait. He clearly didn't like that idea: way too much pressure to have the customer looking at you while you have your lunch, eat your dessert, drink your coffee, smoke your cigarette, etc. He told me to go away and come back in an hour, so I went to have a greasy doner kebab. But hey, the total bill came to 5 Euros, so who's complaining?

The best part of the day, though, was when I got the bike back to my house and chained it to one of the bike racks down the street. I was having a hard time removing the front wheel, so a "committee" of the patrons from the bar across the street (who were, of course, outside having a cigarette) started yelling technical advice to me (did you disconnect the brakes? The nut is too tight, you've got to loosen it) and one guy even came over to have a go at it himself. Next time my bike needs repairs maybe I'll just take it down to the bar, they've obviously got expertise.

1 commentaire:

makietdiego a dit…

Dana is right, our neighborhood is a little village!