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Not too long ago, I was enjoying an afterwork picnic on the banks of the Ourcq canal with some friends. As I gazed at the moss green water, I contemplated what it must have served as back in the day…perhaps a way to transport goods into the city? Where does it start?
That’s when I decided it might be worth exploring…exploring by bike. The following weekend, along with a friend, I rented a bike for a day at 20 euros (see here) and set out to ride up the Ourcq canal for as far as I could go.
With no cars and a paved bike path the whole way, I rode approximately twenty kilometers to discover, to my suprise, grassy lawns, flowers, fishermen, kayakers, and a peaceful forest (Le Parc National Forestier de la Poudrerie).
Not only was I getting some serious exercise, but I really felt like I was outside of Paris on an adventure. Once we got out of a slightly industrial zone just north of the Parc de la Villette, it was just a long tree-lined rode along the glistening Ourcq canal. When we came across the Poudrerie forest, we pedaled on some trails through the forest and found ourselves the perfect picnic spot facing a large pond with a small island in it. Very picturesque!
While the Ourcq canal continued on without us, its source still a mystery, we vowed that the next bike ride would start off from where we started. We’ll get to the end someday!
All in all, if you want an outdoor, sporty day trip outside Paris for cheap, cycling up the Ourcq would definitely be up your alley. Just make sure you bring a picnic and som sunscreen, as there is hardly anything along the canal, and you are exposed to the elements. However, if you make it to the Poudrerie forest, there are some small snack shops, and one in particular that is inside a building that ressembles small castle.
Here is site (in French) with a good map and some background information: http://www.aufildelourcq.org/loisirs/promvelo.php
Happy cycling this summer!!
And I am not talking about you know what. I am talking about Bikram. Again, not something in the Kama Sutra book, but more like yoga in a 45 degree celsius studio.
Now if you are from the States, this is nothing very novel, but here in Paris, it’s become a rather trendy way to exercise. After hearing so many friends try it, this past week I decided to try it for myself. Here is a sampling of my experiences on the first day…
Hmmm, how to describe this…initial impressions going into the room…well, it’s a bit warm, but tolerable, and then all the sudden WHAM. A wave of odor something like a mix of stinky feet, sweat, and mold greeted my nostrils.
After taking some moments to adjust to the smell, I set down my mat and waited in the dark. By 6pm there were still people arriving and I was wondering how they were all going to fit. At 6:05 pm, our instructor arrived, and we began. She installed herself on a little podium at the front, and began rapidly dictating the exercises without actually doing them herself. In general I thought she was rather good, but I have to admit it was a bit of let down not to able to see her perfect the poses as we went, and instead having to look at the large wobbly guy in front of me as an example.
The routine was a mix of poses that I didn’t find particularly challenging, however with the repetition of them and the added element of heat, I definitely felt my body working. After five minutes of breathing exercises, I was already sweating up a storm. Eeeewww. After 90 minutes, well let’s just say you couldn’t tell the difference between those who had just showered and those coming out of the room.
First day conclusion: It was a deep burn.
So after 5 days of this, here are the pros of sweating your tushe off for 90 minutes straight:
1. The post exercise high is great and you are warm to the core. If you live in a cold place, you are immune to the cold until the next day around noon.
2. You work every part of the body without imposing any sort of of impact. Limbs and back feel strengthened, and posture is improved.
3. Glowing skin! The heat and movement induces increased blood circulation which in addition to the outrageous sweating make for really soft skin.
4. Relaxation. you are reeeeeeeeeelllllllllllaxeddddd. and sleep like a baby.
5. You get an energy boost, who doesn’t like that?
*Perk: Classes can also be taken in English!!!
And now the cons:
1. $$$ – Bikram Yoga, as most yoga in Paris, is on the pricey side. As there is only one Bikram studio with two locations, there is even a monopoly going on here…
However, if you just want to try it out, they have a great deal available for first timers. For 30 euros you can go an unlimited amount of times over the course of ten days and don’t even have to pay to borrow a mat. Otherwise, it’s 55 euros for a 7 day unlimited pass, and 140 euros for a monthly unlimited pass.
2. Showers and dressing room at the Grands Boulevard location are cramped! You can risk waiting a bit to shower, and don’t expect any privacy!
3. Classes are not capped at a certain number, so some days can be really packed, taking away from the relaxing element as you sweat and get sweat on by your neighbors.
4. The stench. While you do get used to it, it still can be a put off to very sensitive people.
5. Lack of variety in the poses. Everytime I went we did exactly the same poses every time. While I was far from perfecting them, I was starting to get bored. PLUS, the poses do not really work the mid-section or the butt.
Last quick tips: Bring 2 towels – one for your mat, one for the shower. Bring loose clothing to put on afterwards, if not forsee taking 15 minutes to get your jeans back on. Yoga outfit = the skimpier the better. Men typically don on speedos, women are mostly in sports bras and shorts. Finally, bring new clean undies, because eveything gets soaked in there. I mean everything.
Yoga Bikram Marais
13, rue Simon Le Franc – 75004 Paris
Tél. : 01 42 47 18 52 – Fax. : 01 40 27 03 19
Yoga Bikram Grands Boulevards
17, rue du Faubourg Montmartre – 75009 Paris
Tél. : 01 42 47 18 52 – Fax. : 01 40 27 03 19