IMG_2681It’s increasingly easy to get around French cities on two wheels. More cities offer rental bikes and bike lanes are expanding. Mopeds, or cyclomoteurs, are another popular choice. I like their candy colors and retro style.IMG_2674pink motoP1100785 2P1030288IMG_2569One reason they’re popular is that you don’t need a license. Since you can’t get a driver’s license in France until age 18, lots of teens find mobility on mopeds, though there’s still a test for driving them. Usually there’s a sea of cyclomoteurs in front of high schools.img_0658The podcaster Oliver Gee of the Earful Tower and his lovely wife Lina did a heart-shaped (kind of) tour around France on their cute little red scooter for their honeymoon, and even stopped in Carcassonne. If you’re a francophile, you should check out his podcast and YouTube videos. IMG_7043

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This one isn’t trying to look retro; it is the real thing, still plugging along.

I can see the convenience, especially in a large city, where going across town by bike or public transport could take a long time, or if you have to go very early or very late. There is somebody with a puttering moped who goes through our village around 4 a.m. Sometimes when I’m lying awake with the windows open, I can hear the motor buzzing its way closer and closer, like a mosquito that you kind of make out in the room and then realize it’s coming in for your blood as it nears your ears. The moped moves beyond our house, sputtering as it struggles up the steep hill before it descends on the other side, out of earshot. Why so early? What does the driver do? Probably works in a bakery in town–that starts early.IMG_2672IMG_2670I keep hearing about electric scooters and have spied one so far in Carcassonne. Manual scooters are more popular. There’s also an outfit that does tours on Segways. IMG_2670IMG_2571I used to think it would be great to have a moped to tool around town. Not where we live now–it’s too far and too hilly and the roads don’t have shoulders. I don’t need to go anywhere at 4 a.m. Long ago, I met a colleague for drinks in Paris and he offered me a ride on his moped. It was terrifying. In Paris, drivers turn left from the far right lane and stuff like that. Not my colleague, but cars. The folks with a ton of steel around them to protect them if they happen to run into anything.

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OK, not a moped, but very stylish.

That brings me to the Twizy, which is a great name for this thing. Made by Renault, it’s called a quadricycle. Seats up to two people and even has a tiny trunk (considering the trunk of my Aygo holds one bag of groceries, I am used to a small trunk). Plug-in electric, with a maximum range of 100 kilometers (62 miles). It’s expensive for what it is (€7,000 for the basic model), but I think it’s cute and interesting. IMG_1823IMG_1824 2IMG_1825Meanwhile, it’s hot here. School has been canceled. National exams for ninth-graders have been postponed, throwing families’ summer travel into chaos. The heat wave is called a canicule, which has to do with dogs–the dog days of summer, which is when Sirius, or the dog star, rises with the sun. Enjoy this analysis by a weather forecaster. IMG_2671While I definitely appreciated a dip in the pool late last night, it isn’t as bad as all that. This region is built for heat. Thick stone walls insulate interiors like caves. Shutters blunt the greenhouse effect. Everything just slows down and activity is shifted to morning and evening. Surprisingly, I haven’t noticed the cicadas, who start singing when temperatures rise to 25 C (77 F), the music of summer around here. Yesterday, we were at 34 C (93 F) and today we are supposed to hit 38 C  (100 F).

 

20 thoughts on “Mini Motos

  1. My laptop is suffering from heat stress, getting slower and slower. My husband really wants a Twizy and exclaims ‘There’s a Twizy!’ every time one drives by, which is starting to sound a bit OC. Motos are fine, if the owners maintain the exhaust baffles and don’t habitually drive them desperately bent over trying to extract more than maximum speed. However, in the big cities, it’s not a question of if you will have an accident, but when, if you ride a moto.

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  2. HA! I had to go translate the weather report… when I came back I saw what I had missed (slow this morning). Your weatherman has a good sense of humor! I love the moto colors! I had a hard time deciding which color I liked best. In the end it was a toss up between the mint green or the coral. I see a lot of the stylish variety here but never a moto.

    However, I loved the Twizzy! Economical to power, protection from the rain, room for my Groceries, etc. However, where I live I would drive it in fear of the farmers. I am certain, that if they saw me on the road, they would come out en masse and spray the living daylights out of me, or perhaps run me over in one of their big trucks mistaking me for a small predator.

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  3. I once thought about buying a Honda scooter to commute in, in-town, until I realized that my area has no road shoulders and everyone else is driving gigantic SUVs, which are trucks with fancy bodies. The Twizy looks fun, though. Perhaps if it succeeds in the marketplace, the price will come down. Would love to have a plug-in car.
    I like the red scooter in your first picture. The pink and grey one, #3, looks like it’s posing for a glam shot.

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  4. I love the romance of buzzing around on scooters but the noise! Would electric mopeds be quieter at least? I’d feel safer in a Twizy for sure but wonder how much protection they’d really provide in an accident.

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  5. I’d love a Twizy. Got rid of my car last year and do not miss it at all, but could imagine pootling about in a Twizy, very happy, with my bags in the back. I have never seen one here in UK but who knows? Weather here has been very warm for the past few days but is cooling now, with a westerly breeze that is welcome. Maybe it is too hot for cicadas?

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    1. I heard the cicadas yesterday afternoon. Maybe it was just too early in the year for them.
      Lucky you to get rid of your car. We are too far from town. I looked into bike routes but it would take over an hour each way☹️ and the bus schedule is very thin. My solution is to move but it’s a fight.

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  6. Seeing all those mopeds gave me a good chuckle and zapped me back to my introduction to the Mobylette when I was 15, and cruising around with French friends in Normandy. (Omg. The strange ways that memories come flooding back.)

    The candy colors are super cool! The canicule – definitely not so much.

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  7. San Antonio is overrun with scooters people leave anywhere and everywhere, and I don’t like them. The people who rent them seem to think they have the right of way and pay no attention to pedestrians or motorists, and our accident rate has risen. The City Council is “studying the problem” which probably means we won’t hear anything further until there’s a catastrophic accident they can no longer ignore.

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