I never know where to start so I'll start in the center. The exact center of Paris is a round metal plate set into the stonework of the plaza in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. Notre Dame is on the Ile de la Cite, an Island in the Seine River, with the left bank below it and the right bank above it. The left bank is traditionally associated with Bohemian Paris while the right bank has always been considered more up-scale. Picasso lived on the left bank when he was a young struggling artist then moved to the right bank once he had become famous. The sixteen districts (Arrondisements) which make up Paris spiral outward clock-wise from the Ile de la Cite so that Arrondisements one through eight abut on the river (two and three just miss by a little bit) and nine through sixteen form another layer around them. If you stay on the left bank in Arrondisement six, there is a nice walk which ends at BMW Motorrad Etoile, the BMW dealer in Paris, with a slight detour through the Ducati dealer.
From the sixth Arrondisement you cross the river at the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge which is the next bridge up river from the Pont Neuf, the bridge that connects the left bank with the Ile de la Cite. You cross into the first Arrondisement and walk to the left on the Quai des Tuileries. This takes you past the Louvre and immediatdly next to it the Tuileries Garden. At the Place de la Concorde where you will see the gold-tipped Obelisk you cross into the eighth Arr. and pick up the beginning of the Avenue des Champs Elysees. This is the nicest part of the Avenue since it is tree-lined on each side and there is not a lot of traffic. And you pass the Petit Palais, the Grande Palais and the Exhibition Center.
The Avenue soon becomes a major shopping venue, much like Fifth Avenue in New York City, but as you walk along you can always see the Arc de Triomphe ahead. It is located at the Place Charles de Gaule and honors the dead from the Great War. Just on the other side the Avenue des Champs Elysees becomes the Avenue de la Grande Armee, and two or three blocks away there is a concentration of motorcycle dealers. On a corner, at Number 22, is the Ducati dealer, but you don't have to read the numbers as there is any number of used and customer's bikes parked outside on the sidewalk. Inside, on the first floor, are examples of most of the current Ducatis, as well as several used, clean bikes. Downstairs is the boutique where you will find clothing, helmets, small accessories and a counter filled with things like pins and key fobs.
Across the street and two blocks farther is BMW Motorrad Etoile at 49 Avenue de la Grande Armee. This, too, is a two-level store with an array of motorcycles outside, most of the newer bikes on the first floor and the accessories downstairs. But there is also a small display on the first floor with two bikes which were used for racing, and between floors, behind glass, is an old, well-preserved single-cylinder BMW. An R27, perhaps? And, it seems at every BMW dealership, there is a video playing showing a BMW from the front, cranked over and moving fast.
It's nice to see these dealerships in another country to remind yourself of the universality of both brands. It's interesting if you can talk to a rider who lives in another country just to compare notes on a particular bike. When I was there in April, as I was leaving the BMW store it was raining hard and the rain was mixed in with small hail. There was a rider dressed in his gear and helmet waiting in the doorway, and all I could manage to say was "Bon chance" "Good Luck," and he nodded. We understood each other.
It is tempting to buy something but the exchange rate is so poor if you have exchanged dollars for euros that it would be better to wait until you get home.
22 Avenue de la Grande Armee
You get an idea of how limited space is...
49 Avenue de la Grande Armee
Two former racers
Everything new is old again
I would have liked to have bought this jacket
And BMWs of all sorts can be found in Paris
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