France's capital city of Paris is widely recognised as one of the most romantic places in the world, so it was perhaps inevitable that the four lucky French riders selected for the #SocialTestride would fall in love with the new BMW C evolution when the travelling e-scooter circus came to their home town...
The fun started early on the morning of Saturday 24 May at the prestigious BMW Brand Store on Avenue Georges V, just off the Champs-Élysées. Arriving to enjoy breakfast and coffee, the quartet of keen riders had the usual 'meet and greet' from the #SocialTestride team and following a quick briefing, it was time for action – and a few culinary highlights...
The #SocialTestride participants represented a good cross-section of powered two-wheeler ownership. Among them was Hervé Laurent – a passionate and committed electromobility convert, owner of several e-powered vehicles and the developer of his own e-scooter prototype. He was joined by scooter and motorcycle owners Leo Trevisan, Paul Tran and Nicolas Bischoff, all with daily commutes in and out of the Parisian region and most interested in finding out how to move around the French capital in a more sustainable way.
Their expert guide for the day was Gilles Dronneau, a BMW enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge of the city and the C evolution, having been involved with the e-scooter’s recent press launch activity. His promise was a simple one: to show the riders – and film crew – as many of the city's hotspots that could be squeezed into an enjoyable day's riding.
Equipped with smartphones to photograph and post pictures on Instagram for all the friends and followers worldwide to see, a grand total of seven BMW C evolutions hit the streets of Paris. Jumping on the back the two spare e-scooters was a photographer and journalist. After all, what better way to document the story, while slicing through the traffic?
A journey through Paris is comparable to an assault on the senses, with incredible buildings towering high above the streets, a different character to each of the city's 20 neighbourhoods (arrondissements) and a traffic system with its own set of rules (there are none!) Visitors are awestruck by the presence of so many historic and modern monuments that are strikingly familiar – even to those that have never been there before – as they will have seen them many times in the movies and on TV.
France is the most visited tourist destination in the world, and with most people heading for the capital, it's no surprise that the names of the world famous landmarks literally roll off the tongue: Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur, Opéra, the Louvre: the list is almost endless. All these places were visited by the C evolution riders of course – and many more – but being a French #SocialTestride, gastronomy was bound to play a part somewhere down the line.
Lunch was taken at the famous Dôme du Marais restaurant on the Rue des Francs Bourgeois. Inside, owner and e-scooter fan Cedric Munier received the group and explained his sustainable philosophy as a restaurateur, the importance of knowing where all his ingredients come from and the practice of sourcing them locally, to avoid unnecessary 'road' or 'air' miles... True to his word, he jumped on one of the C evolution e-scooters and accompanied the group to a local fresh food market to show just how this is done.
Even the arrival of heavy rain couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of the #SocialTestriders, who covered around 90 kilometres in and out of the city and suburbs throughout the day. In fact, in the Bois de Boulogne neighbourhood, the rain was actually a useful and welcome distraction, as tour guide Gilles was able to demonstrate the ABS and traction control functions and then encourage the riders to experiment with these hi-tech innovations on the slippery Parisian streets – showing just how much emphasis has gone into producing a safe, as well as sustainable, riding experience.
From Autoroute to Boulevard, Avenue to Rue, the Parisian #SocialTestride offered the participants and crew the complete riding experience on board the C evolution. Pillion passengers were carried at times, all four selectable riding modes were tried and many questions were fielded throughout the day from tourists at every pedestrian crossing, fellow scooter and motorcycle riders at traffic lights and even bus and taxi drivers. Only the car drivers seemed to remain impartial, 'cocooned' as they were in their steel boxes, oblivious to most things around them and only noticing the white, green and black machines gliding silently past them and cutting through the traffic with ease.
By the time the #SocialTestride arrived at Chez Moustache – a gem of a restaurant on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud close to Place de La République – they had spent over 10 hours enjoying this electrified Paris experience. But as there was still much to discuss, it was time to sample yet another fantastic meal. This time, it was served up by the talented guys at Chez Moustache, who after a number of years in the food and entertainment business, decided to step out on their own.
It was almost at the stroke of midnight when the C evolutions were returned to the BMW Brand Store and, with German efficiency, were loaded into a transporter by logistical and technical coordinator Sigi Scherm in preparation for their journey to Barcelona – the location for the next #SocialTestride.
That's two down and three to go, so it's “Adieu Paris” and “Hola Barcelona” – we'll see you at the weekend.
Watch some video highlights from the #SocialTestride Paris on this website.