I met Juan Osorio last month while enjoying lunch at La Marine with Lynn. I noticed Juan's really cool bicycle and struck up a conversation with him. He owns his own bicycle messenger service and I thought it would be interesting to get his unique perspective of the city via his bicycle. I also thought it would be a most appropriate interview because of the upcoming Tour de France, starting on Saturday July 3 and finishing in Paris Sunday July 25 on the Champs Elysees.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Mexico city in 1974, but grew up various places all over the world : Mexico City, Brasilia, El Salvador, Moscow, Tunisia... (my father was a Brazilian diplomat). Then, I studied in different places too like Montréal, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid...
When and why did you move to Paris?
I moved to Paris in 1995 to study (Spanish literature and Urbanism). Why ? Because I got married to a french girl.
How did you start your company?
Studying for my post graduation (displacement in Paris), I contacted a bike messenger company in Paris. I just enjoyed it too much. I discovered a real life style : ride a bike hard and and get money at the same time. It was for me ! At the first occasion, I started Cycl'air with a partner.
Did you ever cycle professionally and/or compete in tournaments?
No, never, I just always liked biking.
What kind of bicycle do you ride and what do you recommend for people to buy to get around most quickly in Paris?
I ride a track bike (fixed gear) but it's a bike for people that already know how to ride in a big city. For those people, I recommend it. For others, they can start with a vélib !!
What tips do you have for people bicycling in Paris, especially safety tips?
To ride safe, you have to be careful with motorbikes and taxis.
What do you think about the Velib bicycle system and do you think it has affected bike sales in Paris?
I think that vélib is a revolutionary service. It has to be improved but it's a very good start from a car or a bike towards bicycling. Thanks to the vélib, people started to buy their own bikes, so I think it was a good thing for the bike sales in Paris.
What’s the top speed you ride at in Paris?
About 55 km/h on rue de Rivoli.
What’s the one thing we should know about what you do that we would never think of?
When you're a real bike messenger (riding real well and knowing the city perfectly), our job seems to us like a fun game. Just look at the smile on our face, despite the toughness of our work, we really enjoy it!
What’s the most difficult and/or unusual item you ever transported?
Diamonds to the Place Vendôme.
Say I wanted to cycle from Montmartre to Montparnasse station. What would be the fastest route?
If you start at Sacré Coeur : Rue Chevallier de P. Cottin,Rue P. Albert, Rue Rosnard, Rue Sevestre, Bd Rochechourt, Rue de Dunkerke, Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, Rue Poissonnière, Rue de Cléry, Rue du Louvre, Rue de l'Amm. de Colligny, Quai F. Mitterand, Pont des Arts, Quai Malaquais, Rue des Saint Pères, Rue de Sèvres, Bd Raspail, Rue de Rennes and Rue de l'Arrivée!
What do you prefer about Paris?
It's endless nights... on a bike.. all over the city...
Juan's company is Cycl'air. www.cyclair.net
Thanks so much for all of your kind, generous, and encouraging emails and comments for my 4th anniversary.
Coming soon: Eye Prefer New York Tours
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte’s professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 195 euros for up to 3 people, and 65 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com