Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Velib resto - "La Maison Velib"

Velib, the Paris bike-sharing program, has opened a restaurant, in conjunction with the healthy restaurant Exki earlier in 2014. It looked very interesting and I thought the concept was novel.

A few days ago, when I had to buy a new iPhone (thanks 5s for dying before Christmas), I spied the Masion Velib Exki outside the back of the bank-turned-Apple-store.

After dropping 709€ (sans plan) we headed around the corner to check it out. The first thing I noticed was the amazing smells from the moment we walked in. YUMMMMMMM!!!!! On our left and straight ahead were counters where delicious looking and smelling, fresh, healthy food was being prepared.

My 5-yr. old son noticed the bicycle seats with pedals right away. He wanted to try them out and we noticed iPads set into wood "tree" poles. So you can pedal away, zoning out on an iPad while eating... This impressed me as a significant statement on our culture and times these days.

There were two Velib bikes parked in the entrance, creating the line for people to order and barrier to the restaurant. There were bornes (terminals) where one could check their Velib account or do other Velib business. I liked the red phone where you could call into what must be a secret Velib office to file a complaint or speak about other Velib-related business.

I did have a few disappointments regarding the actual dining experience. When I first heard about this concept restaurant I had some naïve impression one could actually ride their bike up to a Take Out window, order and then bike off. I also thought Velib wasted an opportunity to have an actual Velib station in front of the restaurant. And, wouldn't it be cool if there were cafe tables outside (like so many other Paris cafés) where people could ride up to the restaurant, stay on their bikes (sit on their bike) and eat at an appropriate-height table, and then ride away (like a Sonic or those 1950s drive-ins).

When my wallet fills up again I'll head over another time and try it, even if I have to take the Metro and go inside!