On your bike for Paris cycling festival

Berets and baguettes are at the ready for a cycling event with a difference, says Anna McKittrick

France is a nation that loves cycling; whether it’s hopping on a Vélib’ in Paris, donning Lycra and heading out on a weekend bike ride or simply watching the Tour de France, it’s a sport that grips the public.

So, it’s no surprise that Ride Béret Baguette has become an annual institution since it started in Paris in 2009. The event is inspired by London’s Tweed Run and sees retro bike enthusiasts dress up in vintage clothes from the 1920s and 1930s as they cycle through the streets of the capital.

The creators wanted to relive the golden age of cycling when bikes were used to deliver newspapers, and weekends were spent exploring the countryside on two wheels. Last year’s event attracted more than 1,000 cyclists, who happily embraced the obligatory retro dress code. There is no restriction on the type of bike you ride, but many choose an older model to complement their period outfits.

Australian expatriate Lauren Lou Bate, who documents her Parisian adventures on the blog Folies du Bonheur, went to Ride Béret Baguette last year and is looking forward to going again. “It has been my favourite event in the city to date. Everyone was just out for a very pleasant weekend promenade. My advice to anyone wishing to take part is to do it properly. Dress up, arrange to hire a bike the day before and pack a picnic basket. If you’re not the dressing-up kind, find out the route and hang out towards the end to see the outfits, the bikes – there was a man on a penny farthing last year – and take in the atmosphere without actually riding,” says Lauren.

Yoann Saludes, one of the organisers, says it is suitable for cyclists of all levels: “Even beginner riders can enjoy getting together for the weekend, dressing well and forgetting about the buzz of city life.”

The 2014 event is being held on 24-25 May and begins at Place de la Sorbonne on the Saturday afternoon with La Caravane du Béret Baguette, a showcase of retro bikes and vintage clothing. The bike ride takes place on the Sunday; it follows a ten-kilometre route from Place de la Sorbonne and finishes with a picnic in Bois de Vincennes. For more details on the route visit: www.beret-baguette.fr.