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France’s first bicycle-hearse brings ‘softness’ to funerals

The ‘corbicyclette’ is shaking up the French funeral business by transporting coffins to the cemetery on a bicycle, a quiet, eco-friendly alternative to the traditional hearse

The corbicyclette is black, in keeping with tradition, with natural wood for a “warm and comforting” aspect Pic: Nicolas Giquel

A Paris funeral home has become the first in France to offer services using a bicycle. 

The corbicyclette, from the French for hearse (corbillard) and bicycle, uses an electric-assisted bike to transport the coffin to the cemetery. 

Isabelle Plumereau, founder of Le Ciel & La Terre, said she wanted to make the grieving process “more soft and poetic”. 

Credit: Nicolas Giquel

Loved ones can walk alongside the coffin while “listening to the wind and birds” and holding on to bars along the side. 

“When you see people who are already sad taking exhaust fumes in the face, it’s a double penalty,” she said. 

Similar vehicles exist in the US, the Netherlands and Denmark, but Ms Plumereau had to adapt the concept to France’s regulations, which state that the coffin must be hidden. The coffin is, therefore, enclosed in an opaque compartment. 

Credit: Nicolas Giquel

Ms Plumereau has been pleasantly surprised by the interest. 

“In France, I have often felt rather alone with my ideas,” she said. “I think society is ready to evolve.” 

The service will soon be available in Paris and surrounding areas, though each request will be assessed. 

“Hills are a considerable obstacle.”

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