Here are some photos taken on our Fat Tire Bike Tour of Paris.
A week to wander around that amazing city. You might spend a day at the Louvre, touring its galleries, really taking the time to appreciate all of the masterpieces. Maybe you’d head over to the Eiffel tower and relax on the lawn as you watch other tourists gawking at the structure. Or maybe you’d just sit at that cute outdoor cafe near your hotel and enjoy a cafe au lait or two as you relax with that novel you started (but didn’t get very far with) on the plane ride over. You’re thinking to yourself that you should really get out to see Versailles, but hey, tomorrow is another day. There’s plenty of time for that. After all, you have a whole week in Paris!
You’ve worked hard and saved your money and by god you are going to actually take two of those three weeks of vacation time that you’ve earned and you are blowing them on one big trip. You are finally getting back to Europe after many years away and dammit, you are going to see as much of it as you possibly can! Life seems to be going by so fast and who knows when you are going to have the chance to go back again.
That’s the position I found myself in last year. After many years I was finally going back to Europe but I only had a limited amount of time to stay in Paris, basically, a day and a half. I know, a ridiculous amount of time to get anything done. It wasn’t on the original itinerary when my partner and I were planning the trip, but Paris got squeezed in when we found a cheap flight from Barcelona and a decent train fare from Paris to Amsterdam.
As we were planning the trip I came across a website for Paris bicycle tours: Fat Tire Bike Tours. For under $40 we could do a 4 hour evening bike ride through the streets of Paris with an English speaking guide. On the tour we’d pass by many of the the main “must see” attractions (important for us since David had never been to Paris) and then at the end of the ride we would wind up on a boat ride down the Seine at night.
I’m not a big biker. I don’t ride too regularly, and there was even a period of about ten years where I didn’t get on my bike once. These days I’ll pull out my ten speed a couple of times during the spring or summer and ride along Lake Michigan, but that’s about it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, it’s just that I have a real fear of riding in traffic. For me to get to the lake I need to ride about a mile through the streets. Cars scare me when I’m not in the protective cocoon of my Mazda. The more I read about the bike tour though, the more it sounded like a good idea. (Good enough even to ignore my traffic fear).
We met the tour leader, a sweet girl from the U.S., at the base of the Eiffel Tower late in the afternoon. From there she took our group of about 15 (mostly Americans with a few Canadians and a couple of english speaking Dutch) a few blocks away to the company headquarters where we were outfitted with our bikes. After a brief explanation of the rules and the route we would be taking we were off!
For the next few hours we rode through the streets of Paris passing the Eiffel Tower, the Academie Francaise, Notre Dame and other sites. We stopped on the Pont St. Louis and watched some street musicians perform while we enjoyed a scoop of ice cream from Berthillon’s. Throughout the tour our guide was always conscious of our safety and of making sure the entire group had a good time.
The crowds were all but gone and as we rode through the courtyard it felt as if we had it all to ourselves. Riding around the pyramid on my fat tire bike was an awesome experience. Then, at the end of the ride, when the sun had set, we all climbed onto a tour boat and road down the Seine. We toasted our group and our guide with a glass of wine as we approached the Eiffel Tower again, this time with all of it’s lights blazing.
If you only have a short period of time to spend in a city consider doing something like a bike tour. It’s a great way to see a lot of sites that you might have missed otherwise, and it can leave you with some really special memories.
If you are interested in seeing some of the photos from my Fat Tire Bike Tour, here is a link to the gallery.