Paris: Bike About Tours

Nov 17 2012

Ah, Paris.

We loved the Eiffel Tower at dusk.

And the boat tour on the Seine.

And the crépes and cafés and croissants.

And the art. Of course the art.

And, even though it physically pains me to admit it in public like this, we had a fabulous day at Disneyland Paris.

But when people ask me for my #1 favourite part of our trip, I keep saying the bike tour. Which is funny because I was somewhat hesitant to book it.

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Bike About Tours
www.bikeabouttours.com

Now, I love biking and forcing encouraging my kids to bike so I researched bike tours early in our Paris planning. Unfortunately, I learned via my research that biking in Paris is difficult with its small streets and tight traffic and also that it’s a tiny bit treacherous, dangerous, and a sure way to die an untimely death. I reluctantly struck the idea off my list.

Just a week before we left, though, the idea was resurrected by Katherine, a friend-of-a-friend who’s a resident of Paris and works with an English-speaking bike tour outfit. Take a Bike About Tour, she said. It’s fantastic, she said. You’ll get a lot of insider tips and the layout of the city, she said. And I was hooked. Danger schmanger!

Now let’s go ahead and get the first of my two great disappointments about the bike tour out of the way.

Disappointment #1: Biking with Bike About Tours wasn’t at all dangerous. Not even somewhat. No rush of fear. No close calls with giant trucks. Nothing. Almost as if the tour company planned their route through quaint, pleasant, quiet back-streets on purpose. There was only one moment, in fact, that even resembled a potential accident when Greg hollered, “Hey, Abby! Look over there!” and she did look over there and proceeded to run into the barrier in front of her. Sadly, she immediately dissolved into laughter so we didn’t have any chance to worry at all.

That disappointment aside, Katherine was right to recommend the tour for the beginning of our trip. With teenagers, it was the perfect start. We covered a wide swath of the city and took in major sites on an easy, flat jaunt with frequent stops.

Biking by the Seine to Notre Dame?

Check.

Through the courtyard of the Louvre?

The best part! And check.

Our tour guide, David, peppered the tour with equal parts history, insider tips, personal stories, and fun, quirky facts. He gave Paris personality and made her our friend.

Which brings me to the second of our disappointments.

Disappointment #2: We loved our 3.5-hour Paris tour so much that we reworked our itinerary to accommodate their more expensive 8-hour Versailles Tour. It was fantastic, too, which meant I couldn’t complain about the money later. 🙁

Now, Greg and I have been to Versailles twice on our own. It’s really not hard to get to the royal country home by train, and finding the estate is simple. On our previous trips, we saw the chateau and part of the gardens and considered the day a success. With Bike About Tours, though, we saw the chateau,

biked through extensive parts of the gardens,

toured Marie Antoinette’s village,

shopped at a flea market, and took a leisurely lunch of food market finds — bread, cheese and wine — by the lake.

In other words, we did more than we could possibly have done on our own and all of it was easy, fun, and delicious.

Here’s a big shout-out to Bike About Tours. Thanks for making our trip memorable and raising the bar to excellent.

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P.S. To be clear, Bike About Tours isn’t paying me for this spot. I’m a regular tourist who paid the regular fees and took the fantastic tour(s) and am thrilled to recommend them to you.

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P.P.S. What’s your serendipitous vacation moment? Something you didn’t see coming but made your trip memorable? You know, like the time my friends went on their honeymoon to Mexico and he had an emergency appendectomy so they got to stay an extra week. Or the time Abby got stung by a jellyfish and I stood on the beach yelling at her brother to pee on her. So. What’s your story? What’ve you got?

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