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.
Bike About Tours
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?
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.
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.
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?
8 responses to “Paris: Bike About Tours”
I had never been to New York City so my hubby took me a year and a half ago for my birthday. We had gone to see a broadway show and went back to the hotel for the night when we turned on the news and found that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. We were staying near Times Square so we went out and found people streaming into the streets, news crews, everyone celebrating. We saw Rob Lowe. It was amazing to see that New York spirit-the fire trucks were rolling into the square just to park and be with everyone and the crowds were cheering for them.
What an amazing place to watch that news come in, Dena. Thanks for sharing your story. I love the bit about the fire trucks.
On our honeymoon in Hawaii, we toured the Road to Hana on the last day on Maui. You are (or were) supposed to turn around on the Road to Hana to come back but the map showed it went all the way around and didn’t even seem as windy so I decided that would be the way to go (even if it would violate our rental agreement! They must not have seen the map!). The back side of the road to Hana though hugged the sides of cliffs and was largely unpaved. It took waaaayyy longer than expected and we were late to our flight to Kaui. So sad for us because they had to upgrade us to first class for the next available flight! Granted it was about a 10 minute flight but first class! They gave us a hot towel! My husband had been so irritated at me for insisting we go the wrong way and making us late but it is one of our favorite memories from the trip.
Love this, Em. Hooray for a hot towel! 🙂 This is what my family of origin calls “an adventure.”
On my honeymoon in Scotland, we had pre-booked a rental car for the two weeks we were there. When we went to pick it up, however, we found out they wouldn’t rent automatic cars to people under 25. Apparently automatics are rare there. Well after a walk through Edinburgh in the rain and hours of waiting for the west coast to wake up, we got our original car refunded and went through a German company. The original car was a Ford Focus. The one we got, for hundreds of dollars cheaper, was an Audi A1. It was worth a twenty-minute walk in the rain.
Also, the one European bike tour I took was awesome. Hooray for Juniors Abroad!
Heh heh heh. An Audi is a WAY better car for someone under 25! Fun story, Rochelle.
Last summer at the beach when *our* daughter got stung by a jelly fish, the lifeguard tried to spray her with vinegar. She screamed, “I don’t want to smell like a salad!” and suffered thru the worst sting I’ve ever seen. It left a scab for about 6 months.
Oh my gosh, right?? Abby had scars that didn’t fade for a couple of YEARS. Jelly fish aren’t so friendly. Good to know your daughter has odor standards, though… I have a couple of kids who could learn from her. 😉