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If you haven’t heard, Paris is a pretty big city – definitely not meant for walking, unless you want to see only a small fraction of it. And who wants to choose between Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower? That’s why Vicky and I jumped on an opportunity to do a bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours.
This may sound crazy, but after 9 months in Asia, Vicky and I were really looking forward to doing some tours in major European capitals. In our former travels we’ve done this several times; Madrid, Amsterdam, Prague to name a few and they’re always winners. The tour guides are captivating, the stories are unique and interesting, and the itinerary is solid. Luckily, this one was no exception.
We met Andrew, our guide, outside the Eiffel Tower at the South entrance and were split into two groups. After getting our bikes and receiving some instructions about roadside safety (Andrew calls it the “power of the palm” which is a little bit like signaling “Hell No!” with your hands), we set off in a group of about 20 bikers. It was kind of like Hell’s Angels, but not quite as intimidating.
You have to have the right expectations when you do a tour. You’re not actually going to go in any of the buildings. So although you might see the Louvre, you’re going to have to dedicate another day to actually go inside. That said I prefer to spend a few hours orienting myself with the city and getting a bit of a history lesson from a local before diving right in and missing everything completely. Also, Paris is pretty flat and the biking is smooth; there were people of all ages in our tour group and the bikes were far superior to the death traps we’ve been riding around on the last 9 months.
Andrew was excellent, very animated and knowledgeable. The key is to treat every tour like it’s your first, that way we feel like he’s as interested in talking to us as we are interested in hearing. He was good about adding in the tidbits that you can’t get from Wikipedia or really any other source unless you already know what to look for. We got the lowdown on the Louises, movie references and more! I won’t spoil it but they’re the facts you actually remember from a tour – not X being founded by Y on Z.
The tour is a few hours long and takes you right back to the Eiffel Tower so you can pick up where you left off with plenty of the afternoon left. Lunch is not included. The tours run all year long, even in the winter.
Overall I have no reservations recommending this tour. If I have one complaint it’s that although the company had plenty of helmets, they didn’t really call them to our attention or force people to wear them and as a result no one did (personally I wasn’t aware they had helmets until AFTER the tour). What can I say, it’s a major metropolitan city and I think we should adhere to proper bike safety – it’s in both parties’ best interest. Other than that though A+!
Disclaimer: In return for this review Vicky and I received a complementary bike tour. However, all views expressed are entirely our own and we never compromise our integrity for a free tour!