We all rode bikes as kids right? So, it’s a bit like breathing you never forget how. Although if you haven’t ridden for a while, a quick practice run before cycling through Paris is recommended – just to make sure your coordination and balance is on track.
This night bike ride is designed for all fitness levels and cycling through Paris at sunset certainly beats looking out of a bus window!
For first timers to Paris, it’s a great idea to go on an evening or daytime Fat Bike Tour before you start exploring on your own. Although the tours aren’t long enough to go into all places of interest visited, you do get you a broad overview of the city.
The day afterwards (calves permitting) you’ll have the chance to delve deeper into the history and food culture of the magnificent city of Paris with a greater understanding of its layout. Total night tour distances is approximately 13km.
Having been on a previously well organised ride with this experienced company it was an easy choice to go with them again.
Similar to my previous cycling tours (the Ancient Appian Way in Rome and Historical Singapore) we headed to the company’s headquarters. First, you meet the tour group at the exit of the Duplex Métro station and look for a person holding a ‘Fat Tire Tours’ sign. It’s then just a 5 minute walk to where the bikes and guides are waiting.
Important – Eat First
There is an ice-cream stop on the tour but you need to either eat a substantial snack before you start cycling, or take something for later, e.g. a baguette. The tour goes from 7 – 11.30pm and your stomach will be definitely rumbling half way through.
The café just across from the meeting point was beckoning and I ordered my usual cheese platter and glass of wine. What I hadn’t bargained on was half a cheese shop to arrive on a wooden board! (I was in 7th Heaven.)
At headquarters you’re issued with a suitable bike, a hi-vis vest and helmet if you want one – they aren’t compulsory in Paris for adults.
If the weather is looking a bit damp, ponchos can be bought for one Euro which is refundable if not used. Water can also be bought.
The variety of bikes is huge and range in sizes from young children to very tall adults. There’s definitely a comfortable bike for everyone.
After selecting your bike, the all important road and safety instructions follow plus several hand signals your trusty guide will be using – then off into the traffic you go.
Tip – you will be cycling on the wrong side of the road. (Well the right side according to Parisians!)
Paris peak hour traffic isn’t as scary as it sounds. The roads are quite congested meaning that cars are travelling slowly, although there were a few impatient cabbies and cranky drivers who definitely weren’t lovers of cycling tourists!
Our tour guide expertly guided us through the tough traffic and crazy intersections – at all times keeping us safe and alert with hand signals. The ride was exciting – adrenalin kicked in and we (well me) found our confidence.
A huge bonus of the Fat Bike Tours are the guides who enjoy sharing the history, stories and little known facts of Paris that you never find in a brochure. In other words, the local goss (old and new) that everyone loves!
What you see on Tour:
The Latin Quarter:
Cycle through the Latin Quarter and see lots of the best nightlife in town. (You do need to keep your eyes on the bike in front while sightseeing just in case they stop and you don’t!)
Pedal past Notre Dame, one of the world’s most famous cathedrals. Learn about its history, the purpose of the flying buttresses and how the city of Paris began on this little island.
The Louvre Museum
Cycle around the courtyard of this magnificent historic building at sunset for a surreal experience. Just think, you’ll be travelling over the same ground as many past Kings – although they were on a horse not a bike.
Arc de Triomphe
Yes, you really do cycle under and around the Arc de Triomphe – another “pinch me” moment in your life.
Berthillon Ice Cream
The Berthillon Ice Cream shop is a welcome stop and you will be faced with 20 different flavours of this world famous delight!
Cash is needed for this treat as it isn’t included in the tour price -malso be prepared to wait in a queue. The salted caramel ice-cream cone was to die for and won hands down as the firm favourite!
Our guide stopped on the bridge between the Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Cite to allow us to slowly enjoy every lick of the devine ice-cream and also provide more interesting snippets on the early history of Paris.
Pont de Arts
Cross over the pedestrian Pont des Arts bridge that links the Louvre to the south bank of the River Seine. This infamous bridge is now minus the 45 tonnes of lovers locks that were attached to the railings! You’ll remember how the weight of all this loving made the bridge weak? Locks were removed and Perspex installed to stop any more declarations of life long love and danger of bridge collapse? Although…wherever you are in Paris, there is always a bridge, gate or fence sporting a defiant padlock by couples declaring their eternal love.
Seine River Cruise and French Wine
With legs starting to get tired, the final stop is down to the edge of the River Seine. Here you climb aboard one of the large river boats (bateaux) for some scenic relaxation.
Sit back, glass of complimentary French wine in hand (refillable) you sail past the Hotel de Ville, Musee d’Orsay, the imposing Eiffel Tower and have the chance to admire truly amazing iconic architecture along both banks.
Wave to everyone on the banks, quays and bridges (some trying to attach more locks!) and take another 100 photos for your memory bank.
The sun sets and the sparking “City of Light” (La Ville Lumière), turns on, a once seen, never forgotten, romantic show – definitely the tour highlight.
- Company – Fat Tire Bike Tours
- Cost for Night Bike Tour – Euros 44 – ($66 AUD)
- Length of tour – 4 hours departing at 7 pm
- Distance travelled – 13km
- No need to pre-book, but I always do!
- Choose whichever bike suits you at the headquarters. (There’s a huge range to suit all size/age)
- Helmet available but not required by law in Paris.
- Water and poncho available for purchase at headquarters
- Covered shoes recommended
- Take cash for ice-cream stop
- Take camera (Phone)
- Check out the company website for huge range of walking, Segway and drive/cycle tours.
- For general travel tips, why not visit “Gypsy A-Z of Travel Tips“.
Quand allez-vous faire du vélo à Paris?