What do Little Trekkers do when they visit a city? Jump on a bike, of course! In the summer of 2019 we took the boys, aged 6 and 8, to Paris for the first time. We all know that visiting cities can be exhausting with lots of walking between sights. Paris can get pretty hot in the summer too, so we didn’t want to be walking too much or jumping in and out of the metro as well as our kids suffering from sight-seeing ennui.
I came across a great tour company, Fat Tire Tours, who run family-friendly bike tours in the city. They describe their Paris Day Bike Tour as a great way to get an introduction to the city, and they were absolutely right.
At a cost of €32 per child, and €34 per adult, we went in with high expectations for the advertised three-hour tour.
The minimum age to take part is 4 years old. They provide tag-along bikes for younger and less-confident riders. Our two rode a bike each – the 6yo on a 20” and the 8yo on a 24”. They were city-bike style which took a bit of getting used to until they realised how stable they were and started practicing cycling with no hands! The company also provide helmets for all riders – mandatory for the under 12’s; adults are allowed to make their own choice. We chose to wear ours – why take the risk?!?
The group size was 19 and included a number of kids. This initially felt really large, but we quickly got used to it. Our boys always zoomed to the front of the group as we were cycling anyway, so we took advantage of their enthusiasm and stayed up the front too.
Our tour was run by Jack, an English bloke who’d lived in Paris for around 3 years. He really knew his stuff and was supremely confident on the roads. The trick about cycling as a group in Paris is all down to confidence. Sticking in the cycle lanes where possible, and following the tour leader, no vehicle is going to mess with a group of 20 cyclists riding in formation!
Did you know that Paris is actually a very bike-friendly city? The area we cycled round had plenty of dedicated cycle paths, cycle-friendly parks and lovely routes along the river. It’s also remarkably flat!
The aim of the tour was to show us a few key sights of the city and tell us some of Paris’s turbulent history along the way. I thought the kids might switch off from the history, but Jack told such a good story that they were completely engaged – learning about the Sun King, Louis IX and the short, angry Emperor Napoleon. MrP and I learnt (or were reminded of) plenty too!
On our bike tour we ticked off these key sights and a few others too:
- École Militaire
- Hôtel des Invalides
- Église de Dôme
- Place de la Concorde
- Jardin des Tuilleries (where we stopped for lunch)
- Eiffel Tower
- Pont Alexandre III
Top Tip: if you’re on a budget, pack your own lunch and have a picnic while the group eats at the café in the Jardin des Tuilleries
We also cycled along the Seine, spied the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée d’Orsay and saw the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. It really was a great way to get your bearings if you’ve never been to the city before, and an excellent way to have a new experience in the city even if you know Paris quite well.
We’ll definitely look to do a bike tour of a city again. What’s the best or most unusual city tour you’ve ever done? Does it beat the classic hop on – hop off bus tour?