Cycling around Paris may not be top of everyone’s list of things to do on a short break in Paris but as long as you can ride a bike, it’s a brilliant way to take in the city’s top landmarks without the hassle of public transport, queuing, buying tickets and the risk of getting lost in a big city.
What’s more, your guide is at the ready to share historic as well as little known fun facts to make your experience all the more personal. Having now experienced a Blue Bike tour not only do I understand why it is one of the most popular attractions in Paris, but I am now a huge convert.
It was a cold December day when my husband and I took the tour, and we were more than a little worried that the weather would dampen our spirits. How wrong we were. The sun shone all day and our thoughtful tour guide Hava had weatherproof jackets, gloves and hats to protect us should it rain. Although each cycling tour takes up to 10 people, Hava had gone out of her way to accommodate us during this out-of-season period, so we felt lucky to have her as a private guide.
We’d left our three boys at the home on this trip to Paris, but I soon wished they were with us, as the tour is ideal for kids of all ages with easy-to-use bikes as well as tandem attachments for those too young to pedal alone
We learnt from Hava that with more than 700 kilometres of bike lanes, Paris is quickly becoming a cyclist’s paradise and – bearing in mind we never cycle on roads – my husband and I felt totally safe throughout the tour.
After a quick trial of our bikes and a few safety rules, we set off cycling alongside the River Seine listening as Hava explained the history of the city. Our tour took us past landmarks including The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and The Louvre with Hava filling us in on local secrets, such as how to access the shortcut into the Louvre, saving two hours of waiting time.
This tour also includes a snack break at the famous rue Cler outdoor market. It’s full of the best French foods, and we were persuaded by Hava to try a traditional French hot chocolate and croissant, happy in the fact we would soon burn off the calories with our four-hour cycle ride.
We were touring the city with Blue Bike Tours, a family-run business offering guided tours of the most beautiful monuments and hidden treasures Paris has to offer. You meet with the guide inside the Gare d’Austerlitz train station in front of platform #21, next to the “Toilettes” (restrooms). There are usually three tours daily, but by reservation only: 10am, 3pm (day tours) and 7:30pm (night tour) and the tour lasts for three and a half hours.
There is so much to take in and enjoy on the tour that you quite honestly do not realise the hours passing by. It was only when we reached the Eiffel tower that we noticed the sun setting, creating a magical backdrop for our photographs. Cycling through the most romantic city in the world is quite simply a wonderful way for all the family to experience Paris and will have you feeling like a local in no time.
Why go It’s a truly ideal way to explore Paris for adults and children as you can view all the famous landmarks in a short amount of time without the hassles of negotiating public transport. Once you have seen the sites, simply plan the rest of your stay according to what you would like to go back and visit.
Who is it best for All ages, provided you have a basic knowledge of cycling (and are confident with a baby seat onboard your bicycle, if you have young children). Blue Bike Tours use United Cruiser bikes for all adult riders, and for smaller cyclists they have the options of standard street bikes, as well as tandem attachments and hand kid bikes, trailers and even some bike seats for the littlest ones.
Top Tip Book a private tour when riding as a family – the tour guides have children of their own, and by booking a private tour, they can plan the ride according to the best routes and bike paths for children – an option that’s available if you book a private tour.
Our favourite bit Being given insights into the history of the city from an experienced guide.
Don’t go If your child is at an in-between stage where they want to do everything, but can’t quite master it yet. You are likely to end up trying to listen to the guide above the scream of your frustrated three-year-old sitting in front of you who wants his own bike! Ensure your child is comfortable riding in a bike seat with you or on their own bicycle before you go. They will love it if they can ride, but otherwise it will be a bit of a gamble.
While You’re There Encourage your children to ask lots of questions of the guide – this will save you from all the “why” “how” “what” questions later on in your stay (or at the very least, arm you with the knowledge to answer them!).