Paris by Night.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A great way to see city quickly while learning about the history from a professional guide is doing a bike tour. I had gone on a day tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours a few years ago on my first trip to Paris, and had such a good time that I jumped at the chance for round two! Rather than doing the same one over again, we opted for the night tour for something different and maaaaaaaybe also because it included an hour-long cruise on the Seine accompanied by free wine. Having done both the day tour and the night tour now, I can say that they are two completely different experiences! 

Before gearing up for our 4-hour tour, we plopped once again on the Champ de Mars for some pre-biking fuel. Paris-style...

Baguette for carbs, cheese and meat for protein, and wine for liquid courage to get on a bicycle for the first time in years. (Don't fret, it was a half-sized bottle of wine...too much liquid courage + wheels = bad.)

A quick 10 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, the Fat Tire offices have water bottles for sale, free bathrooms, and plenty of people around to help get you sorted for your ride! After picking out your bike, you get allocated to a colour and a group where your guide introduces themselves and puts you at ease for the night ahead!

I found the main difference between the day tour and the night tour is that the day tour focuses on doing a lot of stops and squeezing in lots of history, while the night tour puts an equal emphasis on history and just having fun. A quick 30 minute ride past sights like École Militaire and Les Invalides, our first stop was on one of Paris' two natural islands, Île Saint-Louis for the best ice cream Paris has to offer, Berthillon. Before departing for Paris, Rach had one request: "we must go to the ice cream place." She had been taken here previously by her roommate had had been dreaming of revisiting it for 3 years, so needless to say she was thrilled to see it on our tour itinerary! While slurping our second sugary treat of the day (calories don't count on vacation), we listened to our guide's stories about the real estate of the island and the famous ice cream, before wheeling a few minutes further to the front of Notre Dame for more tidbits. 

Night tour = mandatory and necessary reflective vests. Try not to be too jealous.

3 hours of wheelin' around later, you end up along the bank of the Seine as the sun begins to set and board one of the massive river boats. After 8.2 miles of cycling, you get to sit back, relax and have your fill of complimentary wine.

The tour guides will try and get the best spot on the top of the boat, but if the crowds surge and you wind up on the sides of the bottom the views are still spectacular!

Pro tip...don't get too carried away and go all Midnight in Paris strolling along the river after your tour unless you aren't far from your accommodation. Rach and I decided to "yolo" and go socialise with the locals out on the riverbank for our last night in the city until I caught the Eiffel Tower doing its signature 1am sparkle, quickly snapping us back to reality of the metro closing soon and being about 4.5 miles from our AirBnb. I'm not too trusting of Parisian taxis after my last visit and we managed to get slightly closer to home before the metro closed for the night, but we definitely earned the following morning lie-in!

Are you a fan of bike tours? 

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