Paris - Fat Tire Bike Tours

Yesterday, the day before the Tour de France was scheduled to arrive at the Place de la Concorde in Paris for it's finish victory lap, I decided, in honor of this event, to join an organized group of cyclists for a biking tour of Paris.

My group, led by Fat Tire Bike Tours, required us to meet under their Eiffel Tower with their Fat Tire representatives. The Fat Tire folks were easily identifiable by the sign they held up (photo enclosed) with the name of the company. Once the group was counted, registered and assigned to a color group, we were all walked down to the Fat Tire office just a few blocks away from The Champ de Mars (the park behind the Eiffel Tower) to get our bikes and pay for the tour before hitting the road.

Fat Tire offers several English guided bike tours a day led by University students from around the world. They also offer Segway and walking tours of Paris for those who prefer to walk or tour by motorized vehicle. For more information on these options, visit their website at www.FatTireTours.com.

At the Eiffel Tower, I was signed up and assigned to the yellow group. I did not need to make an advance reservation for this tour, I just showed up at the designated time and gave the Fat Tire Reps. my name to put on the list of riders for the 3pm tour. We were then divided into groups by color and led to the Fat Tire office a few blocks away to pick up our bikes.

At the office, we payed and got fitted for bikes. Then we met our assigned guide Karl, a friendly Kiwi who gave us a short safety introduction on the bikes and information about the upcoming ride. Pretty soon we were moving as a pack through the small streets of Paris following Karl, our energetic guide from down under.

Along the way, Karl stopped us repeatedly to provide us with quick historical sound bites and lots of entertaining historical trivia about Paris. Through him we learned that high heels were invented by King Louis XV, a man so vain that he wore them to accentuate his calf's. Check him out next time you see a painting of him in the Louvre. He's always flexing one calf! Karl also showed us the bullet holes on the walls of the Ecole Militaire made by the Allied forces during WWII and led us past the Hotel d'Invalids where the remains of Napoleon rest divided in several small boxes, one containing his heart and some cutlery, who knows why.

Our tour lasted about three hours and we pedaled leisurely and tightly as a group (24 cyclists) around the city stopping periodically for Karl's historical tid-bits. We "dominated" small streets, crossed ornate ancient bridges, walked through royal gardens and visited numerous monuments along the way with out a hitch. These guys are experts in keeping their group members cycling together and safe. Thanks Karl!

Bike tours are scheduled for the summer to meet under the Eiffel Tower at 3pm and at 8:30pm. Each one of these tours is different and they are both complimentary. I did both the same day - left the hotel at 2:30pm and returned by midnight. Read the descriptions of each tour in Fat Tires website and pick the tour you like best or sleep all day and catch the 8:30 pm tour that ends with a one hour guided boat ride on the Seine with Bateaux Mouches that includes free wine. A lovely way to see the city from the river at night.

Airline crew members receive a discount on Fat Tire's tours. Just tell them your are a crew member when you pay. I payed 24Euros for the first tour (discounted from 28Euros) and 16Euros for the second.

If you decide to go, wear a small backpack to carry your belongings. It makes your bike riding easier by freeing both your hands. Also, bring water and some snacks plus sun protection and a hat if it's a sunny day.

The rides are suitable for families and really any level of bike rider. It's a super easy and safe ride on flat roads the whole time. The bikes come in several sizes and are cruiser style, so they are comfortable and adjustable to your size.

You may reserve ahead via Fat Tire's Internet site or just show up under the Eiffel Tower at their designated times.

Enjoy your ride!

FAT TIRE BIKE TOURS - PARIS www.FatTireBikeTours.com www.CitySegwayTours.com www.ClassicWalksParis.com


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