While planning our itinerary for Paris with kids, I kept hearing about an English-language, Paris-based tour company that goes around on bikes. My family loves exploring cities by bike (you may remember how we gushed about Bike ‘n Roll in the States), so we contacted Fat Tire Tours and set up a morning with them.
We chose to try their Paris Day Bike Tour, which has been a staple at the company since 1999. The tour is 3.5 hours, and covers a lot of ground. After several days of hoofing it around Paris, it was a welcome relief to be on two wheels. The Paris Day Bike Tour is designed to give visitors an overview of the area around the Eiffel Tower, Concorde, and Invalides. We took the tour on Day 3, and but while we’d seen the Eiffel Tower from afar and walked around the Louvre area, most of the stops were brand new to us.
The tour started at 9 am. After booking online, we were sent an email confirmation with instructions on where to meet the group. It was easy to find the Metro station indicated, but we almost ended up being late when we stood in the wrong place and somehow didn’t notice the group gathering. Doh! Once we were on the right track, one guide led the large group of about 25 people to Fat Tire’s office, where we could stash backpacks if needed, buy water, use the restroom, and get fitted for bikes. I worried at this point that our group would be too large to be manageable, but I shouldn’t have feared. Once we were all on bikes, the group was broken down to about 8 people per guide.
We set out within about 25 minutes, and rode primarily on streets, following our guide, with breaks from traffic on some bike paths and while on car-free paths along the Seine. While we did need to pay close attention to our guide while navigating the streets, it was easy to follow instructions and I never felt unsafe. Our kids were old enough to ride solo and follow instructions, but young kids are also welcome, as Fat Tire Tours has bikes with child seats available. I’d venture to say kids under age 5 would have a hard time in the traffic, and should be in bike seats.
Our guide Nick was British, living in Paris, and he was a wealth of information with a fun and lively personality. The kids were always interested in his commentary as he described Paris history through the various stops at historical buildings, churches, and bridges. I appreciated that Nick didn’t ‘dumb down’ the information for children. Even when the commentary was geared more to adults, there was always the novelty of riding the bikes through the city to keep kids entertained.
I learned a great deal about some buildings I otherwise would have passed by in Paris, and Nick was able to provide advice on where else to go in the city with the kids. In fact, we would have skipped seeing the d’Orsay Museum if not for his tip to go the following morning. It turned out to be our favorite museum.
We made about 10 stops through the city, with a longer break off the bikes at a cafe in the Tuileries by the Louvre. Even though we went in winter, this garden area was beautiful, and the little cafe was perfect for an easy lunch with kids. The boys got savory crepes and soup, and the adults had sandwiches on baguette. The wine and hot chocolate were both nice, too. At the end of our tour, we got a great photo op at the tower, too.
Note: Lunch is not included in the price, but is not expensive. I believe we spent about €7 per person. We brought our own water bottles in a small backpack.
Overall, we found everyone at Fat Tire Tours to be friendly, welcoming, and energetic, from Nick to the office staff to the attendants putting us on bikes. It was a very friendly place to spend a morning in Paris, which can be an intimidating city. After our tour, the office staff gave us further advice on how to spend our afternoon. We had tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower, so we walked over from the office and spent a few hours enjoying the winter sunshine and checking out the Christmas market.
This half-day tour is $32 each, which I think is a steal. It was absolutely worth this and more.
The office is located by the Eiffel Tower, and full instructions for meeting your group will be given upon booking.
As I disclose whenever applicable, our tour was comped by Fat Tire Tours, for the purpose of review. All opinions remain our own.