Paris is a city with plenty of wow factor, from the dazzling Eiffel Tower to the museums to the crepes. But sightseeing in Paris with kids can wear everyone down quickly. Fat Tire Bike Tours puts the fun back in seeing all the amazing sites of the city with their unique tour offerings and highly qualified guides.
In my opinion, what separates Fat Tire from other tours is that these bike tours offer a fun way to get around: on wheels! What kid doesn’t enjoy a bike ride, either on their own or from the comfort of a seat or trailer attached to mom and dad’s? And instead of a spin around the regular neighborhood, this ride will feature some of Paris’ most beautiful attractions. Plus, you can see more in a shorter period of time when pedaling versus walking.
While a typical tour may seem long for children (most are around 3 hours), it is a nice mix of riding and stops along the way. During the stops, expert guides fill the group in on some history and facts of each location. Morning tours usually include a stop for a picnic lunch in one of Paris’ legendary gardens.
Fat Tire is quite skilled at mapping out routes that are safe for cyclists, often using dedicated bike lanes away from the hustle of city traffic, which is something the average visitor would be hard-pressed to figure out on their own. Central Paris’ relatively flat landscape makes riding easy for those more accustomed to leisure rides. Fat Tire can provide bike setups to match all levels of skill, from a family full of independent riders to those who need toddler seats, trailers or tandem attachments. A Paris bike experience will be something the whole family remembers forever.
If you have children age 12 and older, consider booking a Segway tour of the city instead. This was the tour I opted for on a recent visit, and I haven’t stopped telling anyone and everyone about it since. The Segways were fun and easy to learn to use, and would be such a thrill for the difficult-to-please teenage crowd. They might even learn something along the way! If you’re constantly looking for evening entertainment for older children while traveling through Europe, consider booking a night bike ride with Fat Tire for a chance of pace.
There isn’t a line in Paris longer than the one for the Eiffel Tower. It often looks almost as long as the tower is tall. Fat Tire’s Skip the Line program is a great alternative for visiting Paris attractions that tend to be crowded. While not all are structured as bike tours as mentioned above, these do provide you with a guide, a small group, and immediate access to the levels of the Eiffel Tower without waiting in line. Fat Tire also offers similar Skip the Line plus tour guide opportunities at the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. Though these aren’t specifically geared toward children, they are welcome to join the tours.
The Fat Tire tour I’d be most apt to book on a return to Paris with my children would be a bike tour of Versailles. Having been to the chateau before (sans kids), I know the grounds are so immense it would be difficult for families to see the bulk of the property without bikes. Plus, the ease of having Fat Tire make all your transport arrangements to and from Versailles is invaluable. While it is a full-day experience (nearly 8+ hours), families are given plenty of time to explore on their own.
Another popular option among Fat Tire’s bike day tours is a trip out to Monet’s Gardens. What a fantastic way to please kids while also indulging parents’ love of this Impressionist master in his home environment.
While the Segways were fun, it was the personal attention of our guide that really made my Fat Tire experience so memorable. He instantly sized up our group and knew just the sort of information that we would appreciate. He knew when we were ready to pick up the pace, and when we needed to slow down and rest a bit.
He also happily gave us advice about how to maximize our time in Paris after our tour (or on subsequent visits), arranged for taxi transport following our tour, and provided us with lunch recommendations. It was almost like having a hotel concierge in our back pocket throughout our half-day tour. In a city where the language barrier can be intimidating, our English-speaking guide’s willingness to provide clear and helpful information was a welcome relief for tired tourists.
If, after perusing the Fat Tire site, you feel your family isn’t a good match for any of the tours described, consider contacting the company to arrange a private tour. Our train schedule didn’t allow our group to participate in the already scheduled Segway tour that day, but the Fat Tire staff happily arranged a private tour at a minimal additional cost. The private attention might be well worth this added cost for families with unique needs or scheduling issues. Or if you have limited time, but want to see a lot, consider investing in a full day of touring with a Fat Tire tour guide.
Paris is a city of magical, unforgettable moments. Having now been four times, I’ve had plenty of my own, but it will be hard to top the wind rushing by my face as I whizzed along the Seine. Maybe it was the clear blue sky and the warm, sunny day, but I’m pretty sure it was actually the thrill of the Segway and the knowledge of the city I gained along the way.
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Editor’s Note: Nicole Wiltrout paid her own expenses for her private Segway tour of Paris. As always, all opinions are our own. Photos by Nicole Wiltrout unless otherwise noted.
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