Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Paris, France. It was my first time in the city of love, and I was so overwhelmed with what to do that I found myself lost. Luckily for me, I have family in Paris, and not only that but my uncle owns a bike touring company in Paris.
Now I have to be honest, the thought of biking Paris was intimidating, at first. I don't bike often, and in-fact until then it was the first time in at least two years that I had been on a bike. Of course, being that it was my first time in Paris, I told myself I would be trying anything and everything, snails included, but that is another story.
Paul, my uncle, and his partner Christian started “Bike About Tours” to give an original experience to English speaking travelers in Paris. Both Paul and Christian have lived in Paris for years and know the ins and outs of the magnificent city. With their knowledge, they put together a tour of the parts of the city that you most likely would not come across on your first second or even third visit to Paris, as a tourist.
The tour is all about discovering the Paris that isn't advertised in the media. It is all about seeing the part of Paris that the locals cherish and the parts where history really does still live and thrive.
The day I took the tour, the weather was lovely and the atmosphere screamed adventure. The tour began in front of the well known Cathedral of Notre Dame, but soon took a spin for the secrets of Paris.
Christian, along with a group of tourists-- a family of four vacationing from Cuba, two “Kiwi's” (New Zealanders) backpacking through Europe, two Canadian exchange students, and myself-- biked Paris for almost five hours.
Sound exhausting? It was, but the exhilaration from all of the historical sites that I didn't even know existed in Paris was enough to keep me going for three more hours.
Along the tour, we stopped by a wall that had a tiny cannonball lodged in its side from the French Revolution, the square that housed the residence of renowned French author Victor Hugo, and a bridge covered with locks placed there by lovers. When the tour came to an end, there was so much culture and history that I took in, it was hard to even believe.
The tour itself was amazing, but I think what was even more amazing was the view I got of Paris. As a tourist in a foreign country it isn't often that I think about biking around the country. In-fact I am sure that is not on the to-do list of most tourists.
With that being said, I honestly believe that biking Paris honestly was the most memorable part of my entire trip. Not only did I get a grade-A tour, but I also got a view of Paris that many have not by driving a car or getting on a tour bus. There is no comparison to the closeness you feel on a bike.
First off, Paris is basically made for bikers, with what seems like as many bike lanes as traffic lanes, and over 25,000 bikes placed all over the city for anyone’s (renting) pleasure. Biking Paris is easy, affordable, green, and worth every minute spent. I think that is what makes Bike About Tours so enjoyable, and the experience I had so unique.
The point I am trying to get across is that biking is the new trendy thing to do. If you have stepped foot in D.C. at all in the past few years you will realize that it is also becoming popular in the Metro area.
Like Paris, D.C. has placed bikes for rent all over the city. Exploring a city on a bike is like no other mode of transportation. D.C. is starting to catch up with the Parisian effort to get biking into the daily lives of its citizens.
Paris, is much more ahead, but with time biking through D.C. will become just as popular. Benefits, from biking outweigh any downfall. For one, biking is the new “green” thing to do, and it is also the healthy thing to do. Why not see the city you love from a different angle, while also doing your part to save the environment and increase your health?
When I visit Paris again, I will definitely be taking the tour again, and I might even have the opportunity to intern with them, which could be good or bad-- I'm not sure I'm tour guide material. Looking back I think the experience I had in Paris was definitely something worth sharing. It was the time of my life, and I would love to let anyone be able to experience it as well.
If you are in Paris, be sure to make time for a Bike About Tour's trip, and truly see Paris for what it is. I also plan on making my way to D.C. to see this Capitol see from the “bike eye view.”
Lasso Staff Reporter.
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