Touring Paris By Bicycle
This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read my Disclosure Policy.
This is the first in a series of things to do in France. The highlight of our trip was taking a Paris Bike Tour. Not only did we enjoy a day bike tour, but we also rode in a Paris bike tour at night.
I’m back… to home sweet home! For readers who haven’t been following my trip on Instagram or Facebook, Ed and I spent 12 days in France. 5 days in Paris and 7 days on a Viking River Cruise along the Seine.
Ed and I love to travel and I have learned to enjoy every minute of our trips, so I didn’t do any work while in France. Not sure if that was the best decision since it has taken me 2 full days to tackle my email. If you left me a comment over the past two weeks and I have not responded to your question yet, please know I am working on it.
I did take hundreds of photos though, so that I could share the best parts of the trip in a series of posts with you over the next few weeks. I’ll start with what we did the first two days in Paris, which were the only perfect weather days of the trip.
This was my first trip to France. I wanted to see everything, but since we only had 5 days, we had to edit our “things to see and do list”. We enjoyed everything we did, even with rainy weather.
The Viking River Cruise started from Paris, but would only be there for 2 days. I wanted to spend more time in the city so we decided to find a hotel and go 4 days prior to the start of the cruise to spend more time in Paris.
We used our frequent flyer miles and found a nice and affordable hotel, the Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche using Hotwire.
Our flight left South Carolina on Sunday at 3:00PM EST and we arrived in Paris at 7:00 AM on Monday morning Paris time. We planned to drop our bags off at the hotel since check-in was at 3:00, but were pleasantly surprised that our room was ready.
The hotel was perfect. A small boutique hotel with a teeny-tiny
elevator, lift with a metal grate door. It was so small that it only held one person. We used the steps since we were only on the first floor.
We were tired from the 10 hour flight, but decided not to sleep and instead get out into the city since according to the weather reports, it was going to be the only sunny day all week.
I had pre-booked a bike tour with Bike About Tours for our second day in Paris.
When we arrived on Monday morning, I called the bike tour company to see if they still had openings for the Monday Day Tour (our first day) while the weather was still nice.
I am glad we switched days! Since it rained the rest of the week. Riding bicycles through Paris was the highlight of our trip. It was so much fun that we signed up to go on the Evening Tour to the Eiffel Tower to see it sparkle the following evening – which was pretty magical.
I like that there were only 8 of us on the tours which made it more personal and easy to stay in the group.
I found out about Bike About Tours in a Paris guide book that I bought a few weeks before our trip.
I chose to book a tour with them over the other bike tour companies because they go off the beaten path and only take 8 -10 riders per tour. The other bike tour companies take up to 25 which is way too many people trying to stay together and follow a tour guide.
This is the path we took on the day tour. The night tour followed a different path to the 7th Arrondissement, ending at the Eiffel Tower. Each tour was approx. 4.5 hours.
Simon, our tour guide, was great. He was very funny and shared a lot of interesting things about the city that we would have never discovered on our own. He was one of the reasons the tour was so special.
The bike tours leave from the Marais district in the 3rd Arr. We went over quite a few bridges.
Saw not one, but quite a few tourist boats along the Seine. Ed remembers the Bateaux Mouche from a long ago trip to Paris but there are many different options now.
One of the first stops was the square of Place des Vosges, that straddles the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in the Marais district of Paris. We learned it is the most prestigious address to have in all of Paris.
It was built by Henri IV from 1605 to 1612 and is a true square (140 m × 140 m). When standing in the square you don’t even feel like you are in a city.
Each home is a private residence that appear virtually identical. On close inspection you can see that each home has something unique about it. Some of the homes have been newly renovated and have pretty flowers filling the flower boxes.
After we left the Marais, we headed along one of the quais along the Seine for the Latin Quarter.
To get there, we passed by Notre Dame. From the front it still looks OK after the fire, but not from the back or sides. (See more photos about this later in the post).
The Latin Quarter was filled with interesting homes. I was especially intrigued to learn of a rather unique aspect of the Paris cityscape. Behind every arch in a wall, gate, or door like the one above is a private courtyard for the apartments and homes on the block. It gives the inhabitants a quiet place away from the noise of the city.
Our bike ride continued and took us down the rue de l’ Ancienne Comedie which is a narrow cobblestoned street.
With cute shops, a chocolaterie, and restaurants.
The hidden wonders included the famous Le Procope restaurant, frequented by Benjamin Franklin when in Paris. A few days after the bike tour, Ed and I met up with a Parisian friend of Ed’s to eat dinner there.
Next we headed back over to the Right Bank and rode around the courtyard of the Louvre.
Getting to see the glass pyramid up close was a highlight. Both of our bike tours took this detour and it was truly fun to see the iconic glass pyramids throughout the courtyard.
From the Louvre, we rode to a few other places and then made our way back to the Marais to end the tour via another quai where there was less traffic.
As we walked back from the Marais district to the Latin Quarter where we were staying, we stopped at a cafe along the Seine to eat dinner.
There are so many cafes like this throughout the city. Each one includes similarly chic round cafe tables and woven French chairs. And they all face out for perfect people watching!
It was a perfect day and a perfect meal. I felt like I was in a dream and had to keep saying to myself, “Diane, you really are in Paris!”
While we ate dinner, Ed and I talked about how much fun the bike day tour was and decided to book the evening tour with Bike About Tours with the same tour guide, Simon, for the following day.
Touring Paris By Bicycle at Night
The evening bike tour started at 7:00 PM. It was a rainy day, but the rain had stopped a few hours before so the bike tour was on.
We went over more bridges and passed a large group of Parisians participating in a fitness class on the bridge.
Saw more tourist boats go by on the river.
And got to see the fire damage of Notre Dame up close from a small side street.
We were told all about the fire and how it probably started from a workman’s cigarette.
The wood you see under the flying buttresses has been added to provide support until they can figure out how the cathedral will be repaired.
Bike About Tours is near Notre Dame and Simon our tour guide took a photo while it was burning. His dramatic photo was shown on news channels all over the world.
Once we left Notre Dame we rode over more bridges and along quais…
…as dusk turned into dark.
Many of my friends have asked me, “Was it safe to ride in the city?” Yes! When out on busy streets we stayed on the bike lanes which are much wider than bike lanes in the US.
We also took many side streets where there was little to no traffic. I felt totally at ease and safe.
The night bike tour took us to the Louvre again, but this time, the glass pyramid was lit up from within.
We rode around the Palais Royale, more quais, saw the tunnel where Princess Diana died and then headed over to the Left Bank towards the Eiffel Tower.
On the hour, the lights on the tower twinkle for a few minutes. Simon added to the twinkle with some sparkle from a bottle of champagne he brought. :-)
It was pretty magical.
Riding a bike through Paris was the best way to explore a city that was new to us. We covered so much ground that we never would have if we walked it. We also wouldn’t have seen all of the spots if we had taken the Metro from place to place.
The bike tours were truly the highlight of sightseeing through Paris for me.
I am going to look into going on a bike tour in every city I visit from now on.
To keep reading about this trip, select the links below for:
Part 2: Walking Around Paris
Oh my!! You telling yourself…Diane, you really are in Paris!” …That gave me goosebumps because in June 2019 I was having to tell myself that same thing over and over again. We had a whirlwind 2.5 days in Paris before we headed to Rome, but Paris blew me away and I WILL be back.
If you ever get to Rome, do a bike tour there. We saw so much we were shocked – Just like you in Paris.
Oh the memories…
You did a great job of describing your magical trip. I could almost imagine being along! Especially the twilight turning into night. My favorite picture of you guys together.❤
Hi Connie – thanks. :-) I will be sharing a few more posts about the trip. The next one will be later this week.
What a lovely trip! ….. AND, it did not look crowded! ….. OR, cold!
I am going in April and was wondering about clothing ….. you both look comfortable in jeans and tennis shoes so that is what I’m taking:)
Hi Linda – It was not cold or crowded at all. We got into everything we wanted to see and do right away. We never had to wait for a table to eat. It was all very nice. I prefer casual style and it works just fine in Paris. Tennis shoes were everywhere, especially white Adidas Stan Smith sneakers. I even took a photo of a women wearing them to send to my sister who has a pair. They are chic in Paris. :-)
Love your pictures and maybe you already adressed this, but your shoes, the ballet flats with straps,what brand are they and we’re they comfortable? Going on holiday to Germany in November and all the comfortable shoes seem so matronly. Thanks.
Hi Beth – The shoes are MaryJane style clogs with a strap in the back. They are from Dansko called Maureen. I have had them for 2 years and think they may not be available anymore. You can check online or the Dansko website.
What a great post Diane, and what a pleasure it was to meet you and Ed.
Your pictures are so good, it’s well after dinner time here in Paris as I write this, but looking at the picture of the food I feel hungry now! :-)
It was a delight having you both on my bike tour. Your energy and excitement was fabulous and meeting people like you guys is what makes my job just so much fun.
Also, I have to say that for me to read such a glowing report about both of my tours really makes my day! So thank you for that!
What a joy to see your photos from your amazing trip! I’m happy you got to make this trip and am looking forward to reading more about it!
Looks and sounds like an amazing time. I am amazed that you didn’t sleep after arriving though because I’m dead tired every year when we go home to Germany and just have to go to bed ;)
Hi Julia – If the day we arrived wasn’t going to be the only sunny day, we would have slept. I am making up for it now that we are home. I am falling asleep as I type this. :-)
Diane, you looked very Parisian standing next to the bike rack. I loved all the pictures you’ve posted and have added Paris to my bucket list. I’m visiting the Netherlands and Germany on a Viking cruise in December. My first European trip and I’m so excited! I can’t wait to see more of your trip!
Hi Faye – Merci beaucoup. :-) I have heard the cruise you are going on is very scenic. Many of the passengers on the Viking cruise I was on have been on quite a few of the Viking Cruises and loved the ones in Germany, The Netherlands and the Danube. I will be writing all about the Viking cruise I took from Paris to Normandy soon. I am getting my posts about what we did each day ready in the order.
Thanks Diane! Paris is a definite must see on my bucket list, but with all the news of unrest, protests and homeless issues, I’ve put it on the back burner. Keep hearing it’s not a safe time to visit Paris and even had a friend there a couple of weeks ago that got pickpocketed at the Metro. Did you witness any of this? Your photos are encouraging – doesn’t look crowded at all. Also, just how strenuous was the bike riding tour? You and Ed are in good shape, but my husband and I are not! I haven’t been on a bike in forever, but it sure looks like it was definitely a fun way to see Paris!
Hi Susan –
We were told before we went not to wear backpacks, to watch for the Russian pick-pockets and more. We saw nothing bad. The tourist sites were crowded and I will write about the parts of Paris that we went to not on the bike tour that I didn’t like. Just like any city, there are pretty and interesting sections and some over touristy sections that are dirty looking and honky tonk.
The bike ride was all on level roads, no hills – very easy. If you haven’t rode a bike in sometime though, it may not be the best thing to do. :-)
Thank you Diane! I really appreciate your information and look forward to reading more about your trip!
You know in response to Susan, I would say this much about fears regarding protesters, pick-pockets and homeless people. Paris is a big city that faces challenges much like any city does.
Unless Susan is planning on visiting France to become homeless herself then I would say she needn’t be concerned about homelessness in Paris as she’s unlikely to experience it in any real way.
“Unrest?” I’ve lived in Paris for 5 years and I’m used to the way French people engage with their government. When they don’t like something they take to the streets to protest. This doesn’t lead to people getting hurt or police shooting anyone. It’s a regular French thing. Honestly, in 5 years I’ve never been bothered or worried in any way by demonstrations. It’s just democracy at work, right?
To hear anyone say “it’s not a safe time to visit Paris” is amusing. I’ve heard similar nonsense from people who say they won’t go to the USA because of guns, racism, and Donald Trump! lol. Does that sound silly to you Susan? Probably right? Thankfully Diane and Ed came to Paris and managed to make it out alive and unscathed along with the other 40 million tourists who will have visited Paris in 2019. :-)
Thank you Simon for your response, I appreciate the information! Glad to hear that protests/demonstrations there don’t end in violence as they do here so often. What little information I have is based on what we see in the news and social media. So I was happy to read and ask my questions to someone that had just returned from Paris. Perhaps I’ll make it there in 2021 – saving up the funds will take a little time!
Your pictures are amazing! So glad you had such a good trip. I look forward to reading your upcoming posts. I am also a big fan of bike tours and have taken them in many cities. I have always enjoyed them and learned so much!
Loved your posts about Paris – thanks for sharing! Don’t know how to comment on Instastory but that plant is pink muhly grass. It’s a clumper and will spread by starting new clumps but they are small to begin with so are easy to pull out if you don’t want it. The clumps get quite large so plant it where you want it or divide it / move it before it gets too big. I love it and now have a pink muhly grass walk in my garden.
I love exploring cities by bike! How fun to do it both day and night. Paris is such an amazing city and I’m so glad you got to experience it. Your photos are lovely. Can’t wait to see more of your adventures.
Thank you for sharing?. I had never heard of the bike tours until your post!! Sounds like a great way to get acquainted with a new city ?
Paris on bikes! wow! Was the traffic ever an issue or safety concern??
Hi Cyndi – I did mention in the post that I felt safe at all times. When we were on major roads we were on the bike paths, which are wider than the ones in the US, plus they have a curb to separate them from the car traffic lanes. We also went off the beaten path and on quais along the river where there was little to no traffic. It was so much fun!
Hi Diane, I can’t thankyou enough for sharing your magicl trip , its just stunning, I have wanted to visit France since I can remember but never got round to it, I’m so glad you did. You look like you had the best time, its wonderful to acheive a dream isn’t it.
The silly thing is for me it is really a short trip away as I am in the UK, but still, maybe one day.xx
Magical photos ! Thank you so much .They bring back such a lot for me .Now I feel very nostalgic……
I lived in France for several extended periods in the Alps and in Provence when I was young and single…..so much to see .
Now I want to go back with my husband before we get too old!
That’s a really LOVELY pic of you and your husband in front of la Tour Eiffel,by the way .
Wow that was a marvellous tour you just took me on. I too loved Paris . It was s number of years ago. Thanks for sharing.We live in Ontario,Canada
Thank you so very much for your wonderful pictures from Paris ! You should be a photographer ’cause these are stunning! Granny Beth
Fabulous! Glad you had a great time. Love France expeditions.
Never thought before about bike tours. What a great way to see the town….and Paris! I’m excited to hear more! )
Wow! What a great trip and what wonderful memories you made to treasure all your life.
Love your photos Diane! You are a woman of MANY talents and photography is definitely one of them. So happy you and Ed went a few days early and were able to participate in the bike tours. Love your blog, thanks so much for sharing the info with me! Revoir!
OH WOW!! Thank you Diane, for all these wonderful pictures. You must have a lot of practice at bike riding to do all that you did and not be aching from it!
I.Am.In.Awe. You are describing and showing my dream vacation. That’s about all I can say.
That pic of you and Ed is so amazing! So glad you went on the trip and got a few days in Paris. It’s a great city. I spent a few days there but didn’t do the bike tours… should have. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.
It looks like such a wonderful trip! Loved seeing the day of biking. Happy weekend ~