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Published: June 13th 2013
What a way to see Paris with kids! This morning dawned a bit grey, but warm. The rain had disappeared, and the view from our balcony down the Rue St Honore was an exciting invitation to get out and explore. We met the Mathews gang (Who had come in on the train from their campsite in Versailles) at the Bikeabout Tours headquarters in the carpark of the Hotel de Ville, and headed off on our long awaited bike tour of Paris. This had been a bit of an organisational feat, given that we had many children to organise the right-sized bikes for, so I already felt I knew the crew at Bikeabout quite well after months of them patiently answering my questions via e-mail.
Our guide knew so much about Paris - things I could never have found out in a guide book. Did you know, for example, that there are little mosaic pictures of Space Invaders hiding on lots of Paris buildings, and rumour has it there is even one in the Louvre! If all the Space Invaders are plotted on a map of Paris, they make a picture of a Space Invader - very cool, and the kids
The Bike Gang
Notre Dame in the distance
loved looking for them everywhere. The best thing about the tour, however, was the amount of ground we covered in such a short time. We rode literally all around Paris and really got our bearings. The bike paths were fabulous, and even with so many children we felt very safe on the roads as the drivers were incredibly considerate. All the bike lanes on one-way streets went in the opposite direction to the traffic, which also helped us feel more comfortable.
It felt amazing to be casually cycling past Notre Dame, down little laneways and nooks and crannies, across the Seine, seeing the Bastille, and stopping at cake shops and street vendors in St Germain and The Marais. Our first sight of the great Pyramid at The Louvre was on this bike tour as we rode through the crowd and then what felt like through a building! (Really just beautiful stone archways out to Rue de Rivoli.) The children had a blast, and so did we. All of our legs were quite fresh when we returned to headquarters after several hours seeing the sights, so we felt perfectly able to continue sightseeing for the afternoon, and headed off to
Saint Chapelle. It was a great spot to pick up our Paris museum pass as the queues were so short, and I particularly loved the beautiful stained glass - it was hard not to take hundreds of photos.
Our Bikeabout guide had also shown us how to use the free bike system in Paris - I don't know that we would have tried on our own - but we confidently organised a week-long pass and hopped on bikes again to ride home. It was a breeze. Except for one small problem. Hugo was too short. After some head-scratching, it turned out not to be such a problem as a local showed us how the handlebars are very wide and flat - perfect size for a little bottom, and then the child's feet can go straight into the basket on the bike. I wasn't quite sure, but Frank made it look easy. Hugo made us laugh later in the day when he shouted out that it was the best AND scariest thing he'd ever done in his life! Hugo is NOT a risk-taker in general, but he couldn't wait for the next ride, and his prize comment was "It's better
"Better than Luna Park"!
than Luna Park".
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