Every visitor wants the best experience of Paris, from the top city sights to museums and galleries it’s hard to plan everything into one trip. If you want to make the most of the dry spell at the end of the summer, we’ve decided to go off-piste. Well, on two wheels.
Paris is a beautiful city to be explored by bike; with its cobbled streets and promenades along the Seine, it makes for some spectacular scenery. So ditch the map, hop on a saddle, follow our tailor-made touristy bike tour of Paris and take to the streets.
Why not start your day in one of Paris’ most notable landmarks, Notre Dame Cathedral. With a Vélib station (free bike scheme) just outside the religious monument it’s the perfect place to catch the attraction before it gets too busy. Take in the stunning French gothic architecture and marvel at the stained glass windows for which it’s famous.
After Notre Dame, cross to the other side of the Île de la Cité to visit the Sainte-Chappelle. On par with Notre Dame for its importance as a religious landmark, this 13th century church was once considered the most important and holy place in the world – containing Christ’s crown of thorns.
Take your bike and cycle over Pont Neuf – Paris’ most famous bridge marking the end of the Middle Ages and into modern design in the 16th century. As soon as you cross the bridge you will practically bump into the esteemed Louvre, a must-see when you’re in Paris.
As you cycle along the Quai des Tuileries you will pass the Louvre on your right. With spectacular views of the Seine River to your left and the famous art gallery to your right, you can’t beat it. Just a few yards further is the Tuileries Gardens, the perfect place to stop off for lunch. We recommend you bring a picnic – the vélib have enough space at the front to carry plenty! – and relax on the manicured gardens. Across the river, in front of you, you’ll also notice the prestigious Orsay Museum, a reformed old train station, which sits on the left bank of the Seine – a fine example of the Beaux Arts architecture popular at the turn of the century.
After lunch, cross to the northern side of the Tuileries Gardens and cycle up Rue de la Paix, passing Place de Vendome on your way. At the end of the road you’ll come to the impressive Paris Opera House. Another stunning Beaux Arts building, deemed one of the most opulent of all Parisian landmarks. Step inside and be transported back through time with crystal chandeliers and marble staircases, not to mention the huge stage upon which some of the most impressive ballets and operas have been performed – and the space which inspired Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera.
Next stop, Arc de Triomphe. Wind your way through the streets of Paris to this wartime landmark in the centre of the Charles de Gaule Etoile. This triumphal arch and monument is a testament to French victories and also to those who have lost their lives in battle. Constructed in the 1830s, its delicate engravings and neoclassical design make this monument one of Paris’ most famous – not least because of its symbolism. Discover the Tomb of the Unknown soldier beneath, and don’t leave without visiting the viewing platform and observation deck for sweeping views over the city. All the more spectacular at sunset.
From there, head to the iconic Eiffel Tower. You won’t need any more guidance than just follow the steep point! Across the river, in the Left Bank, the Eiffel Tower is one to see, especially when it’s all lit up at night. With plenty of docking stations around the Champ de Mars you can either end your bike tour of Paris there or carry on exploring through the night…
If doing a bike tour of Paris DIY is a bit daunting, the Fat Tire Bike Tours are a great way to take part but with some more guidance. You’ll be given a detailed tour of Paris and travel the streets safely, so for unseasoned cyclists perhaps this could be a recommendation. With the Paris Pass you’ll get a 15% discount, too. All the more incentive!
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