I was just in France for business, and extended a couple days to do some sightseeing. While in Paris, I went on a guided tour with a group aptly named Fat Tire Bike Tours. Consider this a review. No reservations were required, I just showed up at the designated meeting point on the day I wanted. The guides are outgoing college students from the US (mostly from Texas), so they are easy to understand and humorous.
The bikes we rode were what I would call beach-style cruisers, with big handle bars and sitting upright. Compared to my mountain bike, it was like moving from a sports car to a boat car, but I did get used to it after a while. So when they say “fat tire”, they don’t mean mountain bike. When one of the participants got a flat tire midway through the tour, the guide was able to fix it right there on the spot.
The tour was about four hours long. We went at an easy pace, and stopped midway for a snack and rest at an outdoor cafe (food not included in the tour price). We were able to see an amazing number of sights in those 4 hours, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how the bikes made it quick and easy to get around town. I think it is much better than what you could do on foot or on the Metro. Of course, we didn’t have time to go inside the buildings that we saw, but if you want to do that then this tour would be a great introduction / orientation to whatever you’d like to do on your own in-depth. There was plenty of opportunity to visit with the other participants, especially since they all spoke English, and compare notes on their experiences in the country.
Their shop where we started and ended the tour was set up for visitors, with free bathrooms, ponchos for 1 € (it was sprinkling that day, and they even offered to buy them back if unopened), free Internet access, snacks for sale, etc. The tour itself was reasonably priced (24 €), I never had the feeling I was being ripped off. In fact, it seemed to be quite a good value. The tour was well executed, the equipment was good, and all the staff was really nice.
They also offer specialty tours, such as “Paris at Night” and tours on Segways. I would have loved to have taken the Segway tour, but I would be in trouble if I did one without my wife who is a big Segway fan.
The tour was a lot of fun and an excellent way to spend your time in the city. Based on my experience, I give these folks a big thumbs up. If you find yourself in a city where these tours are offered, give them a try and you may be pleasantly surprised.