12 August 2011

Tour de Paris

I wanted to post this 3 weeks ago when the REAL Tour de France ended but I didn't have access to my photos. Better late than never is what I say!!

Though the race is usually decided the next to the last day, the ride into Paris and the laps around the Champs-Elysees are thrilling to watch. That is why, after reading about the Fat Tire Bike Tours of Paris  for a trip there to see our oldest daughter Laura in the summer of 2008, it moved to the top of the list of things to do. Laura is not an avid cyclist and took a little convincing. In the end, she agreed and we chose the night bike tour that included a boat ride on the Seine. Let me just say that aside from my marriage and the birth of my children, this has got to be in the top 3 of my All-Time Favorite life moments. We all had a magical evening and it was MUCH better than walking!

 No reservations were required, we just met our tour guide at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Then we walked a few blocks to where they kept the bikes.

This was our wonderful guide. I wish I could remember her name. 
She was spending the summer in Paris 
and would return home to Texas A&M in the fall!!

She noticed the Longhorn on Mark's shirt right away!!

After a few safety instructions, and a review of the plan for the evening we began our tour. I KNOW, it's not safe to use a camera while you are riding a bike, but c'mon! I was riding a bike in the streets of downtown PARIS!!!

The tour included a "mandatory" stop for ice cream 
at Berthillon Ice Cream, the most famous ice cream shop in Paris.

Views from the bridge

View on the bridge - myself, Laura & Mark

 An impromptu street performance. They casually walked past us,
set down their boom box, and just began dancing.

Every bike had a name, mine was "Lil' Bandit".

Some of the Tour Stops

A June sunset on the Seine

So here I'm thinking "Oh My GOSH!!" 
"We're riding into the Louvre Courtyard!!"
Of COURSE I had to take another picture while riding one handed. 

Proof that we were there. It took a couple of loops around 
the courtyard for the guide to snap the picture just right!

I Love this picture! It was like we had the Louvre to ourselves.

Yes, we just rode down this street - part of the route 
for the final laps on the Champs Elysees!
I pretended I was Lance.....until we had to stop & wait for traffic to clear. 

"The Champs Elysees"
Down the road is the Arc de Triomphe & the finish line for the Tour de France.
I was channeling the voices of Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett right about here.

Looking back at more of the tour route

We parked our bikes and boarded the tour boat.
Our evening ride on the Seine began - it even included wine!

It doesn't get any more romantic!!
(Thanks, Laura, for taking the picture!)

Each bridge we passed under was different but equally stunning. 
This is definitely one of the best ways to tour Paris.

Notre Dame coming and going - equally gorgeous

 The Conciergerie - 
This former prison sits on the Ile de la Cite. Over 2,300 prisoners were sent to the guillotine from here - including Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVII.

Our boat passing under a bridge

 A perfect ending to a perfect night.

As we rode our bikes back to our starting point, as if on cue,
the Eiffel Tower started sparkling like a glittering diamond.

If you have never been there, I hope you can make it to Paris some day. We were fortunate that Laura was there for the summer doing research at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie and we could stay in her apartment. You MUST put the Fat Tire Bike Tours of Paris on your bucket list. The company belongs to some Texas A&M graduates and is quality through and through. You don't have to be an expert bike rider, but you can imagine that you are a cyclist in the Tour de France!!

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