Enjoy the Ride as Much as the Destination!
For many of our guests, a stay in the City of Lights is understandably perhaps one of the most exciting and special events of the year.
Although the Paris Metro is undoubtedly an effective tool of transit (at least it is – ahem – outside of driver strikes), it seems a shame to spend too much of your time underground, especially in a city as beautiful as Paris.
So, rather than popping up from under ground like a mole at your chosen sites of interest, I’ve selected 3 FUN, ORIGINAL and MEMORABLE ways of visiting and getting around Paris, while enjoying the ride just as much as (if not more than!) the destination.
Fun Way #1 : Touring Paris in a Citroën 2CV
Venice has its gondolas, New York has its taxi and Paris … its 2CVs!
The Citroën 2CV, is quirky little tin snail of a French car, characterised by voluptuous curves and cheerful cheeky eyes.
The name 2CV (read “Deux Chevaux”) actually derives from it’s tax rating of two horses (horses = chevaux) and is affectionately nicknamed “La Deuche” or “La Deudeuche” by the French.
The 2CV was a true industrial and social revolution, paving the way to economical and popular cars. Over 9 million were made throughout the little car’s a astonishingly long and colourful history, from 1942 to 1990.
The “Deux Chevaux” is as quintessentially French as a baguette, so when I started seeing specialised tour operators using them to show visitors around Paris, I thought “that looks like fun!”
Being driven in a 2CV is a lot of fun : the quaint retro atmosphere, the push-pull dash-mounted gear lever, the soft suspension (you can rock the car to alarming angles with your bare hands), the absurdly narrow bicycle-like tyres that go patter-patter on the cobblestones, all conspire to put a big smile on your face.
Plus, the 2CV was cool enough for Roger Moore and a sultry Carole Bouquet in the James Bond epic “For Your Eyes Only”…
Being a convertible, the “Deuche” also offers amazing views and photo opportunities. In fact, you can even stand up and stick out of the top (though perhaps not at speed!) to take your photos, much to the surprise of passers-by.
The specialised 2CV tour operator we’ve chosen is called “4 roues sous 1 parapluie”, (parapluie = umbrella, symbolizing the soft top). We chose them because they offer a very creative choice of tours, starting at a very reasonable 19€ / person (for 3 people).
The most popular tours include “Eternal Paris” which takes in the grand majesty of the classic monuments and avenues and “Secret Paris” where even a native Parisian would learn from the lively anecdotes and unexpected stories.
Other more creative tours include the “Monopoly Tour” which is like a real life board game, the classic “Paris by Night”, best-seller-book inspired “Da Vinci Ride”, “Romantic Ride” with a bouquet of roses included, and the amusing “Tour of Ladies Delight”, a luxury shopping tour which becomes the “Tour of Men’s Despair” if the 3-hour option is chosen!
Sign up to our newsletter and you’ll have access to a special promotion on these tours. 🙂
If you have been in a 2CV before, I’d be please to hear what you thought (use the comment function at the end of this post).
Fun Way #2 : Tandem Cycling in Paris is Twice the Fun!
If you receive my newsletter, you might have read my in-depth report on how to make the most of the revolutionary “Vélib” self-service short-trip bicycle system.
The truth is that where it not for Vélib, it would never have occurred to me to cycle in Paris. I suppose maybe I thought that urban cycling was for cabbage-eating beard-wearing environmentalist bohemians. How wrong I was… In fact I liked cycling in Paris so much that I now actually use a bicycle of my own to get around every day, using the 350Km of dedicated cycle lanes that make cycling much safer than it once was.
Going one step further is renting a tandem bicycle!
Not only is a tandem fun, but it also means that you’re always within easy speaking distance of your co-rider (often there isn’t room for two cyclists to safely ride next to one another), which makes touring Paris more pleasant.
The company I’m linking to also offers special tandems designed to take children with you ; imagine the fun of that!
Of course, although cycling in Paris is fun in and of itself, you might want to add the benefit of a tour guide to explain the history and significance of everything you’re seeing.
The same bike rental company also offers a range of off-the-beaten-track tours across Paris that look enjoyable.
Here are a couple of examples to get your legs pumping:
The “Heart of Paris” tour takes in the narrow streets of the historic Marais district. Then across Les Halles and Palais Royal, heading for the Louvre and the Seine, ending with the Islands and Notre-Dame.
The “Paris Contrasts” tour mixes nature and modern architecture, visiting the canals, boats, small houses and rich green parks that you just wont find in the more typical districts. Historic areas such as Belleville and Menilmontant are intertwined with new-built areas such as the Parc de la Villette.
There is even a special “Paris at Dawn” tour that kicks off at 6:30am in springtime and summertime. Not sure about you, but that sounds a tad hardcore to me…
Bicycle tours cost 34€ per person, with discounts for under those under 26.
If you have used tandem before or have done a cycle tour of Paris, please do share your impressions by commenting below.
Fun Way #3 : The Future is Here and it Looks like a Bubble!
You might have seen these futuristic bubble shapes moving silently along the Paris avenues.
“Cyclobulle” (CycloBubble) is a new electrically-powered means to discover Paris differently. The driver doubles as a tour guide, commenting the sights while gently pedalling with the help of an electric motor.
This new mode of transport is practical, speedy and of course environmentally friendly. The driver can take you anywhere and at any time, even if it’s just to go shopping or to have a mini tour of central Paris.
The rate is 25 euros for half an hour and you can be picked you up and dropped off wherever you want.
The tricycle format can seat up to three people in the back so you are fully covered and protected from the elements (well, as I write this it is 3°C with Paris under a freak cold spell with air blown in from Siberia… so I’m not so sure about the ‘weather protection’).
Do you think these might be the green future of city centers? If you have seen or tried the cyclobulle, please share your impressions by commenting below.
I’m hoping that with these 3 original ways of getting around Paris, you will enjoy the ride as much as the destination, and your stay will be all the more memorable for it!
Here’s to you having fun exploring Paris!
If you have some other fun and memorable ways of visiting Paris, please share your ideas with us. 🙂