France Paris-Cycle Tour
Paris is a fabulous city for cyclists – lots of cycle lanes, canal paths, a fantastic route to Versailles and the inspiring courtesy of French drivers towards cyclists.
As well as the obvious sights, the Sacre Couer, the Louvre, the Musée D'Orsay and the Eiffel Tower, on the Paris cycling tour we'll show you the lesser-known Paris: the Promenade Planté, the bike path to the spectacular Royal Basilica in St Denis, the memorial to the Vel d'Hiv.
The food, needless to say, is wonderful. We'll have Chain Gang bikes for our longer trips, and the Paris Vélibs, a public bike sharing system, to explore the city.
This is the best 1-week cycling tour of Paris you can find.
1. Sacre Couer
2. The Louvre
3. The Musee D'Orsay
4. The Promenade Plante
5. The Royal Basilica in St. Denis
6. The Memorial to Vel d'Hiv
7. Arena de Lutece
8. Ild de la Cite
9. Ile Saint-Louis
10. Notre Dame
11. The Conciergerie
12. Saint Chapelle
13. Hotel des Invalides
14. Napoleon's Tomb
15. Rodin Museum
17. The Palace of Versailles
18. Arc de Triomphe
19. The cemetary at Pere Lachaise
20. Montmartre, the prettiest district in Paris
Day 1: A Paris Sampler (22 miles/35 km)
We begin with a taster. On Sundays many of the city roads are closed to traffic and Parisiennes take to the streets on roller blades and bikes. Today we'll find out where everything is, and you'll see why a bike is the perfect way to get around Paris and appreciate how the Ile de la Cité fits in.
We'll also visit the Arena de Lutece, the Roman ampitheatre in the 5th arrondissement, climb one of the few hills in Paris to the top of Montmartre and see how far the mob had to walk to the Bastille after they'd stolen 26,000 rifles from the Hotel des Invalides.
Day 2: Notre Dame and Musee D'Orsay (6 miles/9 km)
The Ile de la Cité – a 5-minute Vélib ride. With the Ile Saint-Louis, these two islands form the heart of Paris. We'll start with a tour of both islands then visit Nôtre Dame, the Conciergerie and Saint Chapelle.
In the afternoon, another Vélib hop along the Left Bank to the stunning Musée D'Orsay. Surely the best use of a railway station in the world, it's packed with Impressionists: galleries of Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin, Matisse.
Day 3: The Louvre, Hotel des Invalides, and the Pantheon (7 miles/12 km)
We spend the morning at the Louvre (another five minutes away on our Vélibs) jumping straight to the front of the queue with our special Museum Pass. After lunch we'll visit the Hotel des Invalides (more queue jumping, vive le Museum Pass!) with its huge, gorgeous golden dome and Napoleon's tomb (also pretty huge and gorgeous). Then next door to the Rodin Museum, and grab another Vélib to the Panthéon, resting place of most of the French people you've ever heard of, and a beautiful church to boot.
One more Vélib – home, past the Sorbonne to Saint-André.
Day 4: Versailles and the Arc de Triomphe (30 miles/47 km)
Today we head out of Paris via a special route through the Bois de Boulogne, the 'lungs' of Paris, all the way to the Palace of Versailles, a 'must-see'. We'll need our Chain Gang bikes for this trip because it's a proper bike ride.
In France Versailles is synonymous not only with the royal residence but with the whole concept of absolute monarchy. Imagine you were given all the money in the world and challenged to spend every penny of it on a single house – that's Versailles. Michelin gives it a maximum 3*** stars, 'Worth a journey in itself', but that's only because their scale doesn't go beyond 3.
On the way home, the Arc de Triomphe, the ultimate symbol of the mob that overthrew the masters of Versailles.
Day 5: The Saint Denis Basilica (23 miles/37 km)
Today we use cycle lanes on our Chain Gang bikes to join the Canal St Martin at the Place de Stalingrad and follow the canal out of Paris, beyond the Péripherique to Saint-Denis where we'll visit the beautiful Basilica, resting place of almost all the French Kings and Queens.
On our return we detour into the park at Buttes de Chaumont, thence to the cemetery at Père Lachaise. It's packed with famous tombs: Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, Proust, Chopin, Jim Morrison, Laurent Fignon … and was the scene the last stand of the Paris Communards killed by firing squad and buried where they fell in a communal plot against the 'Federalists' Wall'. Statues described by Michelin as 'heartachingly grim', commemorating Paris' contribution to the Nazi concentration camps, line the 'Avenue Circulaire'.
Back to our hotel via the Promenade Planté,an old elevated railway line now a garden walkway for walkers and cyclists that takes us all the way into the Place de la Bastille.
Day 6: Montmartre and Sacre Couer (13 miles/22 km)
We're back on our Vélib for a bracing ride up into Montmartre, the prettiest district in Paris. We'll have a walk, perhaps stop at a café, and visit the Sacre Couer, a beautiful Byzantine basilica built on the Buttes de Montmartre, the highest point in Paris.
Beneath the Sacre Couer in disused gypsum mines are the graves of many of the Paris Communards from a bloody period in 1870. The Sacre Coeur sits on a colossal blood bath, and that's why they built it here.
After lunch, we'll grab another Vélib and cycle to the Eiffel Tower and look at all the landmarks we've visited, before a final Vélib trip back to our friends at Saint-André.
Day 7: Departure
After breakfast, you'll depart individually for your homeward connections.
• 7 nights accommodation
• 7 breakfasts and evening meals (dinners)
• Bike rental, including fitting and setup
• Luggage transfers each day
• Chain gang cycling jersey
• Tour guide
• GST (Government Sales Tax)
• Tips & Gratitude
Bike Rentals: Guided
Bikes available on this tour, and included in the tour cost (reserved in advance at the time of booking):
• Hybrid touring bikes, Trek 7.3 FX, Shimano Nexave
Bikes come equipped with:
• Waterproof jackets
• Water bottle
• Basic repair kit
The bikes will have FLAT pedals. If you bring your own pedals, be sure to bring your own shoes and also the necessary equipment to change the pedals.
Helmets are available on this tour. However, we recommend that you bring your own helmet for safety and hygiene purposes.