Want to experience your favorite city in a fun, new way? Then Fat Tire Bike Tours might be just the thing. Fat Tire Bike Tours offers bike, Segway, and walking tours in a number of US and European cities, including Paris. I interrupted my regularly scheduled Paris program of meandering the boulevards and sitting at cafés, sipping wine while people watching for a Fat Tire Bike Tour, and had a lovely time.
The Bike Tour
I chose to do a bike tour to Monet’s Garden & Giverny, a village located about 50 miles (75 kilometers) from Paris. Guests meet at Fat Tire’s office in Paris before boarding a coach for the 45 – 60-minute ride to the village, during which the guide, who’s also an art historian, gave a lesson on impressionism and Monet.
Our first stop was to a market in Vernon where we shopped for our picnic lunch*. From the market, we walked a few blocks to a garage and picked up our bikes to begin our adventure. We rode a short distance, passing beautiful historical sites, including the stunning medieval Vernon Cathedral.
We stopped briefly at Vernon Cathedral – which seems slightly out of place in the tiny village – as our guide gave us some background on the building and a for photos before making our way to Le Vieux Moulin de Vernon (the Old Windmill) where we ate our picnic lunch and our continued the art history lesson.
Built in the 16th century as part of a medieval bridge and located next to the ruins of a castle, the Old Windmill was a favorite site of Monet’s and painted by the artist in 1833.
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After lunch, the biking part of the bike tour began in earnest as we rode 5 kilometers/3 miles to Giverny and Monet’s house**. We parked our bikes and had a couple of hours to visit Monet’s home independently.
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Monet’s idyllic homestead, where the artist lived from 1883 – 1926, consists of the water garden, flower garden, and the house itself. I’m sad to say that the water lilies weren’t open at the time of my visit, however, because it was spring, the rest of the gardens were in full bloom.
The magnificent garden, full of pink blossoms, azaleas, irises, weeping willows, and famous Japanese bridge were as dreamy as Monet’s paintings and remain just as he designed them.
The charming house is almost as colorful as the garden. From the pink and green façade to the blue sitting room to the bright yellow dining room, color greets you everywhere. From the bedrooms, there are wonderful views of the flower garden, and the large kitchen, with its blue and white tiled walls and copper pots and pans, received almost as many oohs and ahhs as the gardens.
A little ways up the road in Giverny is the artists’ studio, a few cafés, and Hotel Baudy where Monet met with American artists for drinks. The hotel no longer provides accommodations but is still a popular restaurant.
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Also in Giverny is Église Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny, the village church built in the 15th and 16th centuries That Monet attended and where he and his family are buried.
Things To Know About Fat Tire Bike Tours
Fat Tire Bike Tours has several tours to choose from including other day trips, tours around Paris, and as I mentioned previously, the option of a bike, Segway, or walking tours.
Fat Tire Bike Tours are family-friendly, and there are bikes available in a variety of sizes, as well as tandems and trailers available at the same cost as a traditional bike. Baby seats are available for free, however, it is recommended to request in advance as there a limited number. Helmets are optional for everyone over 12 years old.
Prices range from €35 – €200, and Paris Pass holders can receive a 15% discount on any Paris City Bike or Segway tour.
For more information, visit the Fat Tire Bike Tours website.
*Lunch is at your own expense
**Ticket to Monet’s Garden included in the price of the tour