Sunday, 2 September 2007

Fat Tyres Tours

On Saturday evening Reanna and I went on a night-time bicycle tour of Paris with Fat Tyres Tours. I would really like to recommend them, as the idea of the tour is pretty good. They take you on a bike ride through the centre of Paris, starting from the Eiffel Tower, and then a boat trip on the Seine and finally a ride back to the Eiffel Tower. Paris is really pretty at night, with the Tower all lit up and every 30 minutes there is a light show on it. The idea of a guided tour also sounded good, where you assume you stop at a few of the important places and they give you a bit of the history and anecdotes and stuff.

Unfortunately these tours really depend on the tour guide you get and also the other people on the tour, and as Fat Tyre Tours is an American company, who only employs Americans, the guide is then an American, as are most of the other people on the Tour. Now I'm sure most Americans are really nice and normal, in fact the guide who took the other tour group seemed like one of those people. But the guide who took our group had that American sense of humour, in that if you are loud and obnoxious you think you are being funny, when in fact you are just loud and obnoxious.

The other problem was two other people on the tour, one of whom was an ex-Army guy who seemed to want to show off in front of his girlfriend, so he was jumping off curbs and that sort of thing. Eventually of course he got a flat tyre from smashing his back wheel into the curbs. So we then had to stand around and wait for about 10-15 minutes for the tour guide to fix the flat. Then after the trip on the Seine, when it is now about 11pm and we are meant to be just heading back to the headquarters, he somehow managed to destroy his rear-derailler. The bikes we were using actually had all the gears in the rear-axle, so there was no rear derailler to destroy, but there was a cable running from the gear changer to the rear-hub which he somehow managed to wreck. That meant that the guide had to carry his broken bike whilst we all went back at walking pace.

The other annoying person was another American, of course, who had obviously ridden in a bike group before, though didn't seem all that great a rider, so of course felt that it was her place to lead the group and do all the dicky little signals that bike group people do. When riding in a bike group the hand signals for slowing can be useful, but when riding in a slow-as bike tour they really aren't necessary. She also managed to get a flat tyre after the Seine trip and the tour guide didn't really want to fix another flat so he just pumped the tyre up as the trip shouldn't have been that far. But this girl didn't like that, so she gave the ex-army guy her bike to carry and she rode his. So there were two people carrying bikes. Then when we got to the headquarters she was trying to get ex-army guy a free t-shirt or something from the people, which I thought was totally unreasonable as he was the one who wrecked his own bike, and if he hadn't done that there wouldn't really have been a problem. So in the end we were meant to get back at 11-11:30am, but we didn't get back until 12:30, because of two stupid Americans who felt the need to show off.

That would have been alright with the bikes breaking and getting back late if the tour had actually been good. It was meant to start at 7pm, but we didn't get on the bikes until about 8pm, which meant that there was no time for stopping at any of the interesting buildings we passed and we also seemed to have to cycle quite fast between the few stops we did make so we couldn't really look around easily, but were instead focussed on traffic and pedestrians. We stopped at Notre Dame and an ice cream place, there must be some deal going on between that ice-cream place and the tour company because every night at least 25 people stop there and all buy ice-creams. But those were the only two stops when the guide actually told us about anything of the history. We cycled straight through the Louvre, and even though it looks really awesome at night and I'm sure there is some history there, we didn't stop at all. All the while our guide is yelling out at people on the street and at cars and taxis and just generally behaving like a loud-mouth American.

So I think the idea of a bicycle tour is a good idea and a tour of Paris at night is also really awesome and totally worth it, I really don't recommend Fat Tyre Tours, find a company that isn't American would be my advice.

The other thing I noticed on the tour is how similar Americans look, especially the guys. The ex-Army guy and the guide for the other group both had exactly the same nose as Andy Roddick and they all seemed to have the same shaped eyes and builds. It's funny how you can really start to pick different cultures just by the clothes they wear and what they look like.

I did manage to get some pictures of Paris at night, mainly of the Eiffel Tower. The second photo is when they do the light show, there is also a big beam of light shooting out of the top of the Tower and circling around all the time, which looks pretty cool.

1 comment:

Mana said...

Hi Annabel, apart from the beautiful sites there must be something enjoyable about Paris... right?