Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The One With the Flowers

Okay, Bike Tour time! Finally. If you haven't read my post about the YSL Expo and Les Invalides, scroll down and read that first. I mean it. Read it? Okay good. On we go to the Bike Tour.

So I got back from my trip with Isabelle at about 5:45, hurriedly changed into biking clothes, quickly ate an apple and went to the reception room to meet Maria at our decided time of 6:15. She was walking through the door at that exact moment...in a skirt. Turns out she had just gotten back from her own long day and had to change. Took her about 20 minutes, which meant we were rushing out of the Foyer and running to the train. Had to change the metro and then go about ten stops and then run around like lost people trying to find the Fat Tire Bike Tour office. We were following the directions on their website, but still failed. Finally, we got there at about 7:07 (for a 7:00 bike tour), breathing heavily, talking between gasps. Turns out we weren't even close to being late for the tour. There are several groups that leave in short bursts, and we were put in group six, which left right before 8:00pm. So we had some time to kill, doing nothing, watch the Day Bike Tour trips come back and the Night Bike Tour groups get their bikes and take off with their respective leaders.

When it came to our turn, I got a kid's bike (of course), we got into our group of 24 English-speaking people (from England, Australia, the States, etc.) and our very awesome American guide, Jackson. Very funny. Witty. Loud. Just the kind of person I like. He told us to stick together, follow his instructions, and DOMINATE the streets. So we did. And off we were into the streets of Paris. Biking through Paris: a lot of fun. Not half as scary as I thought. We almost killed a bunch of pedestrians, though. And pissed off a LOT OF cars and motorcyclists. Some pedestrians thought we were the Tour de France...hahaaa. It was a nice, breezy day, we all stuck together, and it was quite a relaxing enjoyable ride (especially since I'm used to biking every night back home and had quite missed the endorphin high).

Our first stop: the Notre Dame. We barely stopped to take pictures, but we had an interesting time trying to navigate the crazy amounts of people always crowding the courtyard in front of the Notre Dame. Almost ran into a few carriages. Next stop: the bridge right next to where I live, to get the best ice cream in Paris from Berthillon. The main store is literally on the street next to mine, but I've been avoiding it so I could save the experience for the bike tour. Berthillon itself was closed but almost every ice cream place on the island sells Berthillon, so Maria and I, like true residents of Isle Saint-Louis, went to the place that we know wouldn't have a crowd in front of it. Know what? Everyone on the bike tour followed us! Hilarious. I got a bowl of two scoops: cacao amer and framboise. Very good. Walked back to the bridge and enjoyed it with the rest of the group while we listened to Jackson's anecdotes about every historic site around us.

For example: apparently, Johnny Depp lives on my island. Um..woot. Why did I not know this before? Now I have to go stalk his apartment. Sigh. I can't believe this isn't common knowledge at the Foyer. We should have a bonding trip to hunt down Johnny Depp. Okay, but I digress. Back onto the bikes. And now, through the streets of Paris, to the Palais du Justice, which I've already been to. Stop for some stories, blah blah. Never got off the bikes. Next stop: Louvre. Where we did a few laps around the fountain in the courtyard before biking to the front with the beautiful glass pyramid. We actually were allowed to get off and take pictures this time!

After the Louvre, we continued through the streets, past a beautiful pedestrian bridge of picnicers, past a ferris wheel, through a beautiful park and down a ramp to get to the boat docks. We parked our bikes on the side of all the tour buses that were there and got on to our boat, called Les Bateaux Mouches. We made up only a small part of the all the crowd on the boat. There were at least eighty people on that boat, on both the bottom and top decks. We sat down in a group and waited for the tour to begin.

The whole ride along the Seine lasted about an hour, with an recorded tape announcing (in five or six languages) every time we passed an important historical site, and a bit of information concerning the site. By the time they got to the Mandarin translation, we had passed the site and the Chinese tourists were getting incorrect information. Unfortunate. But Paris at night, especially on the keys with all the tourists and the parties and the picnics and the music and the dancing, so beautiful. It was past ten and Paris is alive! It took me a while to figure out how to get my camera to take good pictures in the dark, but I got a few.

The back of the Conciergerie (mentioned in a previous post):

A bridge (every time we passed under a bridge, the whole boat screamed as if they were on a rollercoaster, and often the pedestrians on the bridge joined us in our ludicrousness):

Another night cruise (we passed quite a few, and a ton of them were quite lavish, with dinners going on inside, plants everywhere, themed decorations, one had a nightclub, etc.):

By a few, I mean I got forty pictures of just the Eiffel Tower. It's pretty. And we were so close. It's absolutely gorgeous at night.

As always, more pictures are up on the Picasa web album.
By the time we finished the boat tour, it was almost midnight. We got back on our bikes, plowed through a crowd of pedestrians and biked back through the still-jumping streets of Paris to the Fat Tire Bike Tour office. It was past midnight at this point and by the time Maria and I got back to the foyer, it was 1230am. In any case, it was a night very well spent.

Next post: Le Tour de France!!!

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