Recently my husband surprised me with a Trip to Paris! I honestly couldn’t believe it until we boarded the plane. With three kids it’s been 10 years since we had an adult’s only trip and we wanted to make sure to make the most of our time.
As I mentioned this was a “surprise” which means there was very little time for planning and packing. I did my best with what little time I had and started to search all things Paris and reach out to friends who visited recently. I had similar feedback and the typical answers but for some reason most people said they skipped Versailles simply because it was an all-day affair.
With only 3 full days (one of which we were jet-lagged) I agreed it made sense not to use one of our precious days on a full-day adventure… UNTIL I learned about Fat Tire Tours. I’m so happy I was able to partner with Fat Tire Tours very last minute and register for their last 2 spots remaining on the very popular Bike Tour of Versailles. It would prove to be a life changing experience I will never forget!
I was slightly worried that the description referred to the bike riding section as “athletic cycling”. What if we couldn’t keep up, or I fell off the bike, etc etc. I was also really worried about making it to our meeting spot on time since my husband and I were really unfamiliar with the city. Luckily the meeting details were very clear and we left extra time for our Uber. We arrived on time and seamlessly checked in with our tour guide.
Our tour guide handed us our train ticket for Versailles and told us a helpful tip such as “Hold on to your ticket until you disembark”. The train ride was about 45 min from Paris and let us out near the bike rental shop. Once we were given our bikes, had a quick lesson, and familiarized ourself with the bike we were off to the famous Versailles Open Market to select picnic supplies. The prices were fair and gave us a very “local” experience.
Our first moments on the bike were on the streets of Versailles. I was completely apprehensive and a little scared but follow our tour guides instruction and made it to the market area in one piece! We were told in advance to bring a backpack and Euro’s for picnic supplies. This was such a fun experience as my husband and I started at the bakery. It was hard to choose so we bought a lot of food. We bought sandwiches, cheese, baguettes, dessert, meat, wine, and then met back up with the group. We were given 45 min for this adventure.
Next, we followed our tour guide to an entrance of the Royal Gardens. This was something I will never forget as we biked along the tree lined paths with a cool breeze. Our group of 20 were the only ones along the trail and it was magnificent. We stopped along the way as our tour guide told us the rich history of the land, sites, French Monarchy, and everything else. She was truly a wealth of knowledge and made the tour so interesting.
The Grand Canal was truly incredible. After all, it did take 20 years to create by hand and it’s hard to tell from flat land, but it’s in the shape of a cross. We enjoyed our “Royal Feast” (picnic lunch) along the canal and this was definitely a highlight of the tour. The food and drink we purchased at the market was excellent. As relaxing as it was, we had to keep moving along because there was so much to see.
After lunch, we biked to Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet which was my personal favorite area. We learned so much history about the hamlet and were given 15 minutes to walk around, take photos and get a first hand look where Marie Antoinette spent so much time. Although she never spent a night in her Hamlet it’s where she stayed most of her days when we was not in the country area we would visit next.
Our tour guide took us to another area in which Marie Antoinette would escape to and pretend she was a commoner. Everything was 17th century and it’s hard to believe so many things are still present such as enormous trees, cottages, etc. We were given some time to walk around here as well and one could just image Marie Antoinette running around barefoot as it was recorded she did to escape her reality.
After some more touring of the grounds we made our way back to return the bikes before returning to the grand Chateau de Versailles. Included in our Fat Tire Tour was a skip the line pass for entry which saved us hours waiting in long lines. After a security check point we breezed straight in. Our amazing tour guide set anyone up with an audio guide that wanted it, and said farewell. She was the best!
Once inside my husband and I were on the clock. The gardens were closing early for filming and once you left the chateau you could not get back in. We had to make some decisions and since we could see the gardens clearly from the chateau we decided to spend more time inside.
As you can imagine, there are no words to describe the inside of Chateau de Versailles. It’s something you have to see for yourself. The Hall os Mirrors is a crowd favorite and this is the area where King Louis would greet his guest and where the Treaty of Versailles was signed to end World War I.
There were crowds in the area that could not be avoided but oddly enough it would empty out in waves. We walked around inside and even found little areas without any tourist which sparked an impromptu photo session! We didn’t want to leave but knew it was time to start making our way back to Paris on the train.
Since we were now on our own without the tour guide it was up to us to make it back which we managed to do with little difficultly. Fat Tire Tours gave us a once in a lifetime experience and I would highly recommend this tour as the best way to explore over 2000+ acres of royal property you would never be able to see on your own. I was so impressed with Fat Tire Tours, I’m now anxious to check out their tours in other cities such as London, Rome, New Orleans, Florence, Milan, Washington D.C., Munich, Berlin, Chicago, and Barcelona as well! Thank you Fat Tire Tours for an unforgettable experience!
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