I’m not going to lie. I’m an unabashed Francophile. One of my absolute Parisian fantasies includes me riding around Paris on a Vespa. Albeit, the image also had me rocking out French fashion and looking like a chic local. But, I’ve got some ways to go on that last part.
Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to turn the first part of that fantasy into reality and it was everything I had hoped! Incidentally, I’m also now pricing Vespas of my own but I’ll get back to you on that one. 😉
A Thrilling Time Sightseeing in Paris by Vespa
with Ride ‘n’ Smile + Win your own Vespa Tour!
In all seriousness, when I learned about Ride ‘n’ Smile Vespa tours, I knew it was the right type of experience for me. I’m not one for big bus sightseeing tours. I like to explore, to stop and go according to my own whims. I’m curious about my surroundings. When I join a tour, private and small groups are always my preferred choice. They’re personal and customizable. I have more opportunities to geek out and ask the guide all my questions.
Add to that, the opportunity to have a guided tour while cruising along on a Vespa? Well, the experience goes next level. Imagine discovering Paris’ top sights as a first-timer or exploring beyond these sights as a return visitor all while driving your very own Vespa!
I was sold instantly!
I decided on the half day Monuments and Pastries Tour. Tom from Ride ‘n’ Smile emailed me before the tour to confirm the details. He also asked about the places I was hoping to see to customize the tour to my liking. He explained all his safety recommendations and made it clear he’d stop the tour if at anytime the driver was unsafe.
On the morning of the tour, Tom met me at my hotel, Hotel de Buci. He had my helmet, warm gloves, and a lap cover for added warmth. Oh, and this shiny red Vespa! As Tom explained the basics of how to stop, go, signal, and of course, beep (It’s très Parisian to beep!), I worked on keeping my excitement in check. Geek out on asking questions, not while the guide’s talking about left and right turn signals.
Now, before you doubt whether or not you could drive a Vespa, consider that it had been some time since I last drove one. I absolutely needed to get the feel for it again. It’s beneficial to have driven a Vespa before. However, you don’t need years of experience either.
Luckily, Rue de Buci and the smaller roads into the 5th arrondissement were just quiet enough for me to get my feel. After a few wobbles and figuring out the balance between the accelerator and the brake, I was comfortably following Tom. How perfect it was to follow a guide, without worrying about maps or getting lost, and just enjoy feeling like a local seeing Paris from a whole new vantage point!
Before I knew it, we were in front of the Pantheon, exploring the oldest street in Paris, and discovering a hidden Roman arena used for Gladiator battles 2000 years ago.
We hopped off our Vespas to go inside the Arènes de Lutèce, which is now a public space where kids play and locals sit in the former amphitheater seats. Tom explained how the arena was actually covered for many years before being rediscovered in the late 1800s.
From there, we zipped over to Notre Dame, which has long been my favorite Paris sight-to-see.
One of the great things about a Vespa is they’re easy to park. We had the flexibility to stop whenever and wherever we wanted. First, we stopped at an excellent vantage point to admire the Cathedral’s gorgeous flying buttresses hidden from the novice visitor who only takes in the landmark head on.
At the front of the Cathedral, Tom gave details about Notre Dame’s architecture and explained how the Cathedral was actually slated for demolition in the early 19th-Century! (Yep, you read that correctly!)
Wondering how Notre Dame lived to see another day? I’m not going to spill all the beans! Go and see Tom for a Ride ‘n’ Smile Vespa tour! He’ll give you all the details. 😉
If you’ve ever had a wildlife guided walk through a forest, then you know how amazing it is when the guide spots the tiniest of creatures despite its best attempts at camouflage. Good city guides have the same keen skills.
While off the Vespa near Notre Dame, Tom stopped to point out a building with a hidden-from-view gash in its side. No one, local or visitor, would ever notice this. When your guide’s an expert on local history, though, small details like this come alive. Tom explained how the street was the scene of a WW2 battle between the Germans and the French Resistance. The view of my surroundings changed instantly. I could nearly see the German tank rolling down the tiny street.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Moving forward (thankfully not in reverse!), the tour continued through the morning with stops at the Opera Garnier, Place Vendome, and a secret rooftop for a unique birds-eye view of the city.
We parked our Vespas to get a closer look at the stunning Palais Royal, the former residence of Louis XIV, just near to the Louvre. Past the palace’s unassuming entrance lies a courtyard full of history, art, and fun facts that touch on everything from Napolean’s virginity (Was that in your history books??) to the uneven Buren columns and their interesting take on perception in space to a cannon formerly used for time-telling.
Oh, and did I mention the gardens now used by locals to stroll and enjoy their city’s greenspace?
Continuing from here, we hopped back on our Vespas and circled through the Place de la Concorde. I was hoping we’d turn right onto the Champs-Élysées. But, when we did, I gasped aloud! As much as I love the 5th and 6th Arrondissements, it was thrilling to be on my Vespa riding up this grand boulevard with the Arc de Triomphe ahead in the distance.
“Life is certainly made of precious moments and the best way to pay for them is to enjoy them!”
The last parts of the tour included a stop at Les Invalides, a cruise past the Eiffel Tower, and a stop at a French patisserie to buy a sampling of flavors for a signature French sweet. (Hint: Not macarons!) I loved these longer stretches of driving. I focused on the road, of course, but also on savoring the experience and absorbing daily in life in Paris.
Finally, we drove with our treats to a vantage spot along the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower in view and spoons in hand.
It had been such unforgettable morning and, as much as I wanted to hop back on my Vespa, I knew it meant the tour was coming to an end.
What to Know about Ride ‘n’ Smile Vespa Tours
Ride ‘n’ Smile has 4 offerings on their website, a full day Vespa & Pastries Tour, a half day Monuments and Pastries Tour, Paris by Night, and an Illuminations Tour. Tours range from 39€-239€ per person.
You can also customize your own Vespa Tour if you’d like to explore Paris from a different angle. Maybe you’d like to see Paris through the eyes of Victor Hugo. Or maybe you want to discover street and public art exhibitions. How would you like to walk in the footsteps of Hemmingway and Renoir through Montmartre? The guides at Ride ‘n’ Smile are happy to put together a tour based on your interests and curiosities.
Every tour includes:
- Top-End Vespa Scooter (Recently Serviced)
- Third-Party & Body Injury Insurance
- A Private Guide
- Included Gas
- Unlimited Mileage
- Instant Souvenir Picture
- Wet Weather Gears
If your tour is on a cold day, your Vespa will also have a leg covering to keep you warm like mine did. You must be 18 years or older to drive a Vespa and have a valid driver’s license. Each tour has up to 2 Vespas for a maximum of 4 people (2 on each Vespa). Most importantly, passengers riding along on a Vespa should be at least 10 years old and/or able to reach the footrests on either side of the vehicle.
Win 1 Half-Day Vespa Tour in Paris
for 2 People with Ride ‘n’ Smile!
So, are you ready to zip through the streets of Paris on your very own Vespa? Which Paris Vespa tour would you like to take?
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