Have you Segway(ed) Paris yet?
Your feet usually transport you on a Paris
sightseeing walking tour.
Otherwise, the mode of transport might be riding a bike or touring by
bus. But have you ridden a Segway in Paris yet?
Remember back –
I have my Paris Segway legs now, but I can remember my first
encounter not so long ago. I was waiting for the sight of a Segway
underneath the Eiffel Tower.
I turned and there it was. Britt, a blond-hair, blue-eye,
Texan, was rolling back and forth and turning around in circles on this
It looked so strange.
The first time anyone in my group of seven touched the
Segway was to either drag it outside the office or push it outside – we
were such amateurs then.
Why people try this
The reasons for trying a Segway vary – but the end result
is the same – it is fun!
Our group was made up of Jen and Paul from Florida; Sandy
and Kean from New England and Tony and his son, Michael from Australia.
On their two-week vacation every year Jen
and Paul decide to do something different. Last year, it was ballooning;
this year, Segway(ing).
Sandy and Kean are staying in a friend’s
Paris apartment for a couple of months. Last year they saw the Segway
tour and decided that they would do it this year.
With no known Segways in Australia, Michael
found out about it at school. On a two-month European sabbatical, he and
his dad decided to try it during their short family Paris séjour.
Britt, our guide, couldn’t have
been more patient.
The most senior of the guides,
she just finished college in Texas. At the end of this season, she will end
her tour days and make a carrier move.
Personally, after so many
occasions of guiding groups (sometimes 10 a week) on Segways for the
past year, I don’t
know how she will be able to move without one!
How to ride
We went through an orientation with Britt on how to
handle the human transporter. She wanted us to feel relaxed and comfortable
with its movement and incredible stability.
It is just like starting to walk again
without moving your legs. Okay, I don’t want to scare you.
It helps to have a little bit of ski legs,
self-confidence and coordination.
Actually, you just pay attention to the
guide and check the green smiling face on the handlebar periodically and
get to know your traveling companions and you're off!
The left handlebar controls the turning;
leaning forward controls the speed, rolling onto your toes and rolling
to your heels makes it go forward or backward. Planting your feet makes
As beginners, we began with the “black” key
– which controls the slower rate of forward speed and the rate of speed
for turning right and
Traveling smoothly up and down small curbs,
powered by a twin NiMH battery, we made our first stop at the Musée de l’Armée.
Our first intersection was full of
after-work traffic with numerous intersecting streets, not the
Arc de Triomphe (thank goodness) but challenging all the same.
Undeterred, we were building our confidence
and having fun and crossing the streets in the pedestrian crosswalks.
One of the reactions as we traveled in a
neighborhood was a French man in his car who started laughing, pointing
at us and shaking his head.
You would have thought we were celebrities
when the heads of dining patrons whipped around to watch us pass.
Judging from the nonchalance of others, this
invasion of their neighborhood happens every day like clockwork.
Britt gave some historical notes along the
way, but this was more of a social occasion than a fact-finding tour.
The more we rode the transporter and became more comfortable with it,
the less we wanted to stop anyway.
We took a rest to admire the lights of Paris
and the water traffic on the Seine from the Passerelle Solférino and
made our way to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel to watch the twinkling
of the Eiffel Tower.
At the crêpe stand along the Champs-Elysées,
we turned off our transporters and took a break.
This break meant we were ready to advance to
the “yellow” key..... We had advanced to higher speed and quicker turns.
No whiplash, no scrapes, one fall, one
stumble, one scraping of fenders and tons of self-confidence later, we
returned to our starting point.
No on jumped off when we returned to the
office. In fact, the night manager wondered if she and Britt would have
to peel us off the transporters.
It was a relaxing tour and lots of fun. If
you are someone who travels often to Paris, I would recommend saving up
in your piggy bank and doing the tour.
What to bring along
I brought too much; I didn’t need all of my
reading material and odds and ends.
On a September evening for example, a
sweater, windbreaker, camera, credit card and some cash, gloves and a
The attached bag on the Segway is roomy
enough for two medium-size purses. Otherwise, someone is always at the
shop to watch larger items (e.g., backpacks).
You can bring water or else buy it at the
shop. Eat before you go at one of the brasseries in the area –unless you
have already planned for a late night supper.
Is it expensive I asked Tony....?
Tony and I agreed that the answer lies in
the big picture: It’s something special, it’s not available in Australia
and how often is one going to do it?
The tour costs 70 euros and reservations are
a must! They accept Visa and MasterCard.
The round trip tour took about 4 hours
(started at 6:30 p.m. and finished at 10:30 p.m.). It covers about 8 km; although the Segway has a 15 to 20 km battery limit.
They limit the group to 7 clients and 1
guide, so it is much more intimate than their bike trip.
They have a day tour and a night tour. I
took the night tour and except for it being difficult to take photos, I was
very happy with it.
The Segway night tours run between
April 1 - October 31*, every day at 6:30pm.
The day tour runs March 1 - November 30** at 10:30 a.m.
June 21 & July 14
**no tour July
The ball started rolling – or rather the
Michelin tires started turning on this CitySegway branch of FatTire Bike
Tours (formerly known as Mike’s Bike Tours – Paris) in 2003.
Dean Kamen invented this human transporter with “its intuitive controls
that guide the rider's natural motions”.
According to the internet information that I found, Segway is a
derivative of “segue” which means smooth transition from one place or
idea to another.
Night tour group
the Eiffel Tower
at 6:30 p.m.
the night tour
and I are on our way!
Day Tour mingling
Jardin des Tuileries
Day Tour on break
Day tour group