Racing at the Tour Eiffel


This is the recent memory of an incident which took place on an earlier trip to Paris, a tiny moment of spontaneity and complete joy. Our son was not quite six. He was a wonderful urban traveler, who enjoyed drinking hot chocolate and playing Uno at sidewalk cafés, absorbing museums at the “extra-fast” setting, and simply running, whenever the opportunity presented itself. 


Sometimes, this running just occurred on a conveniently safe bit of sidewalk (always preceded by the question: "Can I run?" Parks and squares were even better, of course. And particularly great for running was any place that could be seen as representing a race track.


He was also insistent that we ascend any towers that we came across, so of course, the Eiffel Tower was a must. We spent most of a morning going up and down this heavily-visited tourist attraction, and then made our way back through the Champs du Mars, looking forward to some crepes, or cheese, or some other delightful Parisian lunch food. 


We spotted a small race course occupied by pedal carts, painted up to look like race cars. Our son, who was at that time absolutely obsessed with wheels, cars, and racing, watched wistfully. “I wish I could drive one of those,” he said, apparently believing it to be a private race of some kind that only the privileged few could enter. His face lit up when we told him that he too could drive a car. 

Soon, a few euros had exchanged hands and he was the proud driver of a racing car decorated with orange flames and the miraculous word “turbo”. Before we knew it, he was a going concern, and unlike most of the other kids on that little course, he treated it like serious business. Entirely focussed on overtaking and passing the other small drivers, he pedaled that car until he was red in the face. 


He was entitled to seven laps, but the proprietor clearly approved of his energy, because  every time he slowed to pull off the track, the proprietor waved him on, saying, “Allez!” We paid for one more set of a laps for him, but we lost track after awhile, and I know that he drove for more than his allotted fourteen. Finally, he pulled in, completely exhausted and absolutely happy.

I always remember this experience as one of those happy accidents that can happen when traveling with children. I doubt that a day at EuroDisney would have made him any happier than twenty minutes in a pedal racing car, passing all the other drivers on the track.

Photos: running at the Luxembourg Gardens; running at Les Halles; running at Saint-Eustache; racing at la tour Eiffel

© Leslie Wilkes 2016