About an hour outside of Paris, by the sleepy town of Gallardon, there’s a charming museum of antique bicycles and early vehicle inventions that is a must-see for anyone who has even a slight interest in cycling.
At the site of a former merchandise hall of the SNCF (The French National Railway company), the Musée Ateliers des Pionniers is a wonderful museum of early innovations and pioneers in transport. In this time of electric bikes, it’s truly fascinating to see inventions such as steam-powered and early motor-assisted bicycles.
There are permanent collections about the golden age of bicycles and cycling pioneers, as well as several interactive exhibits that bring early technological breakthroughs to life. There’s also a rotation of temporary displays that feature fascinating, obscure antique vehicles.
This is a tiny museum, in no way on the same grand scale of the ones in nearby Paris. As a result, it feels more personal and like a collection derived from passion rather than profit and is a delightful escape from the more touristy spots.
Know Before You Go
As a small privately run museum, it's open throughout the summer, though it's best to check (or better call) ahead of your visit. The museum is only open on weekends during the Spring and Autumn and closed from November to May.