Although Paris has some of the best public transportation systems in the world, nothing beats the fun of biking around the city. You can even rent a cheap public bike everywhere – the Vélib’. The city is well prepared for the two wheels and there’s lots of fun to be had.
If you are visiting or soon coming to live to Paris, it is a must that you get acquainted with the Vélib’ system. You are probably now wondering what this is…
Basically, Vélib’ is the big bike-sharing system run by the Paris Town Hall since 2007. To add some numbers to the scenario, there are more than 20,000 bikes distributed in 1,800 different stations located every 300 meters in Paris.
Nowadays, these types of bike-sharing systems are becoming more and more popular, being available in several cities around the world. Some of the main reasons are that they provide an excellent and extremely ecological way of wandering around in big cities.
As a visitor, the possibility of biking around provides the great opportunity to be always exposed to the city. In Paris, this is extremely important as it allows you to discover little spots that you would never discover if you decided to travel by Metro or bus.
But how does it work? To have access to the service, you can either buy a 1-day or a 7-day ticket online or at any Vélib’ station, respectively for 1,70 or 8 euros. If you are living in Paris, you can sign-up for a 1-year subscription for only 29 euros.
Once you have your ticket, you can take a bike in any station and use it for journeys under 30 minutes free of charge. If you keep the bike for more than 30 minutes, you will have to pay an extra fee (1 euro up to 1h, 2 euros up to 1h and 30m and 4 euros up to 2h). But there is a trick, if you need a bike for more than 30 minutes, you can just drop it in a station, wait a couple of minutes, and then take it back again.
The key conundrum around the Vélib’s is how to choose one, this can be a bit tricky. If you choose a “not-so good” Vélib’, it will be a pain in the bottom (literally). My advice? Check the brakes, chain and…look for bikes with clean tires, it’s the best indicator if the bike is fairly new.
If you are living in Paris and start using the Vélib’ very (likely) soon you will want your own bike. At least me and several other friends did…;D
Some of the info used in this article were partially adapted from the official Vélib’ website.