“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
— H. G. Wells (1866-1946)
During our July 2008 visit, bicycling was à la mode à Paris. The city had a year-old rental program that provided bikes for short-term public use. The bikes, known as vélib’s (a contraction of vélo, meaning bike, and liberté, which means free), can be rented at, and returned to stands throughout the city.
Launched on 15.July.2007 with 10,000 bicycles at 750 automated rental stations, each with 15 or more bikes/spaces, the program has proven to be a great success. Its popularity has caused the authorities to increase the number of vélibs to 20,000, at 1,450 stations.
Each station is equipped with an automated rental terminal and spaces for dozens of bicycles. At each station a map shows the location of all other stations. Each rental terminal displays the locations and numbers of available bicycles and free spots at neighboring vélib stations. If a rider arrives with a rented bicycle at a station without free spots, the terminal grants another 15 minutes of free rental time.
The system is based upon a subscription program, which allows each subscriber an unlimited number of rentals. Daily, weekly or annual subscriptions are available at a rate of 1, 5, or 29 euros respectively. For a rider with a subscription, bike rental is free for every trip’s first half hour; an unlimited number of these free trips can be made daily. A trip lasting longer than 30 minutes is charged one to four euros for each additionally 30-minute period. The sturdy gray vélibs weigh 49.6 pounds and feature three speeds; an LED light, that is always on; a lock; and a front basket.
Either a credit card or a debit card is needed to subscribe and to rent. The credit or debit card will be charged 150 euros if a rented bike is not returned. All French cards, most European cards are valid because they contain a secure EMV-chip; but few American credit/debit cards will qualify because they still use the less-secure magnetic strip.
Prices and other information are accurate as of this writing, November 2008.
Do not feel like walking? Then you next bet if you still want to get in excercise would be to rent a bike. There are various places where you can rent them from like at Les halles, Hotel de Ville, Bassin de la Villette, Bercy, Porte d'Anteuil, Bois de Vincennes. Opening times are from 10AM to 6PM.
You will be requested to leave a deposit of 150 euros, should you be unfortunate and have the bicycle stolen you will be charged 76 euros. I read an article that last year 130 of these bikes were stolen and some of them were found in Australia!!!
Saro - thanks much for the posts.
Supposedly, popping up on the web lately are threads "claiming" that Velib now accepts cards (without the chip) from American Express. The threads usually read:
"UPDATE (25 October 2007): The system now accepts American Express and JCB cards that do not have the EU smart chips! Good news for visitors that do not have an EU bank card."
Found one such thread / link here:
and another here:
You might want to check into it.
How a velib terminal can discriminate and accept a non-chip card from AMEX vs one from (e.g. Chase) is not clearly stated. Being an engineer / cynic, I would prefer some proof / verification before I get another AMEX card (most merchants in the US hate them due to high fees, which tells me Velib would also).
But good news IF it's true. I'm still trying to verify through the companies.
I am also contacting Eric Rayman (NYTimes) for proof / verification since he is quoted as the source.
If anyone knows for sure if this is NOT true, please post it here.
Hey Don / (Nemorino) - what's your 2-cents?
While in Paris, especially in sunny days, best way to explore this city is of course with this exciting Velib system. Their station at Sebastopol Bd - not far from Pompidou Center and "Les Halles" is one of the best places to use as a main station and surprisingly bikes are always available there. Enjoy...
Since the summer of 2007 there are grey bicycles all over Paris. They stand at the roadside and can be rented by inserting a credit card in a slot. Cost is half an hour free, one hour thereafter 1 euro, The scheme is very popular. When the time is over, the bicycle can be replaced at any of the bicycle stands throughout Paris.
There are specially designated tracks for cyclists, sometimes on the pavement, sometimes at the side of the road or with the bus track. A white bicycle painted on a blue circle may denote the track.
This city government system, with thousands of bicycles located all over Paris in "stations", allows you to rent a bicycle for one-half hour or less at no cost, and for longer at rapidly increasing rates, providing you have taken out a subscription (inexpensive). Those who wish to subscribe by the day or week do so at the automatic computer terminals located at the bicycle stations. You need a credit card for the day and weekly subscriptions, and presumably you are charged at least €150 if you don't return the bicycle. You can search in advance for bicycle rental stations by entering your address on the velib internet site mentioned above, but in theory they will soon be located every few hundered meters throughout Paris.
Brilliant idea of the Paris mayor : settle bicycle stations in the city.
The service is called VELIB and it has begun 15th July 2007.
You can take a ticket for 1 day (1 E) ou 7 days (5 E) at each station using your credit card. There is a caution which is debited only in case of problem.
With the card provided by the automatic station, you can take a Velib. Each person must have ones own card. You can go everywhere in Paris with the bicycle and leave it at an other station.
The first 30 min are FREE, the second worths 1 E, the others 4 E.
Each station is 300 meters from the nearest one.
The cunning way to use the Velib is to make a daily itinerary and to notice the adresses of the stations you need to use. You can check if the closest station from your hotel has ,at the moment , enough Velib, you take the Velibs you need and you go to your first stop to leave the bicycle there. If each ride lasts less than 30 min you do not pay any money.
At the time I write this tip, the experiment is new. So all the stations I saw are full of bicycles and it is the only concern because the users cannot leave their bicycles.
The City has forgotten to put less bicycles in each station than the number of bases but they transfer bicycles from a station to an other one to get the balance (see the 5e pictures)
The alternatives are : the bicycles of RATP (Metro) which are more expensive or those of VINCI Parking (the major parking lot company in Paris) which are completly free for their clients only (they even have tandems)
Since summer 2007 there is an exciting bicycle plan in Paris called Velib. You pick up a bike from one of the bike stations and leave it again at the bike station nearest to where you want to be. From there you do the same.
It's a very low cost, healthy and fun way to explore!
Click here for more info on how this works.
This summer, PARIS will put 10,000 bicycles on the streets at 1,000 stations throughout the city - more than 20,000 bikes will be available by the end of the year.
And the city will not pay a cent.
In fact, it will be making money from the project, to the tune of €34 million, or $46 million, over 10 years. And users of the service, called Vélib, will pay next to nothing: after a nominal subscription fee of €29 a year, the first half-hour of each trip will be free, and each additional half hour will cost €1.
Yes, it is possible to byke in Paris. And if you take some precautions, it can be quite safe too! You just have to dare, and if the wheather is fine, it can be a very nice way to discover the city.
the following web site will give you, in English, many practical infos, including a map of the bike paths. Many of those paths are also for roller-blades users and pedestrians.
Renting a bike is very easy in Paris, here are a few links in English
- roue libre is run by the french metro company, yes!!! They offer very good services, and I have been using them every once in a while!
- paris-vélo has 30 years of experience in renting, and have good price and services.
Every friday, the non-profit organisation paris rando vélo organises huge free only-bike tour in Paris, securised by many volunteers.
Meeting point is at 09.30PM in front of Hôtel de Ville. And every 3rd sunday at 10.30am.
If you are used to, or you are a little bit brave, you can rent a bicycle, for 9 € at day. Me and Eva did it, and we can see the city in a beautiful way. Paris is not a netherlandish city, but has some special rails. You can rent one near the Hotel de Ville.
Si esteu acostumats, o si sou una mica valents, podeu anar en bicicleta per París, per uns 9 € al dia. Jo i l'Eva ho vam fer, i vam poder mirar la ciutatdes d'un altra perspectiva, realment bonica. París no és una ciutat holandesa, però té carrils especials. poeu llogar-ne una al costat de l'Hotel de Ville.
If you wish to stop walking : ride a bicycle after renting it at RATP (the metro company).
You can get a bicycle at Les halles, Hotel de Ville, Bassin de la Villette, Bercy, Porte d'Anteuil, Bois de Vincennes. They are open from 10AM to 6PM.
You must leave a deposit of 150 euros and if the bicycle is stolen you are charged with a sum of 76 euros.
The week end, 1 hour = 4 euros, 1/2 day = 10 euros.
A week day : 7 euros for 1 day.
Perhaps in the countryside life can be more relaxed.
To stay dry it is necessary to go au natural to cross the water in the remote area. This picture make me smile. Comme des innocents dans le jardin d'Éden.
Renting a bike is the best advice I could give you during current strikes in Paris!
You can find these lovely white bikes with or without baskets (as on pic) with the ad of "Monoprix" in Les Halles Forum.
Renting is: 20 euro per weekend or 30 euro per week.
Thus, it's much cheaper to rent the bike for the week and have a real fun and pleasure to see Paris on bike!
If your tyre is flat, at any gaz station you can pump it up for free!
We can rent bicycle in Paris for touring Paris.... Touring with bicycle more easier to the small street and faster than walking.