While I am in Paris I get around by bike. The Metro is good, but you really get to know a city and develop a sense of its geography and culture when you travel its streets rather than scurrying around in dark tunnels underground. Fortunately, in Paris you can easily navigate the city streets using the cities bike-share scheme, known as Vélib’.
Paris was the first capital city in the world to introduce a bike-share scheme which it launched back in 2007. Today there are just under 24,000 bicycles that are available around the clock from 1,800 self-service rental stations situated approximately every 300 meters throughout the city. Smartphone users can use a free app to locate bike stations and see how many bicycles and spaces are available.
Some people might be a little daunted at the prospect of riding a bicycle in Paris, but with more than 700 km (430 miles) of dedicated cycle lanes and routes throughout the city, riding here is actually very safe. In fact, Sundays and public holidays are possibly the safest days to ride thanks to a scheme called ‘Paris Respire‘ (literally ‘Paris Breathes’) that closes many of the cities roads to vehicular traffic between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
Not only is the Vélib’ bike-share scheme an enjoyable and healthy way to experience Paris, it’s also easy on the pocket. While a one-off daily Vélib’ ticket costs €1.70 giving you as many free 30 minute rides as you can fit in 24 hours, a single metro ticket cost €1.80 per journey! Yes, you can make that cheaper by purchasing a book of metro tickets or getting a weekly or monthly pass, but a yearly subscription to Vélib’ reduces the daily rate to just under 11¢! What’s more, as a subscriber, your free rides are increased to 45 minutes, and even a slow rider can easily complete most trips within the city in that time.
However, as keen as I might be about the Vélib’ bike share scheme, I don’t think I would attempt to ride one of these 22.5 kilograms (50 pound) bikes to Mont Blanc which is exactly what one group of Velib’rs did earlier this month! The journey of 712 kilometers (442 miles) was completed in just two days by a group of four cyclists!
Using Google’s street view, you can stand on the street where I took this picture.