We would be totally remiss if we didn't include the innovative Vélib bicycle rental program as a viable form of transport in Paris.
Vélib is a feasible, economical and fun way to see the sights of Paris while getting some fresh air and exercise, but with some cautionary notes that we will tell you about below. Vélib is the largest bicycle sharing program in the world. So how does it work? There are 20,000 bikes available around the clock (yes they have lights) available from 1800 bike stations located within 300 metres of each other throughout the city. You can take a bike out from any station and return it to any other station as many times as you wish at a flat fee. You can literally see the entire city using Vélib.
Vélib short-term subscriptions are available at 1 day for €1.70 or 7 days for €8. You can pay with a bank or major credit card with a chip right at the Vélib Station. This gives you a pin # that allows you to checkout a bike from any station.
Be sure to check that the bike is in good repair before taking it, especially the tires, chain, pedals, and brakes. If the seat is turned backward, it is a courtesy sign from the previous rider that the bike has some issues. When returning the bike make certain that it is properly docked at the station. Be patient and wait for the two beeps and the green indicator light. If you fail to do this you could loose your full deposit.
The Vélib is intended for use in short periods of 30 minutes of less. If you go over the 30 minutes your card will be charged an extra €1 for each hour you go over. If you are wanting to ride farther just switch bikes at a station within 30 minutes. However, if you want to return your bike to a station that is full, (this happens quite often) you can use your pin number to add 15 minutes to your free time so you can find another station with available parking spots. You also get 45 minutes if you return your bike to a V+ Station.
Riding a bike around Paris can be nerve racking for some, especially if you are not used to riding bicycles in a busy city environment. There are many marked bike lanes to guide you and you may also ride in the bus / taxi lanes. There are some really nice places to ride along the banks of Canal St-Martin and the River Seine. Side streets are narrow and there are many pedestrians to watch for. Major streets including Avenue des Champs-Elysées', 'Place de l'Étoile', and 'Voie Georges Pompidou' (the lower express lanes along the banks of the Seine) are definitely places to avoid. Consider riding at night when the streets are quieter and the major landmarks are beautifully lit.
You can find our more about the Vélib bicycle rental program at the official website link above.
Official Website: http://en.velib.paris.fr/