But cycling is a different thing. Paris started its own bike sharing scheme in 2007 and now Vélib’ is the largest cycle hire network in Europe. Despite having 1 bicycle per 100 inhabitants it’s not always obvious to find a bike in the nearest station, but the next station shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes walk away.
How to use a Vélib’
If you’re not going for a long term subscription you can choose between a 1-day ticket and a 7 days pass.
The tickets can be purchased online (en.velib.paris.fr) or directly at any bike station. In the latter case I recommend to find a quiet one or you might have to face the ire of the people queuing behind you.
The ticket comes with a code, which you will have to dial in each time you want to take a bike. Follow the instruction on the terminal screen and choose your bike.
When you need to return a bike just find an available slot and push the bike in. The led will turn from orange to green and give two confirmation beeps if the bike is correctly locked. If you want to be 100% you can print a receipt or try to pick up a new bike.
[box type=”bio”] If you reach a station but it’s full you can log in to get an extra 15 minutes to reach the nearest available station.[/box]
How much does it cost?
- 1-day ticket : €1.70
- 7-day ticket : €8.00
The first 30 minutes of each rides are free, then the first extra half hour costs 1€, the second extra half hour costs another €2. Each additional half hour from the third costs €4. As if to say that you really really shouldn’t use a bike for more than what’s strictly necessary. After you return a bike you can wait a few minutes and get a new one with 30 minutes free.
[box type=”info”] If anything goes wrong you should immediately call
Allo Vélib’ +33 (0)1 30 79 79 30[/box]
Station Maps and Vélib’ Apps
On the Vélib’ website you can find an interactive map, specifying the availability for each station.
However the best way to check this on the go is using a mobile app. There are two official Vélib’ apps:
AllBikesNow (Android, iPhone) and the official Vélib’ app (Android, iPhone). I haven’t tried those because the ratings aren’t great, so I opted for this, which did the job perfectly and it even offers push notifications with info on the nearest stations:
Or you can use the app I recommend for the bike sharing in London:
- Street’Bike London (Android)
Despite the misleading name it doesn’t only feature London but 290 cities, including Paris.