This ultimate Paris by bike guide covers the following subjects:
- 2020: Paris, the World Cycling Capital
- Discovering Paris by bike
- Your own bike in Paris (rental and purchase options)
- Where to park your bike
- When things go wrong
- Tips to fully enjoy Paris by bike
- Final note
1- 2020: PARIS, THE WORLD CYCLING CAPITAL
Environmentally friendly, cheap, healthy and surprisingly convenient for navigating perilously congested city streets, the bike is becoming the preferred mode of transport for more and more people in Paris. Paris wants to become the World Cycling Capital in 2020! Thanks to the policy of the Paris City Council, the bicycle is gaining ground also on the streets with more than 200 km of bicycle lanes and additional 70 km of bus lanes also accessible to cyclists. The City’s ambitious goal is to double these digits and reach a 15% of trips made by bicycle by 2020.
2- DISCOVERING PARIS BY BIKE
Where to go by bike in Paris?
A free “Paris à Vélo” map, published by the City Council, is available at all tourist information centres. You can also download and print this map here.
A good option for visitors who want to discover Paris and have fun is to join the weekly free rides proposed by Paris Rando Vélo association. These bike rides happen every Friday evening and every 3rd Sunday of the month. The meeting point is always Hôtel de Ville and the rides last around 2 hours (20-24 km). There is no inscription, you just need to be there on time and listen to the itinerary description proposed by the organizers and security information.
If you don’t like the guided thing, another source of “Paris by bike” proposals is our WorldinParis blog , we go on exploring the City of Light for you!
If you know exactly where to go you can use this cool online calculator which allows bikers to prepare their ride in advance (recommended itinerary, safest itinerary . .) and calculates the time to go from A to B. To be used without moderation 😉
For our everyday rides we like to use this (free) mobile application, maps.me. It works offline but you need to download the maps (e.g. Paris and its surroundings) previously. The application shows the best itinerary and calculates the time to reach your target, even if the times are “very sporty”.
3- YOUR OWN BIKE IN PARIS
No matter for how long you are visiting Paris, you can have your own bike to discover the City of Lights at your own path. Find here all the proposals that Paris has to offer:
Vélib is the public bike sharing system in Paris, available 24h/7d and with more than 1.800 bike stands spaced every 300 metres across the capital. You have different hiring options, from 1.7€ day tickets to 8€ weekly tickets or 29€ yearly subscriptions. These tickets give you access to any Velib in the city and the first 30 minutes of your ride are free. Return the bike to any parking stand before 30 minutes are up, wait a few minutes and then check out a new bike to avoid expensive excess time charges. A leisurely ride from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, for example, takes 15 minutes which is faster than taking the bus or subway.
New ! Since June 2016 le p’tit velib is here for young Parisians! Learn more about this new service for children between the ages of 2 and 8 years (4 different types of bikes) here
OTHER BIKE RENTAL OPTIONS
If you prefer a bicycle more adapted to your needs, try other bike rental options in the city. In these stores rental prices are around 15€/day. These bike rental options are also convenient if you decide to do side trips outside Paris for the whole day where there are not Vélib stands.
Alló Vélo, 2 rue Beauregard Paris 75002 opens daily from 10.00 to 19.00. You can contact them by email (allovelo at gmail dot com) or by phone (+33 140 353636). http://www.allovelo.com/
Paris Bike Tour, 13 rue Brantôme Paris 75003 opens daily from 9.30 to 18.30pm. You can contact them by email (vincennes at parisbiketour dot net) or by phone (+33 9724742 10). http://parisbiketour.net/location-velo-paris/
BUYING A BIKE, WHY NOT?
If you are thinking about an extended stay in the City of Light why not having your own bicycle, that bike perfect for YOU? You can buy your bike in Paris and sell it quite easily when leaving the city. Also, you may fall in love with your new bike and decide to take your French wheels home.
L’Hirondelle – Bike Shop, 103 rue Blomet Paris 75015. It opens Monday from 10h30 to 18h and from Tuesday to Saturday from 10h30 to 19h30.
Bicycle Store, 17 Boulevard du Temple Paris 75003. It opens from Monday to Saturday from 10.00 to 20.00.
Giant Store Paris XII, 72 Cours de Vincennes Paris 75012. It opens from Tuesday to Saturday roughly from 9.00 to 18.00 (different schedule depending on the day).
Of course, there are other bike stores in Paris, you will find all the addresses here.
THE VINTAGE TOUCH
Paris has got right into the retro trend! For any urban gal or guy on the go, the hunt for the perfect bicycle is almost a rite of passage. In this day and age, cycling has become both an ergonomic lifestyle and an international fashion zeitgeist. The city of Paris is no exception and Parisians like to ride on fashionable bikes, being vintage bikes the trend of the moment.
Add a vintage touch to your Parisian days and explore the City of Light with style, you can buy a vintage bike in totally awesome bike shops in Paris or just buy it online from your computer. These are our proposals:
18 Vélo Vintage, 58 rue du Ruisseau Paris 75018. It opens from Tuesday to Friday from 17.00 to 20.00 and on Saturday from 12.00 to 20.00. Inspired by 80’s, their bikes are flashy with trendy collector items. http://velo-vintage.com/index.html
New ! World in Paris Vintage Corner. For us, vintage is more than a temporary trend, it is a state of mind. Have look at our online Vintage Corner , full of cute Paris-vintage proposals especially chosen for YOU travelers . Of course, vintage bicycles have a special place in our Vintage Corner.
LIGHT AND HANDY: THE FOLDING BIKE
A folding bike makes a great travel companion for people on extended stays in the City of Light. This kind of bicycle rides and shifts as smoothly as a fancy full-size touring bike. Only 15 kgs, it packs into a wheeled suitcase and does not take up much space in the hotel room. We like the retro-looking Brompton bike (designed in the 1960s) and available in different bike stores in Paris . We also like Falcon Men’s Fold Away Bike, available online.
4- WHERE TO PARK YOUR BIKE
During the day you can park your bicycle almost everywhere as long as you have a good and robust padlock. During the night, leaving a good bike outside can be an issue. To solve this the City Council in partnership with SNCF and RATP (the train and RER companies) are implementing the service Véligo. Véligo is a kind of secured deposits for bikes opened 24h/24h and always close to the Parisian train stations. The idea is to equip Paris with more bike-parks and to favour the combination of bike + train for longer journeys. These deposits are available after paying an annual subscription of 20€ and having a valid Navigo card. More information here
5- WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
Even if rental bicycles are checked periodically, s*!XX!it happens and you can get stuck in the middle of Paris.
New ! If your bike has problems and you are far from your favourite shop you can call Cyclofix, a new business born in Paris less than one year ago but very successful already. The concept is very simple: the Cyclofix guys ride to the biker’s location (at home or wherever he got stuck) to repair his bike on site. So no more need to leave your bike in a store for 24-48 hours to be repaired, how cool is that?
New ! Another cool service that just opened few months ago is the café-vélo La Chouette (20 rue du Château d’Eau, Paris 75010), a café-bike store where you can have your bike repaired while enjoying your café & croissant in a very nice atmosphere. Very Parisian!
6- TIPS TO FULLY ENJOY PARIS BY BIKE
The City Council is doing a big effort to promote the use of bicycles in Paris but there is still a long way to overtake other bike-friendly cities like Berlin or Amsterdam. In our opinion more “bicycle pedagogy” is necessary in Paris, especially amongst the car drivers who tend to open their car doors without checking if there is a biker coming behind!
Even if you have been biking all your life, please take a couple of minutes to read our tips & advice for Paris included in this Paris by bike guide :
CHECK regularly the condition and pressure of your tires to avoid any incident. Also check your brakes regularly and the bike light, especially if you want to ride at night.
RESPECT the highway code, like any other vehicle. Advertise your maneuvers and changes of direction in advance and do not take unnecessary risks.
Unlike American cities, where cyclists obey the same rules as vehicles, Parisian cyclists observe separate rules of the road. The general rule is to stick to marked bike paths, which variously and confusingly go with or against traffic, move from sidewalks to streets and back. These bike paths are dedicated for bicycles only, or may be shared with taxis and buses so stay vigilant.
LEARN the Paris signaling. For clarity and security, the City of Paris has created a specific signaling. Thus, cyclists can easily identify bus lanes where they cannot move. These corridors are explicitly signaled by signs located under the signs.
These new signs below are located under the traffic lights. The yellow arrow shows the biker the direction to take after the crossing (to the right or straight ahead).
Example: the traffic light is red for cars but the panel authorizes bikers to turn on the right.
This authorization does not give any rights to cyclists: they are not the priority. To cross the red light, cyclists should exercise caution and respect in all circumstances the priority given to other road users, particularly pedestrians that they must always give way. If the panel does not exist, bikers must stop at the red traffic light.
Parisians are famous for breaking the rules so watch out for scooters (they like to use bicycle lanes from time to time) and pedestrians (sometimes they just don’t respect red traffic lights). You are warned.
REMEMBER that in Paris city buses have priority. Be very careful when approaching a bus stop riding after a bus, the bus can brake suddenly. A bus parked at a stop can also get back on track at any time. To avoid danger, keep a good safety distance and never overtake a bus on the right.
And last but not least, avoid drinking alcohol before biking in Paris, you will need all your neurons “on”!
At the beginning biking in Paris may look a little bit scary but after a couple of days you will get used to it and you will have a great time. We truly believe that biking is the best way to discover Paris and we hope this post will encourage you to take a (or your) bike in the City of Light. Now that you have read this Paris by bike guide you are ready to go, enjoy the City of Light : -)
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