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Happy Things in Paris: Vélib’

I am a huge fan of Vélib’, Paris’ public bicycle system. I think its one of Paris’ best kept secrets. If you are going to be in Paris more than a few days I highly recommend getting yourself a pass. If I could choose anyway to get around Paris I would almost always choose by bike. There is nothing like feeling the wind through your hair riding along the Seine, it automatically puts me in a good mood. It is especially easy to bike with the Vélib’ system. There are stations every few blocks through out the entire city so you can pick up the bike and drop it off wherever you go. If you are planning on biking a lot I would recommend getting a Navigo pass. This allows you to just swipe your card at a station and in about ten seconds you’re off (versus having to type in a million numbers at the Vélib’ station.) To get a Navigo you first have to buy a pass from a Metro station (just ask for the pass itself, without buying the Metro pass.) It costs about 5 Euros. Then buy a Vélib’ pass off the internet (8 Euros for the week) and then go to a Vélib’ bike station to activate your card and your membership.

Here are some tips for using the Vélib’.

-Buy the Vélib’ pass on the internet. American credit cards only work on the consoles about half the time.
-Have a good idea where you are going, and be aware of one way roads. There are great bike lanes all over the city but carry a map handy in case you need to change your route.
-Look at the tires and gears to make sure you are picking one that works.
-Bikes should stop at traffic lights and obey traffic laws.
-Buy a Navigo Pass at a Metro station for 5 Euros so checking a bike out is easy.
-I’ve only seen one Vélib’ user ever use a bike helmet. I’m not saying you shouldn’t I’m just telling you how it is.
-It can sometimes be tricky getting rid of all your bikes at one station if you are with a big group. Biking isn’t ideal if you are with a huge group.
-There are no child seats that work on the Vélib’. (I wish!)
-If you get to a station and it is full, you just swipe your card and it will give you 15 more minutes to get to the next station.

I realized this summer when I was taking friends around Paris that when my blood sugar got low and I wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere, that as soon as we got on a bike I would get all this energy. It is a great way to get around. It is a bit of a pain to get set up but once . It is one of my favorite things to do in Paris.

I was riding home with these giant dinner plate dahlias and they were so ridiculously giant and awesome so I called Paul outside to come take a few photos.

  1. Melissa - Keith Pitts Photography

    September 28, 2011

    Oh how your post makes me long for Paris! Thanks for sharing! Beautiful photos.

  2. Katie

    September 28, 2011

    Hey! We have this in Denver too. It’s pretty much the coolest…but I’ve never tried it while wearing shoes like that.

    Mad props

  3. Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris

    September 28, 2011

    It’s a great concept only a little difficult in practice sometimes. Those bikes are just so heavy! Plus I’m incredibly paranoid about biking though Parisian traffic so I gave up my subscription after the first year. Stay safe!

    xox Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris

  4. Rachel

    September 28, 2011

    I absolutely love biking systems like this. There’s a few now around Europe and they just started one in London when I left a year ago. I hope more cities catch on to such a wonderful trend.

  5. nsari

    September 29, 2011

  6. Erin

    September 29, 2011

    Other than walking, a fantastic way to get around (any) city! FYI: A couple of cities in the US tried this concept although unfortunatley it didn’t work out too well (ex: Charleston, South Carolina).

  7. teresa

    September 29, 2011

    How cool is that! and I agree your dress is divine!

  8. Misha

    September 29, 2011

    How awessomeee. I love reading your posts about Paris and your adventures…learning the ropes :) But, truth be told, it makes me insanely jealous 😉

  9. Kacy Faulconer

    September 30, 2011

    Do they punish people who smell the seats?

  10. Hilary

    September 30, 2011

    So adorable are you!

    BUT – Jordan – where is your helmet?! Eeeek! Being a San Francisco rider, I can’t even imagine leaving the house on my trusty steed without it. Nerdy, yes, but SF car and Muni drivers are too scary to risk it.


  11. Anneliese

    October 1, 2011

    What a fabulous system! I’ve never heard of it. And the photos are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen! Thanks.

  12. Kacie

    October 2, 2011

    Thanks for the tip! Do they have a way to hook up a baby seat? THAT would be fantastic!


  13. Sonja

    October 5, 2011

    Great advice! Thanks! Now I think I might actually try it when I am there this fall. :)

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