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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. vicky trainor

    September 27, 2011

    not only do i want that bike but i also ‘need’ that dress!!! Fabulous.

  2. Lindsey

    September 27, 2011

    You’re the most fashionable gal on a Vélib! Bravo!

  3. Liz @ Bella Vita

    September 27, 2011

    Lovely. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Nicole

    September 27, 2011

    I love your floral dresses! Do you buy them online? If so, where?

  5. Michelle

    September 27, 2011

    Beautiful pics! You have some talent for biking in wedges!

  6. victoria

    September 27, 2011

    such a beautiful post! i wish i could have gone for a ride!

  7. Alexis

    September 27, 2011

    Wow. That is very cool. And I am loving your dress just as much! Did you make it??

  8. Rachel S.

    September 27, 2011

    I absolutely loved the Velib when we were in Paris this summer. Oh how I wish that had been in place when I was a student in Paris! Life would’ve been so much easier!

  9. ashley

    September 27, 2011

    I loved doing this last time I was in Paris….it is so much fun!

  10. Gwendolyn

    September 27, 2011

    I was just reading that Susan B. Anthony called Bicycles “Freedom Machines” which is awesome

  11. Sarah @ Knit York City

    September 27, 2011

    They just announced a program like this coming to NYC! I am really excited for it since I don’t have anywhere to store a bike. Happy riding!

  12. Alayna

    September 27, 2011

    Velib is awesome, but not as awesome as those wedges! Love! Where did you pick them up?

  13. Anglopologie

    September 27, 2011

    This was one of my fav things about Paris and you captured it perfectly.

    Thanks for bringing back some good memories!

  14. Jamie

    September 27, 2011

    That is so cool! The small town I lived in last year had a system such as this, but everything was free. I hope they bring something like this to Louisville!

  15. Sigrid

    September 27, 2011

    I love this post in so many ways. You are helping people know a bicycle share works in your city, you look photo shoot ready with that great dress and flowers, and you enjoy it. Thank you for sharing. Riding a bicycle is one of the best things you can do for yourself, plus it makes an ordinary day so much more of an adventure – case in point, bringing flowers home. 🙂

  16. Heather

    September 27, 2011

    Wow! Great tip! This is going in my “Must-Do’s in Paris” document asap! 🙂

  17. mary

    September 27, 2011

    biking is indeed wonderful. you need a helmet, though.

  18. Alexis Ward

    September 27, 2011

    This is so awesome! I love living in a bikable town! My husband and I both have beach cruisers and love to bike around to run errands, go to the beach or just get out and stretch our legs. I wish more big cities in the US would have bike share/rental programs like this. I would totally love to explore the cities I visit on a bike.
    PS Another fun tip — a lot of cities in Europe offer bike tours. It is such a fun and inexpensive way to tour a city! I did one in Munich that was so memorable and great.

  19. emily

    September 27, 2011

    i think public bikeshares are genius.

  20. Courtney

    September 27, 2011

    your posts about Paris just make me drool. one of my boy & i’s favorite things to do together is ride bikes…so happy I would be able to convince him to ride with me should we ever go to Paris! And they are also introducing a system like this in Chicago within the next year or two!

  21. Anna

    September 27, 2011

    I love that you told us about these bikes since I didn’t know that there is something like this in Paris as well!
    Right here in Vienna, where we have the same bikes, you’re allowed to use the bike 1 hour without paying for it (I never used it longer than that) and there is also an Iphone app showing you stations with available bikes and where you can return them later in realtime.
    Also the registration is quite easy and you can either register with Credit or ATM card!
    (Another reason to see Vienna! =)

  22. Stasha

    September 27, 2011

    Hee hee – I see you adjusting the strap on your sandal! I bought the same ones and I can’t keep the strap around my ankle. 🙂

    We have blue bikes like that in Nice and they are so fun to ride up and down the Promenade des Anglais.

  23. Jacquie

    September 27, 2011

    I LOVE VELIB! (but have you heard the system in Lyon is Ve-love, much more creative, I think)…

    ps, have you hear about this?!

    now it is getting harder and harder which city to choose from!

  24. Mariela

    September 27, 2011

    Lovely dress and flowers, also good information, have a nice day.

  25. Abby B

    September 27, 2011

    More amazing insight from Paris! You’ve given me so many ideas for things I want to try when we go to Paris (eventually). I regret that we didn’t give the public bicycles a try when we were visiting Milan, so I’m determined to not miss out again.

  26. LESLIE

    September 27, 2011

    There is a similar system in London. We were there earlier this month and my kids were begging to use the bikes! We’ll have to wait until their legs are a bit longer.

  27. Sarah @

    September 27, 2011

    I truly truly adore this! Those bikes are so awesome. Such a good idea. We somehow need to get this in the states. Your dress with the Dahlias are lovely too =)

    – Sarah

  28. Jenna {Jenna Sais Quois}

    September 27, 2011

    That’s amazing! Seems like a great way to get around Paris. Wish they had something like it in the States. P.S. Amaaaazing dress! Is it vintage?

  29. Sarah

    September 27, 2011

    I love that these sorts of biking systems have been springing up all around the world – we have them here in Australia too but they are slightly less convenient in that you have to, by law, wear a helmet, so even if you’re just hiring a bike, you still have to cart your own helmet around with you.

    Those flowers are gorgeous too by the way! I think one of the biggest reasons I want my own vintage-style bike( is because I want to be able to ride around with flowers and fresh baguette’s in my basket!

  30. Dee

    September 27, 2011

    Oh how I wish you posted this back in May haha! We so wanted to try Velib but couldnt figure out how! We were put off by the 200 euro security deposit, didnt know we could do it through the net.. Well, next time 🙂

  31. Kristina Gulino

    September 27, 2011

    Bah! How cute you are. I totally need to get a bike!

    Something 2 Write About

  32. Jiyoonie

    September 27, 2011

    the dress is perfect

  33. Natalie

    September 27, 2011

    We love Velib as well! However, we were only in Paris for about 4 days and planned solely to use Velib due to a Metro strike. Poor us, our American credit cards did not work at all for renting the bikes! No matter how hard we tried! (This was a few years ago.) And we didn’t know about buying the pass from the Metro station first. Sigh. We were heart broken. Our time was still enjoyable, but now we just have to go back so that we can finally use Velib! And P.S. You look SO lovely and graceful on a bicycle!

  34. mandyk

    September 27, 2011

    love this post. makes me want to move to paris with a bike and a dress. 🙂

  35. everton terrace

    September 27, 2011

    Oh to be riding around Paris on a bicycle with a basket full of flowers…does it get more dreamy than that?

    We were in D.C. last month and they have a similar set up – we rented bikes and rode around the national mall. It was so much fun 🙂 Your dress is adorable!

  36. Haylee

    September 27, 2011

    Absolutely gorgeous dress.
    How I wish I would have seen this post before my trip to Paris last June! You have such great ideas. I guess that just gives me another excuse to visit again. 🙂

  37. Miss K

    September 27, 2011

    That pic of you biking in front of the Eiffel Tower is the photographic equivalent of “dreams can come true”.

  38. jackie

    September 27, 2011

    We have this too in Washington DC.
    love your blog!

  39. Iris

    September 27, 2011

    Hoe fun…I remember seeing these bikes everywhere in Paris, but never got around to riding them. Adorable dress. I ride to flower shop too and love carrying them in the basket…something super cool about it, huh?!?

  40. Iris

    September 27, 2011

    Oops….I sooo did not mean to say Hoe on my previous message LOL…I meant HOW FUN.

  41. Marchelle

    September 27, 2011

    Love this post! (so much so that I had to “Pin it”) Thanks for sharing all the details of the do’s and don’ts; in the event I ever get back to Paris (one of my favorite cities, though SF is still a fave ’cause I’m originally from the Bay Area), I will SURELY be cycling next to the Seine so I can soak in more of the sights, sounds and smells of that marvelous city!

    sidenote: I adore your outfit here!

  42. GawgusThings

    September 28, 2011

    You haven’t warned everyone about the crazy french drivers who try to run you off the road when you’re on one!!!

  43. Emily

    September 28, 2011

    We have the equivalent in Dublin and they have been the most successful idea to bring here. I’m always a little nervous to use them in the city centre (even though i cycle to work regularly!) because there are so many one-way streets I know I’d get all turned around!

  44. Laetitia

    September 28, 2011

    Hi Jordan

    You might already know about it, but I thought it’s the kind of event you’d like to attend, maybe with your kids.

    Here’s a link in english

    LOVE your blog!!
    A frenchy leaving in Paris 😉

  45. Jennie Prince

    September 28, 2011

    I’m crazy in love with your shoes! They are so sweet! Everything about this post makes me smile ear to ear. =)

  46. Anna

    September 28, 2011

    Hi jordan, my family and i are spendig 2 nights in Paris in late December. Have you done any posts on what to do with children in winter in Paris!! And if so please could you direct me to them. My boys are 8 and 6.

    PS. I LOVE your dress in these shots!

    Anna from South Africa.

  47. Steph

    September 28, 2011

    I was in Paris this summer and went on a bike tour and learned all about this program – I keep raving about it in Philadelphia, hoping it will catch on. Love your posts!

  48. Susan Hazel

    September 28, 2011

    Riding a bike along the Seine sounds absolutely perfect to me right now. Also, love, love, love that floral dress. Well done. : )

  49. Joanna

    September 28, 2011

    Hi Jordan, I absolutely love love love your dress…please tell us where you got it! These photos are so gorgeous….Thank-you!

  50. Summer

    September 28, 2011

    Love this post! Very infomative, and you look fabulous! Paris doesn’t have a thing on you. 😉

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