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As part of the mayor’s plan to reduce traffic and congestion, starting July 15th, the city of Paris is commencing with a program called Vélib’ where you can borrow one of their 20,000 low-cost bicycles. The city has installed lots of bike lanes in anticipation, although pedestrians (and dogs) make such frequent use of them that bicyclists usually have a bit of tricky maneuvering to do.

Still, for just €29 for annual membership, you can grab a bike from any of the hundreds of stations scattered around Paris (there’s one every 300 meters apart in the city) and ride it free for 30 minutes. After that, it’s 1euro; for the next half-hour, €2 for the second half-hour, and €4 for the next half-hour. They’re not too keen on folks holding onto the bikes for so long; the idea being to hop on a bike to make an errand then drop it off.

You must have a credit card with a microchip, or a puce, in order to rent a Vélib bicycle and many American credit cards don’t have one.

UPDATE: They are now allowing people to sign up and rent bikes via their website, so those who don’t have the microchip can apply. Click on the “English” flag on the website (below) and follow the instructions.

More info can be found here (in French and English).

And there are also private bike rental outfits, such as Paris Bike Tours, which rent bicycles by the hour or by the day. Buzibi also rents electric bicycles, too.


For more tips on Paris travel, click on Paris Travel Tips and My Paris.



    • Lu

    David, this is great information for our next trip. You are truly a (chocolate) fountain of information.

    • David

    Lu: I like the fact that you can go to a bakery or pastry shop to sign up!

    • Jessica

    Great information, thank you David! I’ve sent this link to Jackie (the Aussie you met at Ici) who’s currently in Rome but will be in Paris soon! By the way — made the Rocky Road last night. Mon DIEU.

    • izzy’s mama

    I was wondering what those “stations” were. Thanks for solving the mystery. It is a great idea but you won’t catch me venturing into Parisian are brave, aren’t you!

    • Kim

    Do we have confirmation on the metro ticket machines not accepting US cards? I only ask when I was there in June 2006 they accepted my US card, so did they get all new machines since then? Or some do and some don’t – and it’s anyone’s guess which is which?

    • Steamy Kitchen

    wished ‘le ticket’ included ‘le airplane’

    • David

    Kim: One time I tried to use my US card, it got rejected. So I went yesterday to see if that was a one-time fluke. And…of course, the machine was broken.

    I do know for a fact the train ticket machines at the various SNCF gares don’t accept US-based credit cards, although their web site does.

    I’ll try to find a machine that works and post an update here…


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