Vélib is a bike sharing system that is very popular among tourists and locals alike. It’s available 24-hours a day, as long as there is a bike available in the station near you. You can purchase a 1-day ticket online or at any Vélib station for €1.70 or a 7-day ticket for €8.00. This system is self-serviced and all you need to do is just follow the instructions on the screen at the terminal. After payment, you choose a bike and enter the bike number, wait for the green light to take the bike out of its station, and you are on your way. You can return the bike at any Vélib station by pushing the bike clip into the post. According to the website, you will know that the bike is returned and locked correctly if the light changes from orange to green, followed by two successive beeps. It is advised to print a receipt at the station to confirm the return of the bike.
This seemed like a fun and cheap way to navigate the city, but the caveat is that the first 30 minutes of your journey is free (granted that you paid €1.70 for the day), and anything that goes above 30 minutes is subject to fees. According to their website, the first 30 minutes after the first “free” 30 minutes will cost €1, the second 30 minutes €2, and from the third additional 30 minutes, it will cost €4 per 30 minutes. Your free 30-minute journey resets every time you return the bike. Another thing to note is that sometimes a station may be completely out of bikes, and another station may be full of bikes, requiring the traveler to move from station to station to either look for a bike or an empty spot to return the bike. There are numerous stations throughout the city, so it may not take too many attempts to find what you need, but it may be wise to take this into consideration for your free 30-minute ride.
Our hotel offered free bike rentals whenever they were available, but the only day they were available was on a rainy day, and we did not feel comfortable riding in the rain or in traffic when we weren’t too familiar with the Paris traffic laws. If you know that your destination is not too far and feel comfortable with navigating the city on a bike, give Vélib a try!