Travel Paris Painlessly Ride a Velib’

Want to explore Paris without having to deal with crowded buses and metros? Walking and public transit isn’t your only option these days. The “City of Romance” offers a pick up, drop off bike venture that is sure to please. It’s easy to use and so much fun!

Look for the large bicycle racks bursting with shiny brown street bikes every few blocks. Once you find one put your credit card into the attached machine. The card will unlock the bike of your choosing then take the bike out of the rack and you are good to go. When you’re finished, drop it off at any of the 1,800 locations found throughout the city. It’s as easy as that.

Rack of Velib' bicycles in Paris, France

You will find racks of the bikes like these all over Paris

Pick up a Velib’

The Velib’ Bike System turned out to be a saving grace for us one night when the metro shut down earlier than expected. We were stranded a few miles away from our hotel. Taxis were hard to find that late at night and we were dreading the trek back. After walking all day our feet were rebelling against all the abuse too!  Just outside the metro station where we were abandoned, we noticed the Velib’ bike rack. Curious, we walked up to the large machine at the far end of the rack. Reading the information, we were happily surprised to find that these bikes were free to use for the first half hour!

Not only did we get back to the hotel in record time, we actually had a good time pedaling the near-empty streets of Paris at midnight. It was peaceful and beautiful with the lights shining along the currents of the Seine River.

We also found that there is life after midnight, as a fun-loving group of over 100 roller skaters came racing up from behind us. Young and old alike were enjoying the refreshingly quiet streets of the city.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As overcrowding was becoming a serious problem, the city took matters into their own hands and created the Velib’ bike system. This project helped Parisians get around quicker without having to tackle the Metro and city buses. It was also found to help ease the heavy congestion problem with cars on the street.

Attractive as well as useful, these bikes come complete with locks, lights, an adjustable seat, and even a front basket for your groceries. The plan is to have a stand approximately every 900 feet throughout Paris with a grand total of 20,600 bikes.

How do you pay for the bike?

You will need a credit card to take a bike and will be charged 200 Euro if the bike is not returned within 24 hours. Insert your card into the large vending machine and pick your language. You will be prompted how to process the machine, then when finished, you have 60 seconds to release your bike.

Velib' payment machine with map of stations throughout Paris

Velib’ payment machine with map of stations throughout Paris

After the first half hour which is generally enough time to get to your destination, then one Euro for each additional half hour. If use is longer the price could go up as high as four Euros per half hour. The higher rate is to ensure there will always be an ample supply of bikes to keep in rotation. A better idea for those who want to use the bike for longer periods of time is to get a day pass for 1,70 €. You can also get a seven-day pass for 8,00 €. Locals can get a yearly pass as low as 19€. All passes can be purchased on Velib’s website.


  1. You didn’t say how much a one-time charge is for a velib, unless I missed it, but it seems that a €1,7 day pass (or week pass), is the way to go. I’m heading to Paris in a few days and I’m totally doing this.


      It’s one Euro per half hour if you prefer not to pick up a pass. It’s much more economical to get the day pass. Hope you have a fun trip and enjoy Paris!

  2. Confession.. I can’t ride a bike! The more I travel and read posts like these, the more I realise that I REALLY need to learn!

  3. I know I’m not alone in saying that Paris is one of my favorite cities. I’m lucky I’ve had the chance to visit several times, but I’ve never tried touring it by bike! You’ve given me yet another reason to want to go back!


      Oh Sarah, you have to go back and see the city by bike! It’s so much better and you get a feel for how the Parisian live by doing it too!

  4. we tried using velib while in paris but it wouldnt accept our credit card unfortunately!



      Yes, I’ve heard from a few other people they had problems also. Sorry to hear you had a problem with your card. If you try again you can always contact Velib’ directly to see what credit cards are accepted. You can also purchase a 1- or 7-day Vélib’ ticket on the Web and save yourself the grief of your card not working at the machines.

  5. I’ve used these in other cities but never in Paris. They are such a great idea. Wouldn’t want to be riding around the Arc de Triomphe on one though 🙂


      Either would I Kerri! But yes, bike rentals in cities are a great idea. We used to have them in Portland for free until people started stealing them.

  6. The Roaming

    I’ve seen these in a number of cities now and they look so convenient for ease of travel around large cities. I’ve still not used them yet but will definitely try them out one day!


      Hope you have the chance to give it a try Nic! Want to hear what you think when you do.

  7. Love discovering cities via bike or walking, rental bikes are pretty rad but sometimes the fees on the credit card for “mispricing” or what not can get a bit ridiculous


      Can totally agree with that. Some cities can be a complete ripoff. Guess a little research before renting may be a good idea. As far as Velib’ is concerned we have not had any problems.

  8. I am so glad they have this as exploring anywhere by bike is the best!Are there lots of cycle paths around the city?

  9. It’s great to see more cities become bike friendly and provide options like this. I love that my hometown in Minneapolis was one of the first to do so in the U.S. and it changed the way I got to know my own backyard!

  10. I actually did not know about this option, but pedaling the streets of Paris at midnight sounds like an adventure in itself.


      It is one of our best memories of Paris yet. Watching those skater’s helped us to see a little of what real Parisian life is like. And they were having a whole lot of fun!

Comments are closed