Abby Comeau is an ISA Site Specialist for Europe. Abby works with students studying abroad in France and Ireland.
In France, walking is a national pastime and in Paris, especially, it is a great way to discover the intricate web of Parisian streets. But what if you wanted to cover a bit more ground? With the Tour de France every summer, you might say that biking is France’s other national obsession and the Vélib system in Paris is allowing residents, visitors and study abroad students to jump right in…. or shall we say, jump right on.
WHAT IS IT?
Paris’ Vélib network of bikes allows subscribers to pick up one of 20,000 bikes from 1,800 stations throughout the city. Hop on, start pedaling and then drop it off at any other station. Prices vary depending on the type of subscription, but the first 30 minutes of usage is always free.
HOW DO I SIGN UP?
For those with American credit cards (without the microchip, or “puce”), Vélib offers two great options. Short-term passes of 1 or 7 days can be purchased ahead of time on Vélib’s website using most credit cards. Study abroad students can also register for a year-long subscription on Vélib’s website and then use their Navigo metro card to conveniently check out a bicycle.
I’VE GOT A BIKE, NOW WHERE SHOULD I GO?
So now that you have a bike, what should you do? In addition to providing another way to get to class on time, cycling around Paris will allow you to discover the city in a new light. There are 440 kilometers of bike paths in Paris and free guides to these routes are available at all town hall offices.
Before heading out on your first adventure, make sure to read all the safety information provided on Vélib’s website – as in the United States, bicyclists are responsible for following the rules of the road. And don’t forget to wear your helmet!