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You may have seen on the streets rows of city-sponsored bicycles, as well as the occasional Vélib’ cyclist. These ubiquitous gray bicycles are aren’t exclusively reserved for Parisians holding a pass – no, this bike-sharing is also yours to use for an extremely affordable sum of 1,70€ a day.

Whether you find the metro too crowded, you can’t seem to find a taxi (and are against car pollution), or just want a fresh new perspective on Parisian streets, there is no better way to get around Paris 24/7 than on bike. Yes, the roads may be tough (especially the uphill incline on Montmartre) and traffic congested, but a bicycle gives you the freedom to discover Paris past the big lanes of the tourbuses.

With options of a 1-day (1,70€), 7-day (8€), and yearlong pass (29€), sign up for the Vélib program that best matches with your stay in Paris.

friends on vélib by the tourist in paris

Our easy to follow steps to start cycling

Option #1: You can buy a pass online. All you need is your pass and a pin code to take out a bike at any station.

Option #2: You can buy a pass at one of the Vélib stations around the city, to take out a bike immediately. You need a card that has a chip-reader, as the machine has no other acceptable mode of payment. If not, Option #1 may be the better choice.

(Vélib machines have English language options, so you can follow the instructions in a clear fashion. Just in case you have any troubles, here is a step-by-step breakdown of the process.)

> “Acheter un ticket”: Buy a ticket! Press the number on the pad that corresponds with your choice – in this case, it should be 1.
> Choose your ticket type: Buy a temporary paper ticket that will have your pass # on it (If you have a Navigo pass, there is also an option for you).
> Choose the duration of your ticket: 1-day or 7-days?
> Type in a 4-digit security code that will complement your ticket # in order to access the bikes. This way, people can’t steal bikes under your name (and credit card!). The machine will ask you to type it again to confirm.
> After reading and validating terms and conditions and inserting mode of payment, you will see a screen that asks for your security pin and a total of 150 euros. Do not panic! This 150 euros will not be debited from your account. It is just blocked to ensure you return your bike properly.

And voilà: Armed with your ticket # and personal 4-digit pin, you can enter this information to take out a bike.

full vélib station by the tourist in paris

How can you take out a bike, you ask?

It’s easy. After you enter in your info at the machine, press “retirer un vélo” and enter the bike # (written above the green light of each bicycle’s stand). Press the unlock button, slide it out of its holster and you have 30 minutes to ride freely! After 30 minutes, you can park your bicycle by sliding it back in (this takes finesse – aim to align the lock and the holster parallel to each other). Wait until the double-beep sound and the green light before walking away, as this confirms the bike’s return.

If you don’t put in the bike properly, there is a chance that the light will turn orange and make high-frequency beeps: this is a warning. Take the bike out and try again! You don’t want the light to turn red.

If you pass the 30 minute mark, the fee is 1€ for the next 30 minutes. There is a two-minute waiting period before you can take one out again. We advise you to keep rides under 30 minutes. You can always park, wait, and go again if your destination is further.

Thus, for the duration of your ticket you can have an unlimited number of 30-minute rides all around Paris. Not bad, huh? Trust us; the bike ride along the Seine at sunset is worth it.

Tip: By entering your ticket information at a full station (no more parking space), you can gain 15 extra free minutes.

Download the mobile app here to get a map of the stations in Paris and how many bikes or parking spots there are left.

And for your kids? Rent little bikes in one of Paris “P’tit Vélib” stations.

Above all, cycle safely!

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Where: Paris, France