How to Take Paris by Bike: the Vélib’ System

The Paris city bike system is amazing. Officially named Vélib’, it has almost 15,000 bikes and 1,230 bike stations. When you arrive in Paris, you want to approach the Vélib’ confidently and like a local. Here’s how:


Buying your pass

Near any of the bike stations, there will be a kiosk type thing, with two different sides. Approach the side with the keypad and card-reader. Press the number that corresponds to the language you are most comfortable with. Now select that you want to purchase a subscription to the service and chose your length of subscription. Read all of the fine print and insert your card AFTER it tells you to (I kept putting it in too early).

Sarah Longworth- Flickr

Different types of tickets

No matter what length of time you chose to subscribe to the bike service, you have an unlimited number of rentals during that time. There are 4 types of subscriptions:

  1. One day pass, 1,70 Euros
  2. One week pass, 8 Euros
  3. Vélib’ Classique pass, one year of subscriptions, 29 Euros
  4. Vélib’ Passion pass, one year of subscriptions, Adult 39 Euros, Under age 27, 29 Euros, Students 19 Euros!- 45 minute initial period rather than 30 minutes.
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How to Unlock your bike

Once your ticket has been printed, visit the other side of the kiosk and select that you would like to take out a bike. Type in the number on your ticket and chose the bike station that you would like (it will only show the ones with bikes in them). Now, you have 60 seconds to go press the stainless steel button and jerk your bike out of the lock it is in. Yay! You’re officially biking in Paris!


Pricing according to timing

You could spend your whole subscription time riding from station to station, and as long as you don’t go over 30 minutes between stations, you’ll only pay the flat rate that you did in the beginning! Once you go over 30 minutes, there is a 1-4 Euro charge for each 30 minute period after the first. (This is to keep the bikes in circulation).

  • First 30 minutes: free
  • First hour: 1 Euro
  • 1 h 30: 3 Euro
  • 2 hours: 7 Euro
  • 5 hours: 31 Euro
  • 20 hours: 151 Euro

How to work your bike

First, after you have unlocked it from the station, check the seat height. There are two types of levers according to the age of the bike, but they are both universal and raise and lower the seat like all bikes.

Second, store anything you have in your basket! Third, realize that the bikes have a kick-stand that will raise the back tire off the ground. This is your warning so you don’t have to stand there confused like most first-timers.

Lastly, don’t lose sight of your bike. The system does have your card number, and if it is not returned it will charge your card.

Velib’ & vous page, Pinterest

Resources for the Adventurous Paris Biker

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Have you ever ridden a bike in Paris? Do you have any stories to share? Let me know by replying below!

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  1. Very informative post, I might try this next time in Paris 🙂

    1. That sounds amazing! When I travel more frequently I might invest in one, but I really like to just take 1 bag on trips!

  2. My wife and I rode those bikes through the Tuileries- not sure if that was permitted as we didn’t see any others, but it was fun (and a nice break for our feet:)

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