At least getting the bike was stress-free. There is a city-wide Paris bike rental scheme called Vélib, as in Vélo (Bicycle) and Liberté (Freedom). It works like this:
- Find one of the Vélib 'stations' (i.e. pick-up/drop-off points). You should rarely be more than 300m away from one, so this part shouldn't be too tricky Go to the machine and follow the instructions (in English if you need to). For a 1-day pass, you'll pay €1. The first 30 mins of every rental is free, then it's a fixed charge per extra 30 mins (e.g. 90 mins costs €3 + €1 daily rental). You do need to have a credit card, as a fee of €150 is payable if you don't return the bike
- You can then take a bike and cycle off
- When you've finished your trip, return the bike to any Vélib point and put it into a free slot
The bikes are functional rather than trendy.
They come with 3 gears, a front basket and a security chain
(Note: The BBC reported here that this may be coming to London too. Bang up to the minute!)
Words and Pictures © Louise Heal 2009