Explore Paris by Vélib – a half day itinerary by bike
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Update: The Velib rental bike service got relaunched in spring 2018 and offers now also e-bikes. Apart from this, there are a few other rental bike services in Paris now, that is not requiring you to rent your bike at a rental station, but as you go per App.
Bike trips and Capitals are not exactly what I normally would call a perfect match. Especially when it’s concerning Paris. Some years ago I would call everyone crazy who’s moving around Paris by bike. Like wtf are you ok? Are you wanting to die?!
But thats a few years back and Paris is developing. The environment is very high on the mayors agenda (fun fact; Paris’ mayor is female, Anne Hidalgo) and in this context, Vélibs (rental bikes) are a common way to get around today. Well, Paris is clearly not Amsterdam, but I believe we are getting there. By now, bus lanes are also free for bicycles, there are more and more cycle tracks and many traffic lights are equipped with signs for cyclists to indicate their right of way.
But you don’t need to pitch in to Paris’ snarl-up if you determined to explore the city by Vélib. In the following I will give you an excellent bike track itinerary that -as a by- product-will direct you to some of Paris’ most famous landmarks.
First of all, get yourself a Vélib
On their page it sounds as easy as winking but it’s kinda not. Maybe that’s just me blacking-out in front of those vending machines though, but I need each and every time at least 2 tries.
Note that if you don’t need to spontaneously get your Vélib on the fly, you can get your access pass as well online. In any case you need a credit card.
Pro Tip: you pay 1,70€ per day and 30min of each ride are free. Drop your bike at a station before the 30min run out, wait a moment and pick a new Vélib. You can do that the entire day without exceeding the 1,70€ fee.
Paris from east to west along the Seine
You can start your tour at Porte de la Gare and cycle until Pont de Garigliano. When I did this tour, my idea was to follow the Seine from the point where it’s entering Paris until it’s leaving.
However, the first stretch between Porte de la Gare and Jardin de Plantes is not super interesting and the cycling possibilities along the banks are not great. The area is rather industrial and not classical Parisian… but there is a fully developed and safe cycle track just up along the street and plenty of bars along the waterside. For example, the petit Bain, but also many pop-up bars that you don’t wanna miss.
If you are just up for cycling and sightseeing though, it’s absolutely safe to start around Jardin de Plantes. The Tino Rossi Park follows the banks of the Seine and is open for cyclists. It’s not a big stretch, but it’s really nice, and it offers an excellent view of île Saint-Louis and the back of Notre-Dame cathedral.
The following (short) section until the Musèe d’Orsay is a bit fiddly. You CAN continue partially along the shore, but the route is plastered with big cobblestones and not too great to ride. I suggest taking the first option to leave the banks and continue up the bike line along the road.
From Pont Royal you can access the Berges des Seines that leads you back to the car-free track. From there you can cycle unhurried until the Eiffel Tower, Bir-Hakeim and the Square des Martyrs Juifs. You can even extend your tour until Pont Garigliano and pass by the Ballon de Paris in Parc André Citroen.
Check out our video to get an impression of what to expect from the track along the Seine and see a few of the sights and landmarks that will be crossing your way.
Trip in numbers and facts
Distance: 14 km
Duration: 1-2h, longer if you do sightseeing
Vélib stations on this track: around 30 in striking distance
Sights and landmarks (amongst others)
- Jardin de Plantes
- Jardin Tino Rossi
- île Saint-Louis
- île de la Cité
- Shakespeare and Company
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame
- Saint Michel
- Pont des Arts
- Pont Royal
- Musée d’Orsay
- Place de la Concorde
- Grand Palais
- Eiffel Tower
- Ballon de Paris
- and quite a few other museums, like the Musée des égouts, Musée d’Art Moderne, Maison de la culture du Japon, Musée de l’Orangerie, Institut de Monde Arabe and many more
Do you need more ideas on how to make your Paris trip unforgettable? Some tips beyond the obvious and well worth seeing landmarks like Montmartre or Arc de Triomphe? Have a look at our 75 tips about Paris and experience the city off the beaten path!
Don’t miss our transportation guides either!
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