How to Rent a Bike in Paris: The Vélib’
Paris is a city best explored above ground, be it on foot or by bike. Despite what you may think, Paris is actually very cyclist friendly, and is becoming even more so. The public city bikes or velib’ are an essential part of Parisian life, and they are so easy to use for visitors as well. So whether you’re coming to Paris for a day or planning to move here, you should definitely know how to rent a bike in Paris. Here’s my quick guide to the velib’. You’ll be cruising through the city in no time!
Vélib’: What is it?
Vélib’ is Paris’ version of city bikes, which are rental bikes subsidized by the city. Most major cities in Europe have some form of city bikes by now, and the Paris Vélib’ system has consistently been rated one of the best in the world!
Paris introduced the Vélib’ system back in 2007, but it has grown and expanded significantly since then. That’s especially thanks to the vast increase in bike lanes and paths throughout Paris. Today, there are more than a hundred Vélib’ stations across Paris, and over 150,000 daily riders!
Vélib’: Who can use it?
The great thing about Vélib’ is that it’s designed for everyone. If you know how to ride a bike, you can rent a Vélib’, and it’s actually really simple. And don’t think it’s just for Parisians either. Thanks to the visitor pass, you cant rent a Vélib’ in Paris even if you’re just visiting for the day!
Vélib’: How much is it?
Another wonderful aspect about Vélib’ is the affordability. You can cruise around Paris for hours on a Vélib’ and not spend more than €3. Really! Not to mention, biking is a great way to discover the city.
Vélib’: The app
It’s easy to rent a Vélib’, the only things you’ll need is a smartphone and a credit card. Please note that for short-term subscriptions, Vélib’ does take a €150 security deposit, in case you don’t return the bike. The hold is lifted from your account the next day.
In the case of long-term subscriptions, the security deposit increases to €300. Personally, I don’t know anyone that’s ever had an issue with this, but just make sure to return your bike to an official dock station after your ride.
Vélib’: How to rent your bike
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can create an account and sign up. Then, you can choose from the various plans (explained in detail below). Once you’ve entered your card information and paid for your rental, you’ll receive an activation code and a PIN. Keep these handy because you’ll need them to pick up your bike.
Next, head to the nearest bike station. You can find the nearest stations to you, and how many bikes are available via the Vélib’ app. To rent your Parisian bike:
1. Choose the bike you want, look out for flat tires and other issues.
2. Press the V’ button on the bike dashboard.
3. Enter your 8 digit activation code
4. Enter your PIN
5. Unlock your Vélib’ and start riding!
Vélib’: How to return your bike
Thanks to the app, returning a Vélib’ in Paris is really easy. When you’ve finished your ride and want to return the bike, you can find a station with available docks on the app.
1. Press the V key on your dashboard once stopped.
2. Turn the handlebars to lock your bike.
3. Ensure the security cable is attached through the front wheel.
4. You’re good to go!
Vélib’: Short-term subscriptions
You should know that there are two different subscription types; one for visitors and one for residents. If you won’t be in Paris more than a few months, I’d recommend sticking with the visitor option. Not only is it quicker to sign up, but the security deposit is smaller and it’s around the same price as a subscription plan.
So if you’re just visiting or maybe just want to try the Vélib’ without a commitment, there are two short-term options available. You can choose to rent a Vélib’ bike for 1 or 7 days with a trip or a discover pass.
The discover pass or V-Découverte is valid for 24 hours, and you can rent up to 5 different bikes with one pass. The price for the first Vélib’ is €5, two for €10 and three for €15. Renting a 4th and 5th bike is free after €15. Basically with this plan, if you use the regular (green) bike for 30 mins or less, you don’t pay anything extra. The electric (blue) bikes will set you back €1 per 30 minutes with the pass. In case that’s a bit confusing, I’ve included the payment schema is shown in detail below.
The other short term option you have is called the V-Sejour or trip pass. This one will get you week-long Vélib’ subscription. And if you’re staying 3 days or longer, the V-Séjour will actually be your cheapest option. Prices are reasonable at just €15 per week, per bike. And the same pricing schema applies as with the day pass; basically (green bike) rides under 30 minutes are free with the pass (blue bikes are still €1 per half hour).
So if you’re planning to explore Paris to the fullest, a Vélib’ may just be your best and most affordable form of transport, considering a single metro ticket is almost €2.
And it’s pretty feasible to bike anywhere in central Paris in half an hour or less, so keep that in mind.
Vélib’: Long-term subscriptions
If you’re staying in Paris over the long-term, there are even more city bike options available to you.
The first option is geared towards occasional users, and is called the V-Libre or free pass. If you use the city bikes less than 4 times per month, this is the best option for you, because there’s no monthly fee (however the €300 security deposit still applies).
The only downside of the V-Libre is that you pay every time you use a bike. No matter the duration of the ride or the type of bike you choose. So this is worth it really only if you ride very occasionally, and for shorter distances.
Another bike rental option if you’re staying in Paris for awhile is the V-Plus. This is a subscription plan geared towards users who make four or more trips per month using Vélib’. If you’re a semi-regular user, this is a great option for you, and it’s also one of the most affordable options. A V-Plus membership will set you back just €3.10 per month. That’s less than a coffee out!
With the membership, V-Plus subscribers can use any of the regular (green) bikes for 30 minutes or less at no charge. The electric bikes cost €1 for every 30 minutes. You’ll still have to pay the €300 security deposit, but you’ll be able to get around Paris really easily.
Now what if you’re really into biking around Paris wand want an unlimited options? Well, the V-Max plan is best for regular riders, or those who use Vélib’ at least 8 times per month. Both regular and electric bikes are free for the first 30 minutes, and the regular bike for the first hour. Go over that time, and you’ll pay €1 per half hour. But in Paris, you can simply end your ride by docking your Vélib’ within 30 minutes and take another at the same station to start your free time over again.
This plan is really cheap, at just €8.10 per month it’s heard to beat Vélib’ prices for unlimited biking in Paris. Of course, the €300 security deposit still applies to this plan, but it’s worth it.
Vélib’: Where to ride?
Paris is an excellent city for biking, and there are separate bike lanes throughout the streets in the center. And actually, there are brand new bike lines running all along the Seine. The perfect place to start your scenic ride!
You can easily ride all over Paris, but bear in mind that traffic laws are different here, and so are the drivers. You’ll want to wear a helmet, and be alert all the time. Some roads are one way for cars, but two way for bikes, or the opposite.
Well, now you know all about how to rent a bike in Paris, the Vélib’! I hope this article has been helpful to you, and that you’ll enjoy discovering the city on two wheels.
See you soon in Paris!