There are so many treasures to discover and things to do in Paris. The beauty is that most of the main attractions such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the countless picturesque bridges of Paris are in plain view when cycling along the river Seine. Walking the distance would be a whole day event and result in very hurtful feet [I tried it and gave up at the Pont Alexandre III!] Thankfully you can see and reach all these main attractions in no-time with Paris’s public bicycle sharing system which is called Verlib! Super easy to use and to rent out! Find out how the bicycle sharing system works and pedal along the Seine to see the beauty of Paris with me…
About Velib &Velib Metropole: Paris public bicycle sharing system
Velib is a blend of the French words “Velo” meaning bicycle and the word “liberte” meaning freedom. Velib was owned by Somupi and the city of Paris and operated 18.200 bicycles with 1230 bike stations all around Paris and surroundings! [Info Source Wikipedia
However Velib (gray bikes) shut down on the 31.12.17 and was taken over by Velib Metropole (green and blue bikes) on the 01.01.2018.
Advantages of the new Velib Metropole Bike Rental
- Velib Metropole now offers electrical bikes (blue colour) as well as the “old fashioned” mechanical bikes (green coloured bikes)
- Added V-Boxes allow quick and direct access to bikes as well as pairing to your smartphone, allowing you to look up hired time and distances travelled
- New and “better” security system called the “Fork Lock” has been installed on each bike so the bikes will get less stolen and the cyclists are able to lock bikes in between stations. E.g when wanting to walk into a bakery to purchase a baguette 🙂
- There is also a new management for the bike stations called “Park +”. This new system enables Velib users to dock their bikes even when all the docking stations are occupied by simply attaching the bikes back to front to already existing bikes. This is/was one of the major complaints of the old Velib systems as during rush hours the drop off stations were all full and cyclist had to pedal to another station and lose money and time doing so.
For more info’s about the better security, bike types and docking station click here for Velib Metropole!
***Note: As I have experienced the “old” Velib bike sharing system, my experience and “how to” guide is according to the old Velib.
Prices for Paris “old “Velib Bicycle Hire
The prices were in my opinion quite reasonable for being able to rent a bike anywhere and anytime in Paris!
- First 30 min are for free (still is the same today)
- First additional 30 min cost 1 EUR
- Second additional half an hour cost 2 EUR
- From the third and any half an hour thereafter it costs 4 EUR
We ended up using the bike for about 3 hours and paid roughly 16 EUR per bike we rented out.
With the new Velib metropole system you can subscribe online or via apps to use them but prices are not clearly displayed on the website 😦 So I am unsure of the prices as of 2018. If you know, please leave a comment below so I can update my info :)
Find your Velib Bike Rental Station in your vecinity
As mentioned above on the website Velib Metropole they outline a map as to where all the bike stations are located and you can zoom in and out to the location you are at. Or do as we did, as it was spontaneous, and ask other people on the road who are using the bike 🙂
As we were in the area of Pont D’Arcole and this is where one of the bike rental stations is we rented and started our tour right here!
Pont D’Arcole Bike Station
The Velib Pont D’Arcole bike station is located right under the bridge and offered a range of bikes on a docking station as well as the machine you use to rent out the bikes. Another great fact to know about the Pont D’Arcole is that if you cross the river Seine it leads you directly to the The Majestic Cathedral of Notre Dame!
How to rent a bike with Velib Bike Sharing
You simply go to the existing Velib renting machine and follow the instructions displayed on the screen.
Be aware it’s not a touch screen so you need to use the buttons on the dialer below 🙂
First you need to press number 5 to change to the English language and then you just follow the instructions.
Must know about Verlib bike rental system
- You need to have a valid credit card to rent out the bikes
- You have to leave a 150 EUR deposit per bike so make sure you have the amount available on your credit card before renting out the bike
- Once you chose your bike (using bike numbers displayed on the bikes themselves) you receive a “day ticket” that you will need later to return the bikes. Don’t lose it!
- When retuning the bikes ensure that the docking station shows a GREEN light when locking the bike back in. If the light is red, it means you did not return the bike and they will charge you accordingly!!!
Pedal along the Seine & see the best Paris has to offer
As you can see on the Google map above the major attractions such as the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower are very close to the river Seine and you can read more about the sights along the river Seine here. However, the distance between the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower are way to far to walk to in one day unless you like sore feet or you take the Paris Metro/Bus/River Cruise!
So to see the best in no time, check out Paris on a bike! Lets start our tour from Pont D’Arcole and cycle towards the Eifel Tower!
1st Sight of Paris: Pont Notre Dame
Pont Notre Dame connects both sides of Paris and is known to be one of the most ancient bridges of Paris. Unfortunately this bridge has been destroyed and restored many times over in the past. One of the incidents was because this bridge was once lined with over 60 houses which caused a collapse of the bridge back in 1499. Click here to see a painting of how the Pont Notre Dame used to look named “La joute de mariniers entre le pont Notre-Dame et le Pont-au-Change” painted by Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet in 1756.
The current bridge you can see along the Seine today has been build in 1910 and was finished in 1914 and is 105 meters long. (Source Wikipedia.com)
Still beautiful but clearly not as fascinating as it used to look with all those houses on top!
2nd Sight of Paris: Pont Neuf
Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge of Paris and was build in 1578 and is 238 meters long. Pont Neuf crosses over the “Île de la Cité” which is the island in the middle of the river which is known to be the birthplace of Paris.
What makes Pont Neuf special besides that it is the oldest bridge, is that it showcases 183 “Mascarons” which are the stone faces you can see adorned along the Pont Neuf! (Source Wikipedia.com)
3rd Sight of Paris: Pont des Arts
Pont des Artes was constructed in 1801 and the fun fact about this bridge is that it was the first metallic bridge build in Paris! Pont des Arts is sporting 9 arches and also connects the Institute de France as well as the central square of the Palais du Louvre. You can actually walk straight to the Louvre when crossing this bridge!
4th Sight of Paris: The Palais du Louvre
Once you cross the bridge Pont des Arts it will lead you straight to the Palais du Louvre and the Louvre Museum. The Palais du Louvre was originally a fortress build in 1202 and changed into a royal palace in the 14th century. In 1793 parts of the palace was turned into a museum which is known as the Musee du Louvre. Over time almost the entire palace was turned into the Louvre museum and the constructions finished fully in 1989 by adding the infamous Louvre Pyramids which are pyramids made of glass and steel! (Source Wikipedia.com)
5th sight of Paris: Pedal past the Pont du Carrousel
Bypassing the louvre museum and staying along the Seine you will pedal past the Pont du Carrousel which was build in 1834. This bridge was one of the first to sport arches and a little bit of cast iron. Another beautiful sight about Pont du Carrousel is that it show cases four stone statures created by Louis Petitot. They represent Industry, Abundance, The City of Paris and The Seine. (Source Wikipedia.com)
6th sight of Paris: The extraordinary Pont Alexandre III
I walked to Pont Alexandre III three times during my one week stay in Paris and stopped on my cycling tour again. Why? Because it is in my opinion the most beautiful, elegant and exquisite bridge I have seen so far in this amazing world of ours! Adorned with statues, “gold” and a lot of attention to detail this bridge draws travelers from all around the world.
Pont Alexandre III was build and created between 1896 and 1900 by the architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin. The bridge was named after Tsar Alexander III as he concluded the French – Russian Alliance in 1892. (Source Wikiepedia.com)
The Fames of Pont Alexandre III
The Fames are four massive golden sculptures that frame the Pont Alexandre. They are supported by masonry socles that provide the counterweight of the heavy sculptures. Each fame represent something different:
- La renommée des beaux-arts (Fama of beautiful Arts) from Emmanuel Frémiet (1824–1910)
- La renommée de l’agriculture (Fama of Agriculture) from Emmanuel Frémiet (1851–1924)
- La renommée au combat (Fama of Combat) von Pierre Granet (1843–1910)
- La renommée de la guerre (Fama of War) from Léopold Steiner (1853–1899) (source Wikipedia.com)
The Nymphs of Pont Alexandre III
The nymphs of Pont Alexandre are a tribute to the French – Russian alliance with a nymph who has a relief of the arms of Paris, and faces the Nymphs of the Neva with the arms of Imperial Russia. (source Wikipedia.com)
7th sight of Paris: Pont des Invalides
Pont des Invalides is located right in between Pont Alexandre III and Pont de I’Alma and was build in 1855. When you stand on Pont Alexandre III you will have magnificent views of the Pont des Invalides as well as the Eifel Tower!
Interesting facts about the Pont des Invalides is that it had a few attempts to be build starting 1821 by the engineer Claude Navier who wanted to build a “technologically revolutionary bridge” that crossed the Seine in one single reach which unforunately never happened as it was showing cracks during the constructions. Therefore Claude Naviers idea was replaced and completed in 1829 by the two engineers, de Verges and Bayard de la Vingtrie, who completed the construction with a proper suspension bridge that was supported by two piers. Unfortunately they had to demolish the entire bridge in 1854 due to fast growing wear and tear of the bridge. The new bridge was constructed in 1854 by the engineers Paul-Martin Gallocher de Lagalisserie and Jules Savarin. They used the two existing piers of the former bridge and added a central pier to build an arch bridge. An addition to the new pier were adorned sculptures. (Source Wikipedia.com)
There you go! This poor bridge had to go through a lot to be standing here today 🙂
Take a break & enjoy the sceneries of Paris
There are many benches and even little parks along the seine where you can take a break and just relax. This little green beauty is very close to the Eiffel Tower and offers the views accordingly 🙂
***Tip: Buy a baguette before you start your trip so you can enjoy a delicious French lunch along the Seine!
8th sight of Paris: The Eiffel Tower!
The Eiffel Tower is an iron wrought tower that was constructed to be the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. The Eiffel Tower was named after Gustave Eiffel as he owned the company that constructed the tower. The tower was completed in 1889 and was met with a lot of criticism by the artists and intellectual’s at the time. (Source Wikipedia.com)
The Eiffel tower is 324 meters tall and is located at the entrance of Pont D’Lena. It is Paris’s tallest building and has become France’s cultural icon. It also is the most visited paid monument in the world! The Eiffel tower is divided into three parts with a Restaurant on the first floor. For more tourist information, bookings, tickets and prices visit: Toureiffel in Paris/Ticket(Source Wikipedia.com)
I was able to see the Eiffel Tower from various parts of Paris, always greeting you at the skyline and reminding you that you are actually in the picturesque city of Paris. In my opinion it is not the most beautiful building there is but certainly the mostly known and famous one!
The day we pedaled along the Seine was one of the best days I spend whilst visiting Paris because you were able to see everything again (we “pedaled along the Seine” on our last day) from the Seine’s perspective and reconnect to the most famous sights in Paris we had seen. It’s a little exercise whilst travelling, fun and totally affordable! I was very impressed by Verlib’s rental system as it was very easy to use and reasonably priced as well as the fantastic bicycle roads clearly marked along the Seine in order to prevent accidents with pedestrians!
Thumps up from me on experiencing Paris on bike! You should give Velib Metropole a shot and try the bikes for yourself!
Ready to experience Paris on a bike so you can pedal along the Seine?
Find the best flights to Paris
To find the cheapest flights I usually start by checking out Google Flight to find the best date to fly because this can make a huge difference in prices! After I found the best possible date to fly I use two flight search portals to find the best deal for those dates. I compare between using Skyscanner.com and Expedia.com for international flights and if you fly within Europe the cheapest flights I found were with the airline Eurowings.com. Do you want to learn more about how to find cheap flights? Then click on the link 🙂
Do you need an affordable place to stay whilst visiting the romantic city of Paris?
Check out my review about an affordable apartment in Paris [1 week stay] I booked via AIRBNB/Paris. If you don’t like to live in other people’s apartment and rather book a hotel or guesthouse compare prices with Booking.com/Paris and Agoda.com/Paris. Tips on how to find budget hotels here!