View Full Version : Biking in Paris

10-16-2011, 11:12 AM
I'll be in Paris for about a week next month. I've read a bit about the Velib bike-share program there; sounds interesting. How is cycling in Paris? I don't road bike much these days (decades ago, I'd bike on the streets of Manhattan, and that seems to have taken most of the interest I had in road biking out of me!) so don't know whether I'd find biking in Paris great or scary. If you have experience riding there, please share! Thanks!

10-16-2011, 01:05 PM
I went on a nighttime bike tour a few years back in Paris that was tons of fun. I'm not sure how safe I'd feel navigating on my own, but by tour I felt totally comfortable. The last time we were in Paris, we noticed one Saturday or Sunday that they closed part of the road that are directly along the Seine (at River leve) to cars and allowed only bike/pedestrian traffic. I wish we'd rented bikes that day. That would have been fun.

One thing I'd say about the rentals. I'm not sure about their various payment options. I know you can tickets for the bikes online. At the terminals themselves, if you can only pay by credit card, that may limit you. All/most of Europe use a different type of credit card than we do in the United States. European cards have embedded chips in them that require the use of a PIN, while American cards use a magnetic strip. American cards generally work fine at shops/restaurants, but at automatic terminals (like those at a train or metro stations), not so much. I learned that the hard way a few years back. So, look into how to pay for the bikes if you think you'd like to try it.

10-16-2011, 04:32 PM
indysteel, thanks very much; this is great information! I think I can get a refillable debit card here to use in Europe; I'd forgotten about that until your post reminded me. My son spent a few weeks in Germany this past summer -- his first time out of the US -- and we learned the hard way that we had to 1.) let the credit union know he'd be using his debit card overseas, and 2.) he could pull money only from the savings, not the checking account. Maybe should have opted for a refillable card for him; thanks to your post, I'll get one for myself.

A nighttime bike tour... ! What a great idea!! Off to Google for one. :)

10-16-2011, 04:47 PM
Check out fattirebiketours.com for info.

I don't know if a refillable debit card will work any better than a regular credi card for certain purposes. Assuming they're both issued by American banks, they won't have an embedded chip to allow use at kiosks, ticket machines and the like. Can you get a European issued debit card? That would be handy.

If you need any other info, I've been to Paris a number of times. I'm happy to help. I love Paris!!!!

10-16-2011, 05:56 PM
Travelex (http://www.us.travelex.com/US/Products/Cash-Passport/) offers a "Chip & PIN" card that you can purchase in the U.S. and use in Europe, but their surcharge makes it an expensive deal.

I second the recommendation for Fat Tire Bike Tours, we did a daytime tour and had a blast.

10-17-2011, 03:41 AM
Thanks thanks thanks!! I've been to Paris a few times, but the most recent visit was about 30 years ago :eek:, so... it's been a while!

I'm going to the opera the first evening I'm there (the day I arrive) to see an opera (in German, heh) I'm not at all familiar with (Berg's Lulu), and may go to the ballet another evening (since I'm skipping the conference banquet anyway), though now that I know about Fat Tire Bike Tours... :)

11-10-2011, 01:47 PM
Fat Tire Bike Company night bike ride in Paris + boat ride on the Seine + wine + camera = 333333333333

Thank you very very much for the excellent suggestion of Fat Tire Bike Tours!! Two others at the conference went with me on Sunday for the day tour, and liked it so much, they skipped the conference banquet on Wednesday night for the night ride, as did one other. .

11-10-2011, 02:43 PM
Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It's definitely one of my fondest memories of the city. On the night I did it, there was an enormous full moon. I remember turning my head and seeing it hanging over Notre Dame. It was magic, as was riding through the courtyard at the Louvre!

11-10-2011, 11:05 PM
Yeah, indysteel, it was great! It was raining for the night tour; the four of us were still happy to be where we were. It cleared very nicely for the boat ride, and my impression was that we were the four happiest people in Paris that night, but that would be speaking for the others, I suppose, which I can't do. I know I was completely happy; it was perfect.

It's been a great trip so far; I'm completely exhausted and everything aches!!