In 2007, the mayor launched a free bike scheme – Vélib (www.velib.paris.fr). There are now over 20,000 bicycles available 24 hours a day, at nearly 1500 ‘stations’ across the city. Just swipe your travel card to release the bikes from their stands. The mairie actively promotes cycling in the city and the Vélib scheme is complemented by the 372 km (231 miles) of bike lanes snaking their way around Paris.
The Itinéraires Paris-Piétons-Vélos-Rollers – scenic strips of the city that are closed to cars on Sundays and holidays – continue to multiply; www.paris.fr can provide an up-to-date list of routes and a downloadable map of cycle lanes. A free Paris à Vélo map can be picked up at any mairie or from bike shops. Cycle lanes (pistes cyclables) run mostly N-S and E-W. N-S routes include rue de Rennes, av d’Italie, bd Sébastopol and av Marceau. E-W routes take in the rue de Rivoli, bd St-Germain, bd St-Jacques and av Daumesnil. You could be fined (€22) if you don’t use them. Cyclists are also entitled to use certain bus lanes (especially the new ones, set off by a strip of kerb stones); look out for traffic signs with a bike symbol.
Don’t let the locals’ blasé attitude to helmets and lights convince you it’s not worth using them. Be confident and keep moving – and look out for scooter-mounted bag-snatchers.
Bike insurance may not cover theft.
Freescoot 63 quai de la Tournelle, 5th (01.44.07.06.72, www.freescoot.com). Mº Maubert Mutualité or St-Michel. Open 9am-1pm, 2-9pm daily; closed Sun Oct-mid Apr. Credit AmEx, MC, V. Bicycles & scooters. Other locations 144 bd Voltaire, 11th (01.44.93.04.03).
Maison Roue Libre 1 passage Mondétour, 1st (01.44.76.86.43, 08.10.44.15.34, www.rouelibre.fr). Mº Châtelet. Open 10am-6pm daily. Credit MC, V (weekends only). Bicycles. Other locations 37 bd Bourdon, 4th (01.42.71.54.54).