What To Know Before Cycling in Paris
One of the best ways to explore Paris is via bicycle. This city was listed in the 20 Most Bike Friendly Cities on the Planet by Wired.com and it offers a lot of fascinating neighbourhoods to explore. It doesn’t have the excellent cycling infrastructure of Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but it still has a large network of bike lanes with more being added every year. Exploring Paris via bike gives you the opportunity to see the city at your own pace and enjoy more of it, as you will be able to cover more ground than exploring on foot.
Paris also offers the Velib system, which is a bike share program that has over 20,000 bikes all over the city. You can take a bike from any of the pickup points, ride it around and then drop it off at another pick up point. You will only pay for the time that you use it. You can also buy a one day or seven day pass online so that you will be able to access a bicycle anytime you like. Always check the bike before you ride it for issues such as flat tyres, missing chains or handle bars. Sometimes the previous rider will turn the saddle backwards to alert the next rider of an issue.
There are a few important things that you should know before you go cycling in the City of Light. Here are some important tips that every cyclist should know before they cycle London to Paris.
- First of all, it’s crucial to understand the arrondissement system. There are 20 of them and they go out from the centre of the city in a spiral pattern, resembling a giant snail from above. Therefore when it comes to navigating, the smaller an arrondissement’s number is the closer it is to the city centre.
- The streets in Paris are not always in an easy to understand grid system, but you can find the street signs on the corner buildings on blue placards.
- The word “Sauf” means except and the word “Velo” means bike. So, if you see a sign but it says “Sauf Velo” that means that it doesn’t apply to bikes.
- The best bike lanes that Paris has to offer is those that are divided from the road with a concrete barrier. These are a pleasure to ride because they are strictly bike only and you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car.
- Sometimes the bike lane and the sidewalk are one in the same, which can be tricky. When you are riding on this type of path make sure that you are aware of your surroundings and that you are vigilant about foot traffic ahead of you. Outfit your bike with a bell so that you can alert walkers to when you are approaching behind them.
- The best way to navigate your way around the city is to have a smart phone with Google Maps. If you have a bike mount for your phone, you will be able to look down at the map without having to stop your bike and get the phone out of your pocket.
- If you don’t have a phone, or if it runs out of battery, there are usually large detailed maps that highlight the surrounding streets near most public toilets and bus stops in Paris.
- Try to avoid cycling during rush hour or on busy days. Sunday is the best day, as the city will be quite and cyclists can relax and feel calm.
- There are so many great cycling routes in Paris! You could ride along the banks of the Seine, take the bike path along the Canal St. Martin, ride through the winding pedestrian streets of the Marais, or ride along the many bike trails in the green and beautiful parks such as Bois de Bologne and Bois de Vincennes.
- There are also guided tours in Paris, which will take you around the city and show you the highlights and historical attractions.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind for exploring Paris by bike. Whether you have made it here on a long distance UK charity challenge or you are simply on holiday, this city is a pleasure to ride around. Have fun!