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Vélib' Métropole Bike Rentals

The city's reminted Vélib' Métropole bike-sharing program offers nearly 15,000 "hop on, drop off" mechanical bicycles and e-bikes at rockbottom rates.

Velib bicycles for hire

ABOVE: Vélib' bicycles for hire.

Paris was one of the first major cities to jump aboard the bike-sharing bandwagon, and its Vélib' program (now called Vélib' Metropole) has become a part of everyday life for many Parisians since it was introduced in 2007.

Today, Vélib' Métropole has approximately 15,000 bicycles at more than 1,800 stations, none more than 300 meters apart.

The program has had its glitches and growing pains over the years. However, it has almost 200,000 subscribers, and new technologies such as e-bikes and phone apps continue to make Vélib' attractive to locals and visitors alike.

How it works:

Velib employee at bike station

For short visits, you have two options: A one-day "V-Découverte" pass or a seven-day "V-Séjour" pass. You can use the card to borrow up to five bikes at one time, which means you'll need only one pass for a family or small group.

Every Vélib' Métropole station has a pedestal with a multilingual screen and keyboard for transactions, but you can use a free phone app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store if you prefer. (Among other things, the app makes it easy to find the nearest Vélib' station.)

Velib Metropole electric bike photo

You can pick up a green mechanical bike or a blue e-bike at any Vélib' station and return it at any other.

The first 30 minutes of use are free for mechanical bikes, with a tiny fee for electric bikes. You'll also pay a small amount for longer rides.

Velib bicycle dashboard

Once you've purchased your card, borrowing a bike at a Vélib' station is easy:

  • Choose any bicycle in the rack.

  • Click the "Enter" (checkmark) icon on the bike's dashboard to activate the electronic reader.

  • Swipe your card against the scanning area above the screen.

  • Enter your 8-character access code.

  • Enter your 4-character PIN.

  • Swipe your card again to unlock the bike.

  • Remove the bike from its parking slot and pedal away.

For subsequent trips, you can skip the validation process and simply do this:

  • Click the checkmark icon on the bike's dashboard.

  • Swipe your card to unlock the bike.

  • Ride off.

You can see a larger photo of a Vélib' bicycle dashboard here. For video tutorials, click this link. (The titles and captions are in French, but the videos are pretty self-explanatory.)


  • Vélib' bikes are popular, and sometimes you'll find that all bicycles are rented. Less commonly, you may go to return a bike and find that all the available slots are occupied. (If this happens, try another station; they're scattered across the city and are usually no more than 300 meters apart.)

  • If you're in Paris for an extended stay, consider one of the program's annual subscription plans.

    Be aware that, as of October 2019, Vélib stopped accepting non-European bank cards on its Web site. (You can still use non-European credit and debit cards at Vélib' stations for one- and seven-day passes.) This is an inconvenience for non-European visitors who want to buy annual subscriptions--which are available only on the Web site--but it shouldn't affect most tourists.

For more information about the 'Vélib program in English, visit the multilingual Vélib' Métropole Web site.

Here's another possibility for renting electric bikes:

One Bike offers French-made electric bikes for one-day, two-day, and weekly rentals. Unlike Vélib, it caters primarily to tourists.

The firm is located at 3 Place de l'Hôtel de Ville in the 4th arrondissement. For details, including prices, see the English-language One Bike Web site.

Related article:
Paris bike-sharing programs

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

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