Vélib’ing around Paris – in a Day (almost for free)
Oui, je t’aime Paris et je t’aime beaucoup – Si chaque ville est une couleur, Londres est gris, Rome est jaune canari, Mykonos est blanc brilliant, et Paris doit être couleurs multipastel ~ 😛
Spring has come and Voici Le Mois de May! The weather is fab, neither too hot nor cold. Traveling around Paris is formidable, and now travelers could even easily bike around the city – maybe for free!!
Vélib’ is not new and it is an extensive, self-service bike rental network all over the city of Paris! Vélib’ is not 100% free, you need a small subscription fee to register with a credit card, and then you could travel on a bike and then return it @ thousands of stations.
Some friends told me they have a problem with registration with their credit card @ the station. But for me, it worked like a charm. The first 30 minutes of releasing the bike (until you successfully plug it in) are free. I was in Paris, (and will be there again soon in June), and there was a day when my friends had “businesses” and I had a day to myself — I made a plan to bike around Paris to see some of my fav spots in a day.
Since every first 30-minute was free, I, though, every spot had to be (almost) 30-min apart… wasn’t it that easy?
Okay, leisurely cycling, 30-min, rough estimate: maybe 1 to 2 miles, and 200 calories :P?
30 min! Lafayette – Le Louvre
My starting point was @ the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann (The Opera House) and then head to Le Louvre. I wasn’t planning to go inside the museum that day (and that day it was closed), but I was able to go in the square and go around the I.M. Pei’s pyramid, take some photos of the structure. Then, return the bike to the stations right outside Le Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries~
30min! (But…) Place de la Concorde – Musée d’Orsay
It was a beautiful, quiet, lovely day to walk through the Jardin des Tuileries right in front of Le Louvre, to the busy Place de la Concorde~ from there I could see the Arc de Triomphe all the way at the end of the Av. Des Champs-Élysées!!! Ride on the bike again and I rode along La Seine, heading to Le Pont Royal, going to my next stop – Musée d’Orsay. But then, Bammmmm. There were a few stations (as I remember) behind Orsay yet all the bike parking was full…. I had to wait for a spot, and it took me like 15-20 minutes and so I couldn’t make it in time.
Besides, it was a narrow road, and it was hard to reach the parking when someone grabbed a bike at the other end of the station, and other people just took the spot (there wasn’t exactly a queue).
30min! From Orsay to Invalides
I had a nice time and a nice lunch in the museum, and time to wipe the unsuccessful memories in my storybook and hop on the bike to my next stop again. This time, it’s easy – the entrance of the Invalides was close by but there were some slopes on the way.
30+ min! Looking for the Eiffel
So there was always a time in a place when you have planned, but fate just didn’t seem to work out perfectly. After I had walked through the Invalides I was in a stage of disorientation ~ Now I realized that I was on the Esplanade des Invalides / Pont Alexandre III and I knew my next stop is the Eiffel tower. So I took my bike and decided just to go through the block heading in the right direction. Maybe, because the Eiffel tower was so tall and big, it looked so close but to me, it seemed forever. Unlike most of the cities in the United States, Paris’s layout is not in perfect regular grids. For one moment I felt like I was trapped in a maze….
I made it to the entrance of the Eiffel tower and of course, the queue was horrendous. I wasn’t planning to climb the tower that day either. So I return the bike (I think I missed it by only a few minutes) and just appreciated the beauty of the tower for a while from far, far away.
30min! Musée Rodin
I could say this is the surprise of my day. Following the signs along the road, I arrived a small and elegant mansion right beside the Invalides. The garden is nicely cropped with Rodin’s masterpieces on display. I enjoy the ‘coziness’ of the museum very much 🙂
40 min! 😛 Back to Notre Dame
I had dinner plans with my friends, and I had to meet them @ Le Centre Pompidou by 6! So it’s time for me to make one last stop and go all the way back to the Notre Dame.
It was a bit ambitious, so I didn’t make it within 30 minutes. But what the hell, that was fun to ride along the Parisian streets and La Seine, go through the Pont des Arts (The bridge of love locks) and return the bike in one piece – Still have time to see street performances outside Pompidou before my friends arrived.
Vélib’ – http://en.velib.paris.fr/
p.s. Pompidou closes at 10 pm, so save it for last. Anyhooo… On the escalator up, I got to see a beautiful sunset!