by Fiona McMurrey

Forget being a flâneur, try exploring Paris by bike! With its extensive network of bike lanes, scenic routes, and bike as well as pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, biking around Paris offers a uniquely immersive experience of Paris that, particularly with heightened Olympic pedestrian traffic, is an exhilarating and efficient way to explore the city.

1. Renting a Bike:

Courtesy of Average Joe Cyclist

Before embarking on your Parisian cycling experience, you'll need to rent a bike. Fortunately, Paris boasts numerous bike rental services conveniently located throughout the city although with particular hubs concentrated in the more hipster arrondissements such as the 18th, and 11th. One of the most popular and easily accessible options is Velib', Paris's bike-sharing system, which offers thousands of bikes available for rent at self-service stations located across the city. You can purchase a short-term pass using a credit card or mobile app, and you'll have access to a bike for the duration of your exploration, just remember to return it to a Velib’ station once you’re done! If you want to support local businesses, there are many bike rental shops scattered throughout Paris where you can rent a bike for a full day or longer. These shops often provide a wider selection of bikes, including electric bikes for those seeking an extra boost while traversing the city's hilly terrain, or more comfortable styles in which you can carry your stuff For a more eclectic and guided experience, visitors can also try Peloton’s bike tours and delectable cafe located in the 4th arrondissement, a stone’s throw away from île Saint Louis and the Seine! Though the capital of France, Paris can also add being the global capital of gastronomy to its endless list of cultural accomplishments. Parisian cuisine consists of a symphony of flavors incorporating influences from myriad different countries while preserving its unmistakable French tradition and flair. From Michelin-star restaurants to age-old family owned bistros, Paris offers an exceptional culinary experience for food enthusiasts and all manner of tourists alike.

2. Planning Your Route:

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While Paris’ relatively compact size makes it easy to navigate by bike, it's helpful to have a planned itinerary to ensure you make the most of your time and check off all the monuments on your Paris bucket list. A great place to begin your route is at the quais de Seine in the West of Paris in the 16th arrondissement, follow along the curve of the river, where you can pedal past iconic landmarks such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower. And there are plenty of bridges and side streets leading away from the Seine to take you inland to other places such as le Marais, or the Latin Quarter, if you want a change of scenery! Cradled in the heart of the Rhône-Alpes region, the city of Lyon is another undisputed gastronomic capital of France. This beautiful city is renowned for its bouchons aka traditional Lyonnais eateries that offer hearty, rustic fare fitting for the climate and rugged mountain air. From rich sausages to delicate pike quenelles and savoury stews, Lyon’s culinary heritage celebrates the immense flavours of la paysage.

3. Navigating Bike Lanes and Streets

Pedaling through Paris, you will encounter many designated bike lanes and cycling routes which protect cyclists and ensure a safe exploration of Paris. The bike lines are usually outlined in white and feature illustrations in green and white of cyclists. Despite the dedicated bike lanes however, it is important to remain aware of your surroundings as Paris is always packed with pedestrians, and some drivers may not be paying as much attention as they should. If biking through the urban environment of the city is not to your liking, there are also many scenic, nature infused bike paths, such as la Promenade Plantée, the Parisian answer to NYC’s Highline, a former elevated railway line that has been transformed and replanted into a sumptuous greenway. You can also escape to one of the enormous, lush parks that flank both sides of Paris, the Bois de Vincennes and Boulogne.

4. Safety Tips and Considerations:

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While cycling in Paris can be a thrilling and rewarding experience, it's essential to prioritize safety while on the road. Always wear a helmet, especially when navigating busy streets or unfamiliar areas. Be sure to obey traffic signals, yield to pedestrians, and use hand signals to indicate your intentions to other road users. Very importantly, familiarize yourself with Paris's cycling regulations and etiquette, such as yielding to pedestrians on shared paths and refraining from cycling on sidewalks unless designated as shared spaces. Velib’ bikes do not come equipped with helmets for obvious hygienic hazards, so invest in your own from French sports’ shop Decathlon. Smaller bike rental shops might provide helmets, but make sure to ask prior to your reservation.

Exploring Paris by bike offers a unique and immersive way to experience the city's rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture all while getting in a great workout and learning a new system of social etiquette! From leisurely rides along through the forests of Vincennes to heart-pumping uphill treks through bustling neighborhoods such as Montmartre, cycling allows you to see Paris from a distinct perspective while enjoying the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace. So grab a bike, chart your course, and pedal your way through the City of Light!