Biking à Paris

 Separated bike lanes abound in Paris. This one parallels the Canal St.-Martin (on the left in this photo), which traverses the 11th and 10th  arrondissements .

Separated bike lanes abound in Paris. This one parallels the Canal St.-Martin (on the left in this photo), which traverses the 11th and 10th arrondissements.

A bike is truly the best way to get around Paris. Well..., okay, so I'm biased. ; )  But answer me this: who can stand the Métro in this 80-90-degree heat (aside from those freakish, unflappable French women clad all in silk who manage not to sweat... at all, ever)? Even if you're somewhat used to grinning-and-bearing it on urban public transit systems on steamy days (I'm talking to you, New Yorkers), I'll comfortably wager that Paris might be the metropolis that will surpass your resilience to overheating.

Riding the sweaty Métro in the summer months, you're bound to get stuck between stations in a non-air-conditioned car at least once. Having found myself in that situation on multiple past occasions, it is not an experience I'm eager to have again any time soon. The buses are not much better, mind you. No asphyxiating tunnel delays of indeterminate duration to contend with, but there are the heat-generating crowds — the buses are invariably packed with people with proliferate shopping bags — and the fact that they sit in traffic.

No, I'd rather take the coolest, most scenic, and *fastest* mode of transport, thank you. Biking also happens to be the cheapest way to get around -- especially for me this summer since I scored a Vélib membership with the apartment I'm subletting. This means that I ride the bikes whenever, and wherever I want... for free!

So, here are some shots of the Vélibs ("Vé," from "Vélo" = bike; "lib," from "libre" = free), the bike infrastructure in Paris (separated lanes! visibly marked bike lanes! signs alerting drivers to the rights of bikers!), and some excursions I've taken thus far.

 Vélib station on Boulevard Saint-Michel, near the Sorbonne in the 5th  arrondissement .

Vélib station on Boulevard Saint-Michel, near the Sorbonne in the 5th arrondissement.


It's a straight shot down Boulevard Richard-Lenoir to the major traffic circle of la Place de la Bastille, over which the Génie de la Liberté (Genie of Freedom) atop le Collone de juilliet (the July Column) ministers.

 Self-portrait while biking... Don't try this at home!

Self-portrait while biking... Don't try this at home!

 La Place de la Bastille and the July Column in the distance

La Place de la Bastille and the July Column in the distance

 trusty Vélib

trusty Vélib

 Vélib sur le Pont de Sully

Vélib sur le Pont de Sully