Getting around Paris


Moi, je fais le Velib.

Yes, it appears that I am becoming a baguette-eating, scarf-wearing, wine-sucking dandy. And yet each of the above has provided me some pretty good street cred - I no longer get the looks from store employees and occasional passerby that reek of contempt, pity and disdain. I'm now down to just disdain. (Although chicks dig the scarf).

Now allow me to introduce you to Velib. I Velibbed for my first time Saturday, and the system was very gentle with me.

Velib - part "velo" (cycle), and I'm guessing part "liberte" (liberty) is Paris' very successful bike-sharing program.

Essentially, at every 300 metres throughout the city a range of sturdy, if unsexy, 3-speed bicycles are locked up and ready for riding. You set up an account, either online or right there at the location you happen to be, in what is a very short two-minute process (unless people are waiting behind you, in which case it will take you 17 minutes).

You punch in the code given to you by the system, your pin, and the slot number of the bike you want, and you are off to the races on Paris' very bike-friendly (no joke) streets.

You can have a 1-day, 7-day, or annual pass. The 1-day pass is only 1 Euro and the 7-day only 5 Euros - all with the first half hour of each "ride" (the time between when you take it and then return it) for free, with a small fee for each half hour after that. Locals and tourists alike use it all the time.

The other best way to get around Paris other than by foot is by Metro. It has to be, in my limited experience, the best subway system in the world. I've rarely waited more than 3 minutes at any stop, and with one or at most two transfers, you can get to anywhere within the city. And it is exceptionally easy to use.

If you're like me and actually get excited by just looking at a metro map and contemplating all the possibilities, you too have a problem.