One of the best things to do in Paris after eating an amazing meal is to take a bike ride to your apartment from wherever you’ve chosen to eat. Bike rentals here in Paris have morphed into an easy and automated system that allows anyone to easily rent one. The Velib system in Paris allows Parisians the easy a ridding a bike without all the complications involved in owning a bike in the city. Lets say your morning involves a thirty minute bike ride from point A to point B and then you get on the Metro to speed up your trip and then bike ride from there to work. How is this possible? do you take your bike on the metro? Nope!
The Velib system allows you to rent a bike at one of its hundreds of locations in the city, return it at any other location and then retrieve the bike again from another location. You will never sit on the same Velib bike twice because of the constant rotation of bikes through the city. This is organized by the automated system at the Velib kiosques.
Step one: Inspect your bike. Check the tires, Brakes, seat clamps, everything. The bikes are not always in the best shape even though they are checked regularly by the company.
Step Two: after you have found the bike that you like look at the number on the anchor for the bike.
Step three: select this bike at the Velib system and pay for the amount of time you would like the bike for. 24hours is probably best. (as of 5/6/2012 24 hours only costs you something around two euros that is less than a one-way metro ticket) When you rent the bike you will establish a secret code for the bike and the machine will give you an access ticket for the bike. This will allow you to return and retrieve the bike.
Step three: Ride. The bikes come with a lock that allows you to put the bike up as you please but you can lock the Bike up at any of the velib stations near you.
Step four: after you are done at the market or sight-seeing you can go to any velib station, use the ticket number and your secret number to retrieve another bike. Your entire day can continue in this manner.
Be sure to ALWAYS ride in the bike lanes indicated on roads. Pedestrians have the right-of-way. And all standard rules of the road should be followed. Please see this smart planet blog for more details on new laws and regulations for Paris biking.
Be safe and have a good time.