A bicycle provides the perfect tempo for exploring a city. You can get from point A to point B faster than you would walking, but it’s slow enough that you get to take in the scenery in a way that riding a bus or metro never allows.
While biking in Paris isn’t easy, it’s definitely doable, and as long as you have a general understanding of what riding in the City of Light entails, there’s plenty to explore. You can choose between renting a bike for the day, or using the city’s bike share system, Vélib’.
If you’re looking to explore Paris in an interactive way, here are some of our favorite rides, many of which are well documented in the Vélib’ Paris by Bike guidebook.
From the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame
The Eiffel Tower is an idyllic backdrop to any Paris activity, and a leisurely bike ride is no exception. Begin by taking the obligatory Eiffel Tower and bicycle photo, then from the Champ de Mars you can follow the Seine all the way past the National Assembly, continuing past the Musée d’Orsay, and finally head on towards Saint Germain. Wind through the 6ème into the 5ème and explore the Latin Quarter, then cross over to Ile Saint-Louis and Ile de la Cité to spend a bit of time on the islands, taking in the views of both the Right and Left Banks.
From the Canal de l’Ourcq to the Seine
If you start your day in the Parc de la Villette in the 19ème, you can cruise all the way down to the Seine, enjoying a ride along designated bike lanes. Begin your ride along the Canal de l’Ourcq and then continue by the Canal Saint Martin. Park your bike in front of one of the area’s adorable cafes (consider one of our favorites, Ten Belles) for a light lunch or café, then continue to ride along Boulevard Richard Lenoir all the way to Place de la Bastille, taking in some of the hippest parts of the Right Bank. This is the tough part of the ride, and if you’re feeling uncomfortable about throwing yourself into traffic, just get off and use the crosswalks like a pedestrian.
Then follow Boulevard Bourdon, just south of the Place de la Bastille, all the way to Pont Morland where the canal connects with the Seine. If you cross over the Seine at Quai de la Rapée, you’ll hit the Jardin des Plantes, the perfect respite to rest your legs after your ride.
Jardin des Plantes, Isabel Miller-Bottome
Bois de Boulogne
For a pre-picnic ride, head northwest to the 16ème, making sure to sure to stop off at one of the arrondissement’s markets before peddling off. The Bois de Boulogne is a haven of green space that’s perfect if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city-center; there are actually 15 kilometers of bike paths to let you explore the entirety of the park.
Martyn Davis; David Adams
Check out the map of all the bike routes on the official Bois de Boulogne page on the Mairie de Paris website, and once inside you’ll find that any open space provides the perfect setting for a casual meal en plein air.
Place de la Bastille to Chateau de Vincennes
Another route if you’re looking to escape the crowds is to head towards the Chateau de Vincennes. From Place de la Bastille follow Avenue Daumesnil, which has a nice protected bike lane. Continue on this avenue through the 12ème, as it wraps along the north side of Bois de Vincennes and then through the park. Here’s another spot where you might want to think ahead and bring a picnic, or at least a blanket and a good book to enjoy a quiet moment in the afternoon.
If you plan to explore Paris by bicycle, be sure to check out the city’s complete map of all the bike lanes and routes across town before planning your itinerary.
- Be sure to check out Anna’s tips for safe and enjoyable biking around Paris for HiP Paris Blog.
- Paris’ bike share system has expanded and is now offering bikes for little ones with P’tit Vélib’ (and it’s as cute as it sounds)!
- If you prefer to see Paris by foot, take a peek at Lily’s suggested strolls around the 12eme and the city’s lesser-known towers.