Cycling in the heart of Paris
The icing on the cake is that some one-way streets for motorists have been turned into two ways for cyclists (as can be seen from the photo on the right).
In fact you can easily visit all the major tourists' attractions in Paris on bicycle and not worry too much about being run down by cars.
In an effort to keep the city pollution-free the City of Paris is popularizing the use of bicycles (see box below) thus following the example of other French cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg and La Rochelle.
According to Paris City Hall there are at present 314 kilometers of bike lanes inside the city of Paris. Moreover a number of streets are closed to motorists on Sundays and public holidays in order to give free rein to cyclists and rollerbladers.
The two famous woods at Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes alone have 23 kms of bike paths - making family outings on bicycles a pleasurable pursuit on week-ends.
Le Périphérique i.e. the freeway encircling Paris is particularly adapted for cycling. In fact this circular freeway (served by three lines of PC buses) passes through all the entrances to Paris (hence the name Porte attached to the underground stations round it) which served as check-points to enter Paris in the 19th century. If you think it is fun to cycle round Paris (instead of inside it) be warned that Le Périphérique covers a total distance of 36 kms!
I can't finish this article without a warning. If you should come anywhere near the huge Arc de Triomphe roundabout don't try to go to the opposite side of it like the motorists do. I used to do it some years back. But that was because I was quite foolhardy then and also because I knew exactly which of the 12 avenues round it I was heading for. It would definitely be more prudent here to go round the peaceful circular road called Rue de Tilsitt in one semi-arc and Rue de Presbourg in the other semi-arc instead (look at a map of Paris and you'll see what I mean).
But there are certain drawbacks:
WARNING 1: If you have the misfortune of having your Velib stolen you are obliged to make a police report and as if this is not enough, pay 35 euros to the Velib company as a penalty although you have locked it up.
WARNING 2: Not all their locks work well. You might find that you just couldn't unlock the bicycle on your return (it has happened to me). The employee wasted 15 minutes of my mobile phone time because he couldn't locate the road on his map (they need the exact address in order for one of their trucks to come and recuperate the stubbornly-locked bicycle).
WARNING 3: Also you have to watch out for the bicycle chain that suddenly goes haywire when you change gears making it a real security hazard. In fact, after one and a half years of its existence, 8 cyclists who were on Velib have been killed in Paris road accidents.