5 Paris Neighborhoods You’ll Love on a Bike

The best way to discover Paris on a bike is to let the streets, sounds and smells guide you. We’ve put together our favorite places to get you started.

1. Rue Saint Honoré and the Louvre at night, 1st arrondissement

Rue Saint Honoré starts super fancy down by Place de la Concorde, which is great for cruising by loads of top-class shops and watching a fun mix of fashionistas, bourgeoisie and filthy rich foreigners. The best treat towards the end is easting some bread at the bakery that won the competition for the best baguette in Paris, La Parisienne. As the winner, they have the honor of baking for the presidential Elysée palace every day for a year.

In the evening, head to the Louvre for some night riding. There are very few people around so you can ride around the grounds and the pyramid, and it’s illuminated. Get there when the sun sets behind the pyramid at around 9.20pm in the summer — pure magic!

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2. Boulevard des Invalides and Avenue de Breuteuil, 7th arrondissement 

Just getting to the Boulevard des Invalides makes for a great ride. You’ll pass by the Grand and Petit Palais and across the Alexandre III bridge. As you turn left at Invalides and pass the Rodin Museum, stand up on your pedals and look through the hedges to catch a glimpse of Rodin’s Thinker.

Not far away is the Avenue de Breteuil. When you cycle down it, you can turn back and all of a sudden see the Invalides in all its glory with Napoleon’s tomb. And it’s a great place for a picnic that’s less touristy than the nearby Champ de Mars.

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3. Rue Vielle de Temple, 4th arrondissement (The MARAIS)

The neighborhood, known as the Marais, is part of the old city districts just north of the Seine and is a delight for cycling. It’s a maze of narrow streets lined with some of the oldest architecture in Paris.

Rue Vielle de Temple is a great road. You should start on the top of the street by the Cirque d’Hiver. Then work your way down past all the trendy designer shops, over-priced gelato, and cool cafés. In fact, when you get to the bottom you can stop off at Le Peloton Café for amazing waffles and the neighborhood’s best coffee.

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4. Quai Saint Bernard, 5th arrondissement

Cross the Pont d’Austerlitz then ride directly down onto the Left Bank. The place to go is called the Open Air Museum of Modern Sculptures. It’s just off the Quai Saint Bernard (pictured below). If you’re lucky, you can see people dancing in the enclaves in the summer, doing everything from tango and salsa to rock and roll. It’s another great place to have a picnic.

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5. Canal St Martin, 10th arrondissement

For a more gritty yet peaceful side of Paris, bike up the Canal St. Martin just north of Republique. Along the banks, you’ll pass people relaxing and reading, artists painting, people having picnics. You’ll see the locks that help boats through the channel, which is a cool site if you have the patience.

When you hit the 18th, you’ll see a large building right on the canal. Stop there! It is the Paname brewery. They make some of the best craft beer in France. Sit back and take a load off with a French IPA or delicious Saison.

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For more information about biking in Paris, feel free to contact us with any questions. We give bike tours, rent bikes and fuel riders with some of Paris’ best coffee.

Click here for more on Bike About and Cafe Peloton. We look forward to hearing about your experience biking in the City of Lights.

Here are some more resources to have an amazing bike experience in Paris:

MORE ABOUT CAFE PELOTON AND BIKES!

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Safety Tips for Biking in Paris

In case you haven’t heard, the City of Lights has become the City of Bikes. Paris has transformed into one of the best biking cities in all of Europe.

In fact, Wired named Paris one of the 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities on the Planet. And with mayor Anne Hidalgo’s ambitious mission to make Paris the world capital of cycling, a bike ride is hard to pass up when you come for a visit

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It’s a good thing too because Paris is full of charming backstreets and undiscovered neighborhoods that the everyday traveler misses when riding the Metro or bus.
When you hop on your bike, you will not be alone. Parisians have an infatuation with bicycling. You will often see elderly women racing down the busy Rue du Rivoli without a helmet or businessmen in tailored suits riding alongside delivery boys — all on bikes.

Before you grab a bike and criss-cross the city, we’ve put together this guide to help make your Paris biking experience safe and enjoyable.

How to Bike Safely In Paris

The good news is that Paris officials are 100% behind creating the safest bike city in the world. They voted unanimously to spend €150 million ($164.5 million) on expanding and improving its biking infrastructure, which includes over 40,000 bikes for sharing and a bike superhighway with zero cars and state of the art safety measures.

Despite high bike awareness among auto drivers, Paris is still a busy city. Riding smart is the best way to stay safe. Here are five tips to keep in mind:

1. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you are riding during rush hour, expect there to be traffic. Find backstreets for a calmer ride. Look for bike lanes painted on the streets. Watch out for pedestrians crossing the street or buses driving in the bike lanes. Ride defensively assuming that no cars see you.

2. Follow the rules of the road just as you would in a car. Don’t run red lights, don’t cut people off, and make sure you don’t go the wrong way on a one-way road (unless the bike lane indicates – SAUF). You are not allowed to bike on sidewalks, so walk your bike if you need to get off the road

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3. Don’t wear headphones. This is not a Paris rule, but a universal urban bike safety thing. When you are sharing the road with cars, buses, and people, you need all of your senses to stay alert.

4. Use a Map app. The best part of biking in Paris is when you turn down a random road and within minutes you realize you’re lost. Don’t worry! Getting lost is normal. Paris is full of signs and maps are easy to navigate.

5. Avoid the door zone. Car doors are an urban biking hazard. When a door opens directly into your space it’s difficult to anticipate. Try to leave enough space when passing any stopped car—including parked ones.

If you’re nervous about riding in Paris for your first time, consider going on our bike tour. We’ll get you acclimated to the rules of the road and show you the best places to go on your own.

We also rent bikes and fuel riders with some of Paris’ best coffee. Click here for more on Bike About Tours and Cafe Peloton. We look forward to hearing about your experience biking in the City of Lights.

Bon voyage! Vélo en toute sécurité.

Paris’ Love-Hate Relationship With Its Famous Rats

(The most interesting thing I learned on my Paris bike tour. Guest post by Brooklyn Fischer)
If you’ve been in Paris long enough, you’ve likely crossed paths with a rat or two or twelve. It’s no surprise, as they inhabit many of the same spaces as us, both above ground and below. If you don’t see them scurrying along the quays of the Seine at night (think about that before planning a romantic date along the water!), you’ll find them in the bushes at most parks waiting for Parisians to leave the premises so they can explore the trash and have a feast.
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Trash is one of the main reasons the rats are proliferating in Paris. You know those fancy green trash receptacles in the city that hold clear trash bags? Well, that’s an ideal design if you want to make it impossible to hide suspicious packages. It’s also a perfect setup for rats who nibble through the bottoms of the bags at night and eat to their heart’s content.

Rats are even part of the Paris’ Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione

Even if you haven’t laid eyes on any rats in the city, trust me, they are there. I’ve seen them bolting through the tunnels of the Sewer Museum (my first and last time there), traipsing along the periphery of playgrounds just feet away from my children and even performing tricks at Paris’ Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione. Part of the circus act included GIANT rats, which they called “les plus gros rats du monde.”

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I was getting a little nervous about running into one of those one night until I looked them up and discovered they are actually coypus from South America. You’ll only see them at the circus. The rats running around our city and comparatively small and harmless.

Why Parisians happily coexist with the polarizing rodents

So what is Paris’ relationship with rats? Many of us have seen the rascally rodents charmingly personified in the movie Ratatouille. As far as I know, there aren’t any rat chefs here. I do often see rats portrayed in street art. The other day I witnessed an immense rat sculpture/painting hovering over pedestrians in the 13th. To me, it was more intriguing than menacing. It made me wonder, “Why are people so scared of rats?”
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A performer at the circus threw a pretend rat into the audience and a whole section of people basically lost their minds. Drinks were spilled, popcorn was flung, screams were heard. Anyone who has had rats for pets (like me) knows that rats are intelligent, social and affectionate animals. Also, in terms of personal hygiene, they are very clean animals. In fact, they are less likely than cats or dogs to contract and transmit viruses and parasites.

Parisian exterminators have a love affair with taxidermy

Let’s take a minute to talk about the exterminators. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen people take such pride in their work. Not only do they exterminate the rats, they stuff them and put them on display in their store windows.
I’ve seen it all: taxidermied rats boxing, superhero rats (Clark Kent opening his shirt to reveal a Superman S, a bright green Hulk rat with frayed shorts), a punk rat, a Rastafarian rat and bien sûr, a chef rat.
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Perhaps the most shocking window display is found at a shop called Aurouze on Rue des Halles in the 1st. They’ve got your typical standing stuffed rats, but they also feature desiccated rats next to wooden rat traps and poison pellets, and above that, two rows of taxidermied rats hanging by their necks from antique traps.

A friend and I stopped here as we ride around the city with Bike About Tours. We learned that these rats were captured in 1925 in nearby Les Halles, which used to be a huge food market. The Aurouze family, who founded the shop in 1872, must know some talented taxidermists because those rats don’t look a day over 2. (That’s the average lifespan of a rat, by the way.)

If you’re anything like me, these window displays will stop you in your tracks and have you scratching your head for a long time. The whole rat scenario in Paris has me wondering: should we be aggressively exterminating these rodents or is there a way to coexist? Could we force them underground where they would be out of sight, out of mind?
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According to Gilles Demodice, a manager in Paris’ Animal Pest Control Department, “Rats play a very useful role for us because what they eat we do not need to dispose of, so it’s very economical for us, and when rats are underground they also clean the pipes with their fur when they run through them….So we need to keep them. They’re sort of our friends, but they need to stay below. That’s all we ask: that they stay below.”