Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 20, 2009
Chanel, Christian Dior, YSL, Givenchy, Lacroix, Ungaro. Window-shopping at the Place du Vendome this morning made me realize the French are a tour de force in the world of fashion. But with the US dollar at an abysmal low, it’s prohibitively expensive for Statesiders to purchase anything. The other big impediment….size. (We all know that French women are considerably more petite than their US counterparts). But fear not, you can have your vol-au-vont and eat too. Explore the city while whittling your waistline with “velib”.
Velib, short for “vélo liberté”, translates as bicycle freedom. Not a bike-organized movement for equal rights for two wheelers, rather Paris’ hugely successful public bicycle rental program. Launched less than a year ago, Velib now boasts some 20,000 bikes docked in over 1450 pick-up/drop-off stands around the city – virtually one on every street corner. The system is simple to use. Cyclists simply purchase a day ticket for the easy to use terminals for a euro, allowing you unlimited free bike hire over a 24 hour period. Providing each ride is less than 30 minutes, that’s all you’ll pay for the day. A bargain. Prices head steeply upwards with after that: a 90 minute rental will set you back three euros, whereas a five hour rental jumps to 31 euros. This encourages users to stick to short one way trips, keeping the comfortable, classic bikes in circulation. Brilliant.
Not only is it super convenient, it allows you live and breathe Paris just like a local. And best of all, peddling will also help you acquire a dress size comparable to the city’s indigenous femme fatales. Now if only the US dollar would co-operate.