Archive for the ‘Practical info’ Category
A follow-up to our post about Velib: they now allow you to purchase tickets online, which is good news for visitors who have trouble getting their credit cards to work in the Velib docking stations (it seems the issue has to do with the smart chip, which most North-American cards lack).
You can choose a 1-day ticket for €1.70, a 7-day ticket for €8, or a year-long ticket for €29. Velib requires a €150 deposit which is returned once the the bike is returned. Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Blue Visa are accepted.
Make sure your read the FAQ online to fully understand the Terms and Conditions before hiring a Velib. Once you choose the validity period of your ticket, and purchase it, you will receive an email with subscription number and PIN that you will need to enter each time you pick up your bicycle.
We’ve used Velib on many occasions and have never had any issues. It’s a great way to get around the city. And, given the heat this summer, a better alternative than the metro. Here is a handy checklist of things you should keep in mind when getting your Velib bicylcle:
- Make sure you have a map showing you where the stations are (click here for an online map). You can also download the free Velib iPhone app. Otherwise, inquire in tourist information areas or kiosks for a map.
- Before you take your bike off of the dock: check the tires, wiggle the handlebars/seat/etc. to make sure nothing is loose, spin the pedals to make sure they are not blocked. Note: if you discover a problem within one minute of pulling the bike from the dock, simply return it to the same place and take another bike immediately. Otherwise, you will have to wait 5 minutes.
- The first 30 minutes are free, which is usually plenty of time to get anywhere you need to go. If you go over the 30 minute mark, these are the charges: €1 up to 1 hour, €2 up to 1 1/2 hours, €4 up to 2 hours.
Note: some stations will be closed this July 13 & 14 for Bastille Day celebrations. See this list here.
Photo by carlosfpardo
Bastille Day in France is a grandiose affair. Held on July 14 of each year, it’s officially known as La Fête Nationale, and more informally known as le quartorze juillet. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789. With this symbol of royal authority overthrown, revolutionary France was born. This date marks the beginning of the modern nation of France.
Revelry abounds on July 14, and it behooves one to plan ahead. The pyrotechnical displays from the jardins du Trocadéro and le Pont d’Iéna are hard to miss, but of course there are some better views than others. If you’re lucky enough to be able to view the Eiffel Tower from a hotel room or an apartment, you can avoid the crowds. If you are going to see the displays from one of the city’s many vantage points on the ground, get there early to save your spot. Also, avoid going by car or bus and opt for the metro or RER.
The show starts at 23:00 and lasts 30 minutes. This year’s musical theme is, “Les Comédies Musicales, de Broadway à Paris”
The best metro stations to attend the fireworks show in the center:
- Line 8: La Motte-Piquet
- Line 6: Dupleix, Cambronne
- Line 10: Emile Zola, La Motte-Piquet, Segur
- Line 13: St-François-Xavier, Varenne
- RER: Javel, Austerlitz and Invalides
The best spot for viewing the fireworks in this area is the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower (the side of the river opposite the gardens of the Trocadero), as the Trocadero will be closed to the public. (click here to see area on Google maps)
- Stations: Iena, Alma Marceau and La tour Maubourg will be closed on July 14 at 19:00 and will not reopen
- Traffic: The traffic around a wide perimeter of the Trocadero will be closed at 17:00
- Velib: The Velib stations located near Champ de Mars will be closed throughout the day on July 14
Bastille Day 2010
L'intégralité du feu d'artifice du 14 juillet 2010 par mairiedeparis
For those who want to delve deeper into the history of fireworks displays in Paris, head over the the city’s free historical museum, Musée Carnavalet. There is an exhibition there tracing the history of fireworks celebrations from the times of Louis XIV to Napoleon I. As with the rest of the museum, the exhibition is free. It is showing until September 25
For more events read on: Continue reading “Bastille Day: Where to go” »
As you know with the launch of Paris M&M, our free iPhone app, we here at Paris Museums love serendipity when it comes to exploring this vast city. But, just like a jazz musician improvises from a base of bebop scales, a little guidance always makes your journeys more enjoyable.
The Mairie de Paris (Paris City Hall) keeps this in mind with its Heritage Strolls. They are not associated with any of the organized tours, and each stroll is organized by a different theme. Just print out the documents (linked below) and follow whatever portion of the routes interest you the most. The Mairie says you’ll be tempted to duck into many of the museums along the way. Our app, which utilizes the built-in GPS of your iPhone, is perfect for keeping you informed of what attraction is closest to you.
- The Vestiges of Ancient Paris Stroll: Discover the city’s rich ancient Roman heritage
- The Great Minds Stroll: Walk in the footsteps of great thinkers like Rousseau, Compte, Diderot and Voltaire
- The Paris Bell-Tower Stroll: A tour of some of Paris’ impressive Bell Towers
- The Mosaics Stroll: Thanks to their popularity at the turn of the century, mosaics can be found in edifices all over the city. This is a tour of some of the most remarkable among them
- The Paris Bridge-and-Statue Stroll: Explore some of the most notable bridges and statues along the world-famous Seine
- The Knights and Horses Stroll: A historic swath of the city punctuated by statues of military heroes featuring, for the most part, horses
Parisians are known to take great pride in their parks, and their fair city boasts more than 400 of them, some dating back to the 17th century. If you want a place to cool off and relax this summer, look no further.
Here are some of the most notable parks in Paris
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is among the largest public parks in the city. It is immensely popular with tourists and is a great place for children. There is a pond in the center of the garden where kids can rent boats, and there is a playground, merry-go-round, pony rides and a puppet theater. The fountains and statues in the park have made it world famous.
Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries‘ central location have made it one of the most popular parks in Paris. Between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, it boasts a large pond, beautiful sculptures and two museums (l’Orangerie and Jeu de Paume). It was designed by André Le Nôtre in 1664, who also designed the gardens of Versailles. Don’t forget to visit the Fête Foraine du Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries fun fair) with its large ferris wheel and games.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Another notable park in Paris, but it stands out from the others due to its location on a hilltop. Waterfalls, lakes, a grotto, and the Belvedere of Sybil add a romantic touch to this park. There is an island in the park’s lake that offers good views. It is a great place for jogging too.
Bois de Vincennes
The Bois de Vincennes is an English-styled park on the eastern fringes of Paris. It is well known for its pathways, lakes, gazebos and hilly picnic spots. There is also a farm, a zoo, and a fairground here. Open-air jazz concerts are held at a botanical park.
Parc Andre Citroen
This is one of the most well-known modern parks of the city. It is built on an area that was previously an industrial site, and has been named after Citroen, the automobile manufacturer. This park has a contemporary setting – there are touches of English, French and Japanese styles in the garden. There are theme gardens here, like an herbal garden and a children’s park.
A beautiful park in the 8th arrondissement, Parc Monceau was established by Phillippe d’Orléans, Duke of Chartres, close friend of George IV, and anglophile. Hence, another charming English-style park where Monet once painted and where Berlioz was fond of strolling.
Parc de la Villette
Found along the quai in the 19th arrondisement, Parc de la Villette was designed by Bernard Tshumi under the guidance of none other than Jaqcues Derrida, the deconstuctionist philosopher. It is conceptualized to be a “non-space” without clearly defined monuments that tourists can take in on whirlwind tours. The most iconic elements of the park are the folies (seen in the picture above) and despite the heady concepts behind its inception, the large open spaces of Parc de la Villette are great for playing frisbee or having a picnic. It’s also right next to the science museum, Cité des Sciences.
In it we cover some of the main attractions you can’t miss in each of the first eight arrondisements. It is by no means an exhaustive list, and we hope it will serve as a springboard for your Paris adventures. The key word is serendipity. Find a district with a few things you like and get lost in it! As we suggest in the post, you can download our free Paris app which utilizes the native GPS technology of your iPhone to find the nearest attractions, wherever you are. And it works even if you have roaming turned off.
Velib is a unique bicycle rental program in Paris that was started in 2007 based on the successful model of Lyon’s Vélo’v. The entire system across the city is automated. In the first year as many as 750 automated rental stations were opened, and this was increased to 1,450 the next year. The objective was that the distance between two stations would never be more than 300 meters. It can be argued that Velib is the biggest bicycle rental service in the world.
The Velib program started with 7,000 bicycles, but the authorities added more soon due to popular demand, and the figure has gone up to 20,600 bicycles. It was started to provide an alternative means of transportation for those who use the city’s public transportation system. Velib is also part of Paris’ green initiative to reduce pollution.
Here is a map showing the many Velib stations across Paris. Each station has stands where dozens of bicycles can stand at any time.
Renting the Bicycles
It is necessary to subscribe to the system to use these bicycles. Subscriptions start at just €1 for 30 minutes (plenty of time to get to most parts of Paris), €29 for a year, or €5 for a week. The week and year-long subscriptions allow the user an unlimited number of rentals within that time period.
For every individual trip, the first half hour is free. For each subsequent 30 minutes of use, the rental charge is between €1 and €4. So, if you are within a 30 minute ride from your destination, you could actually end up paying nothing more than the subscription.
As a tourist you can rent one of these using your credit card. For €1 you will get your Velib velo for 30 minutes. A €150 euro security deposit is taken on your credit card that will be returned the moment your bicycle is docked back into a Velib station.
Velib provides a useful (and free) app which helps you find the nearest station and the number of bicycles available at each one. However, the map is online, meaning you have to have a WiFi or 3G connection in order to use it. Tourists without international calling plans probably won’t find much use for this as they won’t have internet access as they stroll about town. But locals using the Velib network certainly will.
Problems Faced By Velib
Velib has faced certain problems too, particularly because of theft and vandalism. Of the 7,000 bicycles that were introduced in the first year, as many as 3,000 ended up being stolen, and needed to be replaced. And of the 20,600 bicycles that were introduced in the next year, as many as 16,000 were vandalized or stolen. Velib bicycles have been spotted as far away as North Africa and Eastern Europe.