Using the Vélib Bike Service in Paris

Now that the weather is (mostly) conducive to getting around Paris by bicycle, I thought it would be a good time to update the information about using the City of Paris’s municipal bike-share system known as Vélib. It’s had a rocky few years after switching service providers, and while there are still a few bugs to work out, I’ve found them to be pretty reliable for the casual cyclist.

Whether you’ve used them before or are a first-timer, here are a few useful tips on the bikes, how to set up an account, and how to use them.

Most Important Takeaways:

  • Vélib has regular bikes (green) and electric-assisted bikes (blue)
  • Sign up for ALL passes (including 24-hour or 7-day passes) online, NOT directly at the bike station “bornes” (there have been issues with people putting in their credit card info and then not receiving the account number or passcode to be able to check out the bikes).
  • There’s a FREE pass for residents that only charges you if you actually use a bike (this “pay as you go” option is slightly more expensive, but great for the occasional user who wants the option to grab a bike at any moment without fuss).

Click to read more ...


Le Figaro announces the Best Pistachio Ice Cream in Paris

Le Figaroscope is Figaro newspaper’s weekly culture and dining magazine. Aside from being in French (obviously), much of the best content of its online edition is also behind Le Figaro’s paywall, known as Premium Figaro. So if you don’t want to buy the paper edition (which comes out on Wednesdays), you can subscribe online for €9.99/month (the first month is €1, you can cancel any time). It’s not such as bad deal for those of you who are always looking for the latest Paris news and culture. To give you a little “goûter” I thought I’d present the results of their latest blind taste test for the best pistachio ice cream in Paris.

Click to read more ...


What is the "Disneyfication of Paris"? 

The actual Disneyland Paris

I've been pondering this question for the past few months and thought I'd put it to the Secrets of Paris community. "The Disneyfication of Paris" is a phrase that's thrown around a lot, especially after the French film Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (aka Amélie) became one of the biggest hits of 2001 despite the angry critics who said the director showed a fairy-tale version of Paris, not the "real" city. 

The topic has come up again when the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet announced last week that he was going to make a "mockumentary" about the making of the film for its 20th anniversary, but that he was never going to make a sequel because, among other logical reasons, "Paris est moche maintenant" (Paris is ugly now). That got the critics all riled up once again, of course.

But Amélie and Disneyland itself aside (both which I love, by the way), I'm genuinely curious what it means to all of you when you hear the phrase "Disneyfication of Paris". Clearly this is never used without a negative connotation, so let's go with that as the basis. And although this phenomenon applies to other locations around the world, let's just stick to Paris. 

Let me know what you think in the comments below, including any examples of what you might consider to be "Disneyfication" in general or specifically. All opinions welcome to open the conversation. There are no correct answers!


Free Arts Expositions in a 15th-Century Parisian Mansion

The 15th-century Hôtel de Sens is one of the few remaining examples of medieval civil architecture in Paris. It was originally built by a bishop, but its most illustrious resident was the first wife of Henri IV, Reine Margot de Valois. After the 1789 Revolution it was sold off and used to house different businesses over the years, which slowly degraded it until it was finally declared a historic monument in 1862 and became home to a library, the Bibliothèque Forney. It was purchased by the City of Paris in 1911 and slowly restored to its former glory.

Click to read more ...


Sounds of Notre Dame Cathedral

Pentecost bells, May 23, 2010

Christmas Eve Midnight Mass Procession, Dec 24, 2012

Memorial bells after the Charlie Hebdo attack, January 8, 2015


Le Matrimoine Parisien - Discover the City's Female Cultural Heritage

Le Matrimoine Parisien is a student project that lists women's cultural creations in the city of Paris on an interactive map. I thought this was such a great project that I wanted to be able to share it with all of the Secrets of Paris readers! As the background information, instructions on using the map, and information about the creators is just as important as the map itself, I have translated the entirely of the text into English here as a reference for those of you who can’t easily translate the French yourselves. The links are all direct to the original website. Enjoy, and please share, like and follow these wonderful artists on the Matrimoine Parisien FB and Twitter accounts! - Heather

Click to read more ...