Cycling at night in Paris

One of the things I really love is cycling home at night after the opera.

This is even more magical in Paris because you not only have the opera going through your head, you also have Paris all around you.

Bicycles and a taxi on Boulevard Sebastopol

You do have to look out for the taxis, though, because they come out at night like moths. And they are allowed to use the bus lanes just as we are.

Rear light on my bike in Paris

You have to have front and rear lights on your bike, that’s important. If you use the Vélib’ bikes, this is seldom a problem, because they have front and rear lights that go on automatically, day or night, as soon as you start to ride.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, public transport schedules get thinned out in the late evening anyway, so by taking a bike you can avoid having long waits for the next train or bus to come.

Reportedly about 25 % of all Vélib’ rides are taken between 8pm and 3am.

Checking out Vélib’ bikes at night, Place de la Madeleine

A nighttime Vélib’ ride at Trinité

My photos in this post are from 2006, 2008 and 2011. I revised the text in 2020.

See more cycling posts.

8 thoughts on “Cycling at night in Paris”

  1. Kind of scary to see a few bikes without lights. We’re very careful about lights here because people drive so fast and really don’t watch very carefully for bicycles. Most of us wear reflective vests and flashing lights on a headband too. That probably wouldn’t be fashionable in Paris. 😉

  2. One of the first skill kids here in Germany must learn is to ride their bike.My daughter learned it in one day but she rode first her “Laufrad” for quite a while. Now all children rides their bike to school and kindergartens even in Winter! So different from the culture that I´ve grown with.
    Many times, I prefer riding my bike instead of car since its fast :-)) I can even ride my bike even if I had a glass of beer from Biergartens!

  3. Don! Great post on cycling in Paris at night, you are a braver man than I!!!! I’m headed to Frankfurt for a couple days in May…. any recommendations for restaurants or other activities? This is my first visit to Germany!

    1. Cycling in Paris has gotten a lot safer in recent years, since they are finally building protected bicycle lanes instead of just painting lines on the streets.

      I’ve been living in Frankfurt for well over fifty years now, but still have trouble making suggestions for first-time visitors. The outstanding thing about Frankfurt for me is its opera company, which is one of the world’s finest despite not having the financial clout of the operas in Munich or Vienna..
      Until two years ago I was also very happy with my teaching situation here in Frankfurt, until Covid brought my courses to a screeching halt. (Also, our favorite restaurant has been torn down to make room for a new apartment building, but we can’t really blame Covid for that.)

  4. This is the first time I have really wanted to go to Paris. The idea of cycling the streets at night, in the peace and darkness really attracts me. Awesome!

  5. I loved this. Makes me want to pick up and read a little John Baxter. Your photos would match his prose so well. I’m always delighted when I see your name. 🙂

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