Nancy has a small self-service on-street bicycle rental system called vélOstan’lib, with 29 stations, 250 bicycles and 560 docking points. These numbers have not changed since 2015, so either they haven’t expanded the system since then or (more likely) they have neglected to update the numbers on their website.
The name vélOstan’lib is made up of three words: vélo meaning bicycle, stan in honor of the last Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas Leszczyński, and lib being short for libre-service, meaning self-service.
The word stan is also a retroacronym for Service de transport de l’agglomération nancéienne (Service of Transport of the Agglomeration of Nancy).
The capital O in the middle of vélOstan’lib (which to me looks ridiculous, but who am I to judge?) is apparently an idea they got from the city of Toulouse, which calls its bike-sharing system VélÔToulouse (with an accent circonflexe on the capital O).
My experience in all three of these cities (each of which has roughly thirty bike stations) is that I used the bikes more for recreation than for transportation. Since these cities are so compact, most of the places I wanted to visit were within easy walking distance from the train station and from my hotel, so there was no real need for a bike to get from one place to another.
As in most French cities, visitors can use the on-street rental bikes in Nancy by buying a one-day or seven-day ticket. Prices vary from city to city, but Nancy is one of the most economical, charging only € 1.50 for a one-day ticket or € 5.00 for a seven-day ticket. This entitles you to unlimited rides of up to thirty minutes each. If you keep the same bike for longer than that, there is an additional charge of € 1.00 per half hour. A recently-added feature of vélOstan’lib is that the one-day tickets are now free on weekends, though you still have to pay the extra charge for longer rides. (Prices as of 2022.)
The red bikes in these photos are vélOstan bikes with no ‘lib at the end, meaning that they are not just for short-term rentals and cannot be rented at one of the 29 self-service bike stations. This kind of bike can be rented for a minimum of half a day, but also for a full day, a week, a month, three months or a year at one of the nine “vélOstan boutiques” in Greater Nancy.
My photos in this post are from 2015 and 2017. I revised the text in 2022.