July 27, 2009
One of the Vélo bleu stations on the Prom in front of our apartment
From the 18th of July we now have in the centre of Nice a self-service bicycle hiring service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hire fees cost nothing for the first 30 minutes, one euro for a day, 5 euros for a week, 10 euros for a month and 25 euros for a year.
There are 2 ways: by contactless card, which you can receive by registering online your address and bank account (Vélo Bleu or Ligne d'Azur smartcard) or by mobile phone by calling +33 (0)4 30 00 30 01 (if any problems, there's a support desk: 33 (0)4 93 72 06 06) and using your credit card.
Picking up a bike:
1. First, users go through a one-time automated telephone registration, also available in English (select option 2). You’ll be asked to type in your credit card details, authorising Vélo Bleu to debit your account for your pass fee, as well as €150 should you fail to return a bike. Also provide your mobile phone number (don't forget your country code e.g. 44 for UK and drop the leading 0[zero].
2. Next up, grab a bike from a stand by selecting the ‘Subscribe here’ (English) option from a computer at one of the bike stands. Choose the duration of the pass you’d like to purchase (e.g. 1 day). The computer screen flashes a specific number you must call from your mobile (note all calls are free): the Vélo Bleu database identifies you, charges your credit card and activates your chosen pass.
3. Finally, select ‘Find a bike’. Call the number it gives you and the database again identifies you; you are then instructed to choose your bike. The bike is automatically unlocked from the stand. Unplug its lock and ride off.
Returning your bike:
When you have finished, you go to one of the 90 stations (with 900 bicycles, later on this will be 175 stations with 1750 bikes and 125 km of cycle paths), activate your return terminal and hook up your bicycle in a free place. The time you have been using the bicycle is recorded and the sum will be debited from your user account.
More information (in french) at www.velobleu.org
Some information on the site in english
Click here to see a map of Nice city centre with the vélo bleu stations.