What a Nice surprise when we visited our Nice apartment earlier this year to find that another fantastic and pioneering transport scheme has been implemented across the City.
Not only can you still take a bus 72 minutes to anywhere in or out of Nice for just a Euro, or travel on the brand new modern tramway from one end of the City to the other. Now you can use the Brand new Nice Velo Bleu community bi-cycle hire system.
You can pick up one of 900 available bikes distributed across no less than 90 stations across the City, hop on and go anywhere. There is even a flat cycle path right the way along the coast all the way from Nice to Cagnes-sur-Mer.
If want to use the bikes as hop on hop off facility, it's only 5 Euros to sign up for a weeks membership or you can just join for a day for a Euro. As a member you then can take any bike whenever you need it and only be charged when your using it. Better still, if you know where your going and it's near a bike station then you can travel for free as journeys less that 30 minutes are completely gratis. Price for One hour is 1 Euro and then it's basically 2 Euro's an hour after that.
The nearest Bike Station to the Apartment is Bike Station 67 on Felix Faure in Espace Messena which is basically at the end of the street so you can always jump strait on a bike if you want when you leave the apartment and stow it again at the station when your not using it to get the maximum benefit of only being charged when your actually cycling.
Velo Blue bikes are well maintained and have quick release adjustable seats and bars, lights, handy carrying basket, bell, front and back breaks and a selection of gears. They only currently do adult bikes but which would be suitable for older children, We suggest you try one for size while it's parked in the Bike Station which you can easily do as they just sit their waiting for people to come along and pick them up. (At this point we should point out that the official line is a minimum age is 14).
If you have younger children and need smaller bikes or special equipment needs such as stabilizers, baby seats, tow behind buggies then their is a fantastic shop 300m from the Apartment that will sort you out, but expect to pay a little more for their flexibility and choice.
Here's how to sign up:
Option 1: Do it online
Our Nice apartment has free wireless internet so you can do it in comfort. But first you need to learn french as although there is English marketing, technical instructions and terms/conditions the Velu Bleu e-commerce site appears to be just in French. So if French forms do not throw you into a frenzy, this link: Velu Bleu - French
Or use this sneaky link to see an English version via Google translate Blue Bike - English
Option 2: Do it by phone
You will need to do this with your mobile phone and your credit card
Call on the number Velo Bleu on +33 (0)4 30 00 30 01 and before you frenzy out by the automated french attendant hang on the line and select option 2 for the very british English version.
Next choose option * to indicate you are a new customer and then choose option 1 to sign up.
Provide your credit card details (they accept Carte Bleu, Visa or Mastercard) and your mobile phone number (don't forget your country code e.g. 44 for UK and drop the leading 0[zero])You are guided through the whole thing and able to choose the length you wish to join up for. After this your membership is all set up and you access to bikes from any bike station.
Picking up a bike:
Once your a member, picking up a bike is a simple affair, simply rock up at a Bike Station, choose your machine and then follow the simple instructions, similar to below;
i) Press the button on the Bike Station machine to wake it up.
ii) Choose the bike you want to take by touching the on screen display.
iii) Phone the number shown on the screen, dialing +33 for France(It's free as it does not connect)
iv) The Bike unlocks and Bobs your uncle.
Returning your Bike is even simpler.
i) Find a free parking space. ii) Press the button on the Bike Station to wake it up. iii) Select the return bike option. iv) Plug the bike back into the Bike Station and your done.
Below is an intercatvie map of the all the Velo Bleu bike stations in Nice including real-time view of how many bikes are available and how many free parking spaces there are.