• France's news in English
All you need to know about driving a scooter in Paris
Photo: Shawn Clover/Flickr

All you need to know about driving a scooter in Paris

Oliver Gee · 4 Oct 2016, 12:42

Published: 04 Oct 2016 12:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Oct 2016 12:42 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Oh the thrills of riding a scooter in Paris.
Being able to see new the far-off corners of the city, zooming up the hills of Montmartre, and using it for secret encounters with your mistress (as President Hollande famously did). 
But it's not all smooth riding. Here are a few practical tips to consider. 
Photo: AFP
Parking fines
Parking a scooter in Paris (legally) is no easy feat. The main reason for this is because there simply aren't enough parking places. 
Some estimates suggest there are 100,000 more scooters than parking spots in the city. 
And with a parking fine costing €35, it's not a mistake you want to make too many times. 
Where to park?
Look for a sign with a clear blue P and a picture of a motorbike, together with the words "2 Roues" (2 wheels). 
You can always leave your car in a garage (see more info here) but be prepared to shell out around €100 a month. 
And don't leave it in the middle of the footpath, in front of shop doorways, on man hole covers - you might find it is towed away. 
"Parking isn't generally a problem unless you leave it somewhere blatantly obstructing something," says scooter owner David Chambers.
The lack of spaces to park has prompted motorist groups to stage huge protests in the past (see video below), but things haven't changed too much in recent years.
Getting towed
If you've parked illegally, the authorities might take your bike and charge you for the experience (on top of the fine and a few euros per day as a storage fee). 
But finding your scooter is missing due to it being towed is better than if its missing because of thieves. 
Be prepared for thieves
News flash: There are thieves in Paris. And not only will they try and take things from your bike, they may also try and take the bike itself. 
Invest in a proper chained lock to tie it to a pole at nights, otherwise you may join a very long list of people who've woken up to find their bike missing. 
A chain will also stop other moped users from moving your scooter so they can pinch your parking spot. 
French actor Gerard Depardieu in Paris on his scooter. Photo: AFP
Leave the inside empty
Don't store things inside the seat or the top case - especially not your helmet - as thieves may bust that open too. And accept in advance that the side mirrors may be broken or stolen for absolutely no reason. Sad, but true. 
One Vespa owner advised The Local to purposely leave the seat storage unlocked and empty so the thieves won't break the lock in a fruitless attempt to find your valuables. 
Get gloves
A recently-passed law means that from November 20th, it will be compulsory to wear gloves if you've got a scooter (or motorbike).
Failing to do so puts you at risk of a €68 fine and the loss of one point from your driving license. 
The move is strictly for motorists' safety, with the government's Journal Officiel website saying the move aims to "limit serious injuries to hands and forearms". 
Bear in mind you're also supposed to have a high visibility vest on you that you are supposed to wear if you break down.
France forces motorbike and scooter riders to wear gloves
Photo: AFP
Get insurance
Insurance might be expensive, but as we mentioned above, there's a good chance your bike will be stolen. 
If you don't want to cough up the full insurance, get insured against accidents on the road, as the driving skills of people in Paris can leave a lot to be desired (scooter riders are often just as bad, to be fair). 
Lastly, insurance will be a saviour for you if you're unlucky enough to find your bike torched during the night, as 52 bike owners found this weekend
IN PICS: What's left after Paris arsonists set mopeds ablaze  Photo: Twitter/@Serianox_
Riding through the stationary traffic
Since February this year, it has been legal for motorbikers and scooter riders to ride through stationary traffic. They'd been doing it all along, sure, but now it's legal as part of a four-year trial that has also been rolled out in Marseille, Bordeaux, and Lyon. More info here
But bear in mind you might have to use your horn to get those pesky car drivers to give you enough room to pass.
Story continues below…
Overtake at your own peril
Try not to overtake on the right hand side of the traffic, as passenger doors open far too regularly. 
Rent one if you can't buy one...
Of course, you don't have to buy a scooter. Cityscoot rolled out its fleet of electric scooters in June this year, offering those in central Paris their own scooter at a base rate of 28 cents a minute. 
Prepare for red lights
There are lots of them. And while cyclists and Velib riders will happily pass through them, often legally, scooters must wait for the green light (even if many don't). But police will be happy to hand out fines if they catch you.
You're not on a Velib bike anymore so..
You have to stay out of the bike lanes. Fed up with the lines of traffic, impatient scooter drivers in Paris often opt for the bicycle lane, but these, officially anyway, are out of bounds.
Enjoy the savings
With basic insurance costing just €40 a month, and with a full tank of petrol costing as little as €5, driving a scooter could end up costing you less than a Navigo pass for public transport. 
But remember, it can be a bit miserable in the winter or the rain.
Drive safe!
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

Millionaire Riviera hotel boss kidnapped in broad daylight
The city of Nice where the millionaire was bundled into a car infront of shocked onlookers. Photo: AFP

The millionaire head of a luxury hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes was kidnapped in Nice in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available