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Getting around in Paris: some tips and helpful advice

What is the best way of getting to your hotel from the airport? What means of transport should you use in Paris? What you need to know about taxis in Paris. Good tips and common pitfalls to avoid.

You have touched down at the airport. What should you do next?

You have just arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport. Provided that you are not carrying too much luggage, the quickest and cheapest way to get to Paris is the express train, or ‘RER’, which costs just €10. You will be guaranteed a seat, as the two stations that serve the airport are at the beginning of the line. There is also a shuttle bus service, the ‘Roissybus’, which takes you directly to Paris and stops near to the Palais Garnier, costing €11. It takes a little longer but you will not need to change.

If you are coming from Orly airport, provided that you are travelling light, you can take the tram number T7 and alight at Villejuif Arragon station, where you can change and take metro line 7 to get off at Palais Garnier.

If you are leaving the airport before 6.30 am or after 8.30 pm, one option may be to take a taxi, as there will be little traffic at this time.

The minimum fare to the centre of Paris is around €60-65 from Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle and around €40-45 from Orly airport. You may have to wait a long time for a taxi. It is better to pay in cash. If not, you should make sure that you ask the taxi driver if credit cards are accepted. Unfortunately, taxi drivers rarely accept them.

What you need to know about taxis in Paris

Is it easy to track down a taxi?

No. There are around the same number of taxis in Paris as there are in New York, but there are around 25 times fewer private hire taxis. Furthermore, taxis in Paris mainly operate through a booking system, so it is difficult to hail a cab in the street, especially at certain busy times.

Why don’t taxis always stop?

Taxi is free if its light is on (green or white)

They should have their light on (green or white) If a taxi is going to stop, they will probably lower their window in order to show their credentials. They will ask you where you wish to go and will either agree to take you or not. Can they turn down the journey?

Yes, if:

  • You want to go to a district that is far away
  • You are in a group of 4 people, meaning that you will probably exceed the maximum authorised capacity for the vehicle
  • You are travelling with a pet
  • If they are finishing their shift within half an hour and your destination is too far from the taxi depot.

Should you give a tip?

Le « Tip » est n’est pas une obligation mais simplement la reconnaissance d’une satisfaction et il n’est pas de règle d’en donner systématiquement.

How should you ask about your destination?

The taxi driver is required to ask you if you have a preferred route. If you are unsure, ask the taxi driver what he would suggest and nod knowingly. It will always be better than replying that you don’t know.

What to do at a taxi point?

Legislation requires that taxi drivers cannot pick up a customer if they are at least 50 metres away from a taxi point. At a taxi point, you are entitled to chose your vehicle, but it is inadvisable to do so. A good trick is to chose a vehicle that accepts credit cards. They are often more comfortable and you are less likely to be refused by the driver, but it may take you longer to find a cab.

How can you be sure that the fare is correct?

You would need to have a graduate degree in taxi driving in order to fully understand how the fares work. But the taxis are equipped with a meter, which can be verified by the taxi police (known colloquially as the boers). It is therefore very unlikely that the meter will display the incorrect fare. As regards supplementary fees, every 4th passenger will mean an increase of €3 and €1 will be charged for each item of luggage over the 2nd bag,

Information about fares:

Do you need to have the correct change?

It is advisable. If your taxi does not have a credit card terminal or if the machine is not working, having the right amount would be an advantage. In any case, it will not be quick and easy to receive your change from the driver.

Is it better to book a taxi?

It would certainly be more sensible to do so. However, you should bear in mind that taxi drivers in Paris apply a fee for having to drive to the airport from their previous location and will still run their meters if you are late. If you book in advance, it is probable that this fee will be even higher!

From the 1st March 2016, a flat rate will be charged for this fee. The additional fee will be €7 for a direct booking made at the airport and €4 for an advanced booking. You will also be subject to a pick-up charge of €2.60, which is always applied.

You can also install the Paris Taxis app, which is provided by the City of Paris.

So, what means of transport should you chose for getting around in Paris?

Paris is not very spread out as a capital city. You can walk around Paris in just over two hours. You can reach the outskirts of the city from the Hôtel Etats-Unis Opéra in little more than an hour.

If you wish to use public transport, it is advisable to use the metro or bus. It is advisable to buy a carnet, or book of 10 tickets, rather than opting for a special tourist ticket or weekly ticket, as it is unlikely that you will get full value out of them given the central location of the Hôtel Etats-Unis Opéra.

The Paris metro network is very extensive. It is served by a total of 302 stations and 16 lines. Opening hours: 5.30 am until 1.30 am on weekdays and 5.30 am until 2.15 am on Saturday and Sunday. Please note, these times refer to the arrival times of the trains.

Read our article “Tips and helpful advice for travelling to Paris”:

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