Within Paris Travel

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Paris offers a number of ways to get around the city and a number of options/transport packages depending on your use of the transport system.  Whether Vélib’, metro, bus, walking, taxis…there’s something for everyone, well…not always a taxi for everyone…

VIDEO

Walking
Métro
Bus
Vélib’
Taxis
Scooter/Motorcycle
Car

Walking
Like many European cities, Paris is quite walkable as it is actually rather compact.  Often times a thirty minute walk would be the same if you took the metro, and thus walking is the preferred method unless it’s rainy or cold.  Walking is also a wonderful way to get to know the city, to orientate yourself, and to get some fresh air and exercise.

Métro

BEST TOOL: Enter your Start and Destination Address on the Paris transport website, and it will spit out the most efficient metro lines or bus routes to take, how long they will take, and you can pick whether you take the metro, the bus, or a mix, as well as the fastest route, or the one with the least transfers. PLAN YOUR ROUTE HERE.

Like any capital city, Paris has a metro.  It is reputed as one of the best in the world for the quickness and consistency of its service and the accessibility and frequency of its stops.  That said, everything is relative so if you haven’t experienced, say, the Washington, DC metro system, you will scorn the two minutes you might have to sit on the track while traffic flow regulates, or when you arrive on the platform to see one train take off and the next one to arrive in six minutes (it can be 20 in Washington).  Certain lines are a little dirty with older trains, the doors are a bit sticky and the floors a bit grimy, but they get you places and with 14 lines, you’re bound to find a one-two combination that efficiently gets you anywhere in Paris.
Most recently, the “ticket windows” or “guichet” manned by a RATP employee have been turned into “Information” booths that allow you to ask for assistance, but you are required to purchase your tickets at one of the machines (they can assist you).  Quite often, one of the machines will accept bills, but they will all accept credit cards and coins.  You might see a separate machine that is simply for recharging the metro pass “Navigos” – you cannot buy single tickets here.
At the ticket machines, you will be able to purchase singular tickets up to a quantity of nine at a time, or you can buy a “carnet” or “booklet” of 10 tickets, up to nine booklets at a time.  Buying a booklet offers a discount.  At the moment, a single metro ticket costs 1.60 no matter where you are traveling within zone one of Paris.  A book of ten costs you 12.50, so you get a savings of 35 cents on the ticket.

Bus

BEST TOOL: Enter your Start and Destination Address on the Paris transport website, and it will spit out the most efficient metro lines or bus routes to take, how long they will take, and you can pick whether you take the metro, the bus, or a mix, as well as the fastest route, or the one with the least transfers. PLAN YOUR ROUTE HERE.

If you don’t like going underground and prefer a more scenic route around Paris, then the bus is for you!  The upside: sometimes more direct, less crowded, and without the need to walk around under ground to make transfers. The downside: traffic jams can’t assure you accurate arrival times, and sometimes it’s VERY crowded. The bus costs as much as the metro, and your Navigo passes will work on buses the same as they would for the metro.  You can also use the tickets you buy in the metro on the bus. The same ticket can be used within 1.5 hours after it is first validated to make transfers between the metro and the bus, or the RER and the bus. Find several Paris bus maps HERE.

Vélib’

Vélib’ is a fantastic idea that the mayor of Paris coordinated just a few years ago.  It’s a rent-a-bike system that allows you to pull a bike from one station and take it from one end of the city to the other and park it at a new station.  Your commitment to that bike is over once you park it.  The first half hour is included in the original rental fee*, but over a half an hour and you will be charged incrementally more.  There are three options in order to use the system :

  1. Create an account for a day: you can use the system for the day and it will cost you XXX.  The one hang up: you need to have a “puce” or a chip in your card in order for it to work (most American cards don’t have them). You will be given a temporary ID number which will be asked of you every time you want to pull out a bike from a station that day. You are asked for a 250 euro deposit that is placed on your card (like when you’re renting a car), but it will never been taken from your account unless you lose or never return the bike.
  2. Create an account for seven days: Like the one day pass, you can request an ID that will last for seven days.  This will cost you XXX.
  3. Subscribe to the service for a year: For 30 euros a year, you can have the service at the tip of your fingers any time of day, day of the week, 365 days of the year. The first 30 minutes of each ride are included as they are in the one and seven day pass, but then the cost of renting goes up in the subsequent hour and so on.  *For 45 euros a year, you can increase that 30 minutes to 45 minutes each time you ride. If you have a pass Navigo, you can simply sign up using this. If you don’t, you will be required to get one.

Taxis

Yes – it’s a bit like that – the exact opposite of New York City, and if you’ve never been in New York City, just imagine trying to hail a taxi when it just starts to rain in any city, and that is what it is always like in Paris. Taxis are a rare commodity in Paris.  You will find yourself at the mercy of the taxi drivers – they will and can refuse to take you as a passenger if you are not going in the direction they wish to go in (very often this is because they have a pick-up scheduled in a certain area of Paris and if you’re on their way, then great! if not, then your a SOL). The sure-fire way to get a taxi when you know you’ll need one is to call one of the major companies and schedule a pick-up.
Note: the taxi which is assigned to pick you up (usually the closest available) is legally allowed to start their meter as soon as they head in your direction from their last drop-off.  You may find the meter at six or even seven euros before you even get in and you are responsible for paying this.  Companies have even started to charge booking fees for taxis that are scheduled in advance (not for taxis that are ordered for immediate pick-up).

Read our Taxi Sharing post on the How To Live In Paris BLOG!

Major companies:

If you wish to hail a taxi on the street, laws are getting more lax, but technically you’re only supposed to at an official Taxi stop.  They are usually near bus stops, or near street corners, and they’ve got signs like this one below, and there is usually a line.

Uber

Uber is the newest option for private vehicle transport in Paris and is giving the taxi companies a run for their money. Uber connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services. You must first sign-up and join Uber via their website or their mobile app before being able to use their services. The upside to using Uber is that the driver comes to you, and doesn’t charge you until you’re in the car.

Scooter/Motorcycle

You’ll quickly see it’s no Rome, but Paris has a LOT of scooters zipping between cars and getting dangerously close to you as they park on the sidewalks.  Motorcycles are prevalent, but they’re usually parked in lots as the users are more often coming in from outside of Paris and prefer the power of a motorcycle on the highways that circle Paris. We won’t aim to be the resource for scooter or motorcycle aficionados, but we can say they cost between 1,000 (for used or cheaper models) and 10,00 euros (for the biggest, newest, most tricked-out scooters or three-wheelers).  You will need to get a scooter licence (around 250 euros and good for up to a 150 cc scooter), as well as insurance (VERY important for an item that is often kicked over, has their mirrors ripped off, or their cases cracked open). Motorcycles are more of a serious game, and the licence is much more expensive, and the expense more along the lines of a car. The plus side of scooters compared to cars is obvious: traffic isn’t as much of a problem, parking is easier, and gas is much cheaper. As for maintenance, Tim talks about how to take care of a car (maintenance, gas, parking….(a lot still applies):

Car

We don’t claim to know anything about cars as we are far from being car owners or needing a car in Paris with all the above options at our finger tips.  Tim here travels with a lot of equipment for his job, and so a car was a smart purchase.  Here’s how he bought a used one.

The city of Paris website has a host of solutions for parking.  Here they are in sum:

Public Parking: Public spaces run on a meter system – once you park in a spot, you must look for the nearest paying machine – it has a big P on it usually. Anyone can park here, but you will need to display the ticket you print from the machine in the front window of your car. When you own a car in Paris, you will be given a residential parking card by your arondissement’s mairie. You will be asked to display this, as well as the ticket generated by the meter in the window of your car. In order to reduce traffic in Paris, Parisians are authorised to leave their cars parked near their home for a duration of no longer than seven days at a rate of 65 cents a day, or 3.25 for the week, except for Saturdays, Sundays, bank holidays and the month of August which are all free!

Private Garages: Some companies such as Vinci have underground garages around Paris where you can pay to park your car by hour, day, week, monthly, or yearly.  Often if you don’t have a spot in your building, you can pay a monthly rate to park your car in one of these garages. This is preferential if you don’t want to be driving around looking for a vacant spot on the street. This is also usually safer for your car, as they tend to be monitored.

Delivery Zones “livraison”: There are 7,000 delivery zone spots around Paris, but be careful when you choose to park there.  You won’t get ticketed according to the city of Paris website, from Monday to Saturday after 8pm, and before 7am on spots that are enclosed by a dotted yellow line.  Sundays and bank holidays are free throughout the whole day. You are NEVER allowed to part in delivery spots that have a thick yellow line surrounding them. Never.

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