You’ll soon see that getting around in Paris is definitely easy. The entire city is well-connected and most districts can even be visited on foot. However, you will need some other form of transportation in order to get a good glimpse at what makes this city amazing, so keep the following tips in mind.
Paris’ Metro – or subway – is definitely the quickest and cheapest way to get around. Its 300 entrances are marked with big yellow "M" and are very difficult to miss. The Metro has 16 different lines that cover most of the city and will take you practically anywhere. Maps are easily available both online and at ticket offices or information stands across the city. Download Paris Metro Map.
Metro lines operate every day from around 6 AM to 0:30 AM, with less frequencies during Sundays and public holidays. Every station carries a sign displaying how long the next train will be, but chances are you’ll never have to wait longer than 10 minutes for the train to arrive. The white, simple tickets are valid for 2 hours until you exit the Metro system. You can also purchase 10 tickets for a cheaper price per ticket or 1 day, 1 week or 1 month passes. Keep your ticket with you at all times since controlling is usual.
The RER is a separate train network to the Parisian Metro and will probably be the train you’ll take from the airport to your hotel. Do not confuse both since not all Metro tickets are valid on the RER: you can only use your Metro ticket on the RER if both lines connect. RER tickets are more expensive but they can also get you further away into the Parisian suburbs and closer to some attractions. Download Paris RER Map.
Parisian buses cover 59 different routes on special bus lanes that have made travelling across the city a lot faster than before. Buses run from 7 AM to 8:30 PM every day, with less frequencies during Sundays and holidays. Bus stops can be either glass-covered shelters or simply poles, but all of them display the number of the buses that stop there and their itineraries. An electronic display also let you know how long you’ll have to wait for the next bus to arrive. Download Paris Buses Map.
In order to get on the bus, you need to signal the driver to stop. In order to get off the bus, press the red “arrêt demandé” button to request a stop.
Despite being comparatively cheaper than in other countries, Parisian taxis aren’t that easy to find (and even more so on weekend evenings). You can recognize official taxis by their “Taxi Parisien” sign on their roofs. Inside, official taxis need to have a display meter showing the cost of the journey and the driver and taxi’s license in a visible spot.
Taking a taxi can also mean you’ll take longer to get to your destination due to Paris’ heavy traffic. There is a minimum €5,50 fare, so even if the meter reads less than that, you will have to pay that amount. Because of the sheer amount of one-way streets in the city, taxi drivers will seldom leave you at the doorstep of your destination but rather drop you off a block away. They also frown upon those who ride on the passenger seat and/or use their cell phones inside the car.
Taxi fares include the tip but you can tip 10% if you want to. Keep in mind that extra charges apply for baggage handling and carrying more than 4 passengers in the car. And please avoid taking a cab from the airport to your accommodation: you could be facing a very slow ride that will cost you over €70!
Paris offers bicycle rentals for those eco-conscious tourists who prefer to discover the city’s magic on two wheels. The city counts with an extensive bike lane network and drivers are used to having bicycles riding along them on the streets. However, avoid Champs-Elysées, Place de l’Étoile and Voie Georges Pompidou if you’re on a bicycle and value your life.
Even if you’re on a bicycle, make sure you follow traffic rules. Finding bikers in Paris is not uncommon and these fines tend to be quite hefty. Using a helmet is not compulsory but still highly recommended. Also note that bikes can’t be ties to street lamps or poles, so check if your bicycle comes with a good anti-theft device.
Created as yet another alternative to public transportation, various shuttle boats travel along the river Seine taking passengers to their destinations. The boats usually take a circular route from the Eiffel Tower, down past the Louvre, Notre Dame and botanical gardens to then return up the other bank past the Musee D’Orsay. You can easily purchase 1 and 3-day tickets and simply hop on and off as needed.
It is a very bad idea to rent a car in Paris: not only is traffic hell, but parking is very difficult and usually charged-for. However, if you still have your mind set on renting your own car, remember that driving is done on the right (road) in France, that both front and backseat seatbelts are mandatory and that sounding horns is strictly forbidden. If you’re renting a motorbike or scooter, remember that helmets are compulsory for both drivers and passengers. And, evidently, it is forbidden for cars to drive on bus lanes (although bicycles can).
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