Practical Life in Paris


Transport in Paris


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Paris offers an extensive transportation network within the city and spreading out to the rest of the country. There is a system of buses, trams, Métro, trains, roadways and planes.

Underground

Paris's underground transport system, commonly known as the métro, is the second busiest in Europe with 16 lines and over 300 stations. It carries 4.5 million passengers a day, and an annual total of 1.5 billion. Connections are excellent with many of the lines connecting to the surrounding suburbs and a loop running around the city. The public transit authority of Paris (RATP) monitors the system.

Navigation

Lines are identified on maps by number and colour. Direction of travel is indicated by the destination terminus. Determine the closest "M" stop and which line or lines will get you there. Lines have numbers, but are usually referred to by their end-of-the-line stops. Blue and white signs indicate where to go within the station.

Transportation maps are available at most stations, and online.

Hours

General service begins at 5:30 with the last train (often called the "balai" or broom) arriving at the terminal station at 1:15. Extended service is available on Fridays, Saturdays and on nights before a holiday until 2:15. On special occasions (New Year's Eve, Fête de la Musique) some stations of lines remain open all night long.

Rush hour generally takes place from 8:00-10:00 and 17:00-20:00 Monday to Friday. Metro lines 1, 2, 4, 11, 12, and 13 tend to be the most cramped. Trains are generally crowded and it may be advisable to find alternative transportation.

The timetable can be found here.

Tickets

Fares are sold at kiosks and automated machines in the station with instructions in French, English and German. They can also be purchased through selected retailers. Tickets need to be purchased before entering the platform by automated gate. Tickets should be retained for the duration of the journey as they could be demanded for inspection at any point of the journey.

Standard tickets (t+) - valid for a multi-transfer journey within one and a half hours from the first validation. It can be used on the whole Métro network (subway, buses, trams and in zone 1 of the RER).

  • 1 ticket - €1.70
  • Book of 10 t+ tickets (standard fare) - €13.30
  • Book of 10 t+ tickets (reduced fare) - €6.65
  • Single-use ticket purchased onboard buses - €2

Paris Visite - Unlimited travel card available for one, two, three or five days, for either zones 1–3 covering the centre of Paris, or zones 1–5 covering the whole of the network including the RER out to the airports, Versailles and Disneyland Paris. The "Paris Centre" version covers transportation in zones 1-3.
Children from 4 to 11 pay half-price (kids 4 and under are free), and Paris Visite offers discounts on boat cruises and certain other tourist attractions.

  • 1 day - €22.20
  • 2 day - €33.70
  • 3 day - €47.25
  • 5 day - €57.75

Carnet - A packet of ten t+ tickets are available for a discount price of €12. These can be purchased in the métro and train stations (mainly automatic machines) and in Tabacs showing a RATP sticker or sign. Ask for "un billet" or "un carnet, s'il vous plait."

Navigo Découverte - Valid Monday-Sunday, the electronic Navigo offers you to store value on a pass. It requires a photo and the purchase of a one-time card for €5. These cards can only be used by one person. Credit can be reloaded with fares for up to 10 years.

Mobilis - This pass is good for one calendar day. The price depends on the zones where you intend to travel; if you plan to stay within the city, a Zone 1 pass is all you need.

  • Zone 1 to 2 - €6.60
  • Zone 1 to 3 - €8.80
  • Zone 1 to 4 - €10.85
  • Zone 1 to 5 - €15.65

Bus

Paris's bus lines are extensive and well-developed. It connects all points of the city. The RATP operates the majority of buses within the city. Suburban lines are operated by private operators grouped in a consortium known as Optile (Organisation professionnelle des transports d'Île-de-France).

Long Distance

There is no national bus network in France as train travel is encouraged. Buses are used primarily for discount and regional travel. The primary providers are Eurolines and Busabout

Tickets

Fares are sold at kiosks and automated machines in the station (but not sold on buses - however it is possible to buy a single ticket for €1.90 onboard, called ticket d'accès à bord). They are the same as the ones used for the underground Métro system (see more explanation in the previous section above).

Trams

Paris was once marked by tramways, but most were shut down by 1957. Recently, new lines have been put in with four tram lines currently in operation in the outskirt.

Métro, Bus & Tram: http://www.ratp.fr

Train

Suburban trains

The RER (réseau express régional) is a network of regional trains in France. It has 5 express train lines connecting Paris's city centre to surrounding suburbs (named with letters: A, B, C, D, E).

Long distance trains

The SNCF's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) network offers quick connections such as a 3 hour ride between Marseille and Paris. The Eurostar connects Paris to central London in 2 hours and 20 minutes and the Thalys goes to Brussels in 1h22 and Amsterdam in 3h18 .

Tickets

Fares are determined station to station with two different types of tickets depending on which part of the RER network you will be traveling. Travel beyond Paris Zone 1 requires a special ticket: a Billet Ile-de-France.

Tickets are purchased from SNCF/Transilien/RATP ticket windows and ticket vending machines. They can also be purchased at large train stations (Gare de Lyon, Gare du Nord), and at RER and Metro stations. Note that certain ticket windows may only sell a certain type of ticket so be sure you are in the correct line.

Suburban trains: http://www.transilien.com
National and International Trains:
http://www.voyages-sncf.com

Ferry/Boat

Boat tours of Paris is a popular tourist attraction. The Seine is a defining feature of the city and a tour can offer a unique view of Paris in a romantic setting.

    Tour Operators:
  • Bateaux Mouches - Paris's most famous boat tour company , the boats can be recognizable by large decks and bright orange seats.
  • Bateaux Parisiens - Narrated tours and fine dining can be found on this tour.
  • Canauxrama - Cruises of the Canal Saint Martin with commentary.
  • Paris Canal - Half-day cruises on the Seine and the Canal. Sights include the Musée d’Orsay, The Louvre, and underground waterways. Tours are available in English.

Plane

Paris is served by three international airports. Charles de Gaulle International Airport is a major airport within continental Europe and not only an entry point for the city, but the continent.

Charles de Gaulle International Airport (ICAO: LFPG, IATA: CDG)

Charles de Gaulle Airport is the major hub is in the north-east of the city.

    There are three terminals:
  • Terminal 1
  • Terminal 2 (subdivided into 2A through 2G)
  • Terminal 3 (formerly T9)
Terminal 2G is a separate building and is reachable via navette/bus in 10-15 min (bus leaves every 20 minutes).

Transport to/from Airport
Trains: RER commuter train, line B, has stations in Terminal 2 and 3. From here you can take the free shuttle train between the terminals. Trains to Paris leave every 15 minutes, for a duration of about 30 minutes. The RER stops at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire. The trains run from 5:00-12:15. Tickets are €8.40. Step-by-step instructions for transport by train.
Shuttle: Air France operates a shuttle, Cars Air France. Shuttles leave terminal 2 every 15 minutes. Service runs from 5:45 to 23:15. Tickets are between €13-14.
Coach: Roissybus is an express bus service that departs every 15 minutes from 5:45 - 20:00 (service ever 20 minutes to 22:00; every 30 minutes till 23:00). The bus takes about an hour and stops at the metro station Opera in the 9th arrondissement. Ticket costs €10 one way.
Bus: The 350 and the 351 buses connect central Paris with CDG. The 350 stops at Gare de l’Est, and the 351 at the Nation stop. At the airport, both buses stop at Terminal 2. The journey is about 45-60 minutes, and it will take three of the regular Paris Metro tickets to make the trip all the way from Paris to the airport (or vice versa). Beware of delays for traffic.
Drive: Passengers may travel by the A1 (Porte de la Chapelle) or the A3 (Porte de Bagnolet). Signs direct drivers to Paris Centre.The circular peripherique takes you east or west (the landmarks like the Champs Elysees or Arc de Triomphe will be most quickly reached by heading west and getting off at exit Port Maillot). Porte de la Chapelle and Porte de Bagnolet led to the northern part of Paris and Montmartre. The airport has a site that maps the quickest route to your destination.
Taxi: Taxis can be located outside terminal 1 and 2 at Charles de Gaulle. Fares are generally around €45. Detailed information on fares.

Orly International Airport (ICAO: LFPO, IATA: ORY)

Located southwest of the city, Orly International Airport is an older international airport used mainly by Air France for domestic departures, and international departures by European carriers. It has two terminals – Orly Sud (south) and Orly Ouest (west).It is roughly 40 min from Paris.

Transport to/from Airport
Trains: The RER B (suburban train) connects Orly airport via the Orlyval airport train. Signs indicate Orly Ouest or Orly Sud to "Orlyval", then from the Antony train station connecting to the RER B in the direction of Paris. If need be, you can then connect to the Paris metro at stations Denfert Rochereau, Saint-Michel, Chatelet-less-Halles, or Gare du Nord. Trains depart about every 10 minutes from 6:00 to 23:00. Tickets cost €9.60.
Shuttle: The Orlybus is a direct bus run by the RATP connecting Orly to Denfert Rochereau in southern Paris. It departs every 15 minutes, starting at 6:00 to 23:30 (til 0.30 Fridays, Saturdays and the day before public holidays). The duration is about 25 minutes. Tickets cost €7 one way .
Bus: Bus 285 departs the airport to Métro Villejuif - Louis Aragon (Line 7) every 15 min. It costs €1.90.
Light Rail: The Orlyval light rail connects the terminals and to the RER B line at Antony. It runs every 4-7 minutes and cost €10.90 one way.
Drive: The airport has a site that maps the quickest route to your destination.
Taxi: Taxis can be found just outside of the terminal. The average cost is €35.

Le Bourget

Located only 13 kilometers north of Paris this is a small airport (the oldest, opened in 1919) used for business jets. This is the most important business-only airport in Europe.

Taxi

Taxis are easily available on the street, as well as outside of tourist areas, transport hubs, or hotels. Taxi stands are marked by blue signs with the word TAXI written in white. They are generally located on street corners, outside railway stations and official buildings, and at airports. Be prepared to pay in cash as credit cards may not be accepted.

A taxi is available if the lighted sign, "Taxi Parisien", on the roof is lit.

Fares & Tipping

Fares are standard and dictated by meter, but increase outside of normal daytime hours (7:00 to 19:00; or all day Sundays and holidays). A third rate is charged at night in the suburbs, and during the day for one-way trips to the departments Haut de Seine, Seine St. Denis, and Val de Marne. If you telephone for a taxi, you will be charged for the trip to your location. Additional charges are assessed for picking up passengers at airports or train stations, for a fourth person, for luggage, and for domestic animals. A tip is included in the fare price, but you may leave an additional 10 percent for good service.

  • Fares start at €2.20
  • Minimum fare is €5.60
  • Additional kilometers from €0.86-1.35, depending on city zone and time of day.

Taxi Firms

  • TAXIS G7 - 01 47 39 47 39
  • TAXIS BLEUS - 0 891 70 10 10 (0.22 euro/mn); Airport Taxi : 0 825 16 66 66 (0.15 euro/mn)
  • ALPHA TAXIS - 01 45 85 85 85

Car Hire

Car rental can allow visitors to see the hidden parts of France, but may not be the best option for Paris. The city provides excellent public transportation and is not a car-friendly place. If you do choose to rent, agencies can easily be arranged online or at points of entry. Several major car rental dealers are located at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, as well as major train stations.

Expect to pay about €40-60 per day. Drivers must be at least 18 (although car rental companies may require drivers to be 25). European Union and Canadian nationals can use their drivers's license alone. All other drivers should apply for the International Drivers License (IDL). This is basically an official translation of your current valid driver's license and the two must always be carried together.

Driving Conditions

Driving within Paris can be a frustrating experience. Roads are inter tangled and traffic can make movement impossible. Parking is another issue, with few spaces near tourist attractions. Consequently, the majority of Parisian households do not own cars. Driving outside of Paris can be a much more enjoyable experience and facilitate trips to outlying attractions such as Vaux-le-Vicomte castle, Normandy, etc.

Traffic rules in Paris are basically the same as elsewhere in France, with the exception of having to yield to incoming traffic on roundabouts.

The French drive on the right and priority is given to cars coming from the right. Safety belts are required for all passengers and children under ten must ride in the back seat. In roundabouts, cars already inside have the priority. However - this is not always followed so make sure to watch the other lanes. Minor roads (marked in yellow on the Michelin road maps) are maintained by the Départements rather than by the Government and are classed as 'D' roads.

    Speed Limits
  • In towns and urban areas: 50km/h (30mph)
  • On main roads: 90km/h (56mph) or 80 km/h in rain or fog
  • On motorways: 130km/h (80mph) or 110km/h in rain or fog

Driving Licenses

The minimum driving age is 18 (16 with parental supervision). Always carry your driver's license and passport while driving.

Roadways

Major roads are designated as Routes Nationales (RN). The smallest roads are the Routes Départmental (RD). Motorways bear the prefix 'A' and national roads 'N'.

Paris has several beltway systems named after Napoleonic-era generals like Boulevard Masséna, they are collectively referred to as boulevard des maréchaux. The boulevard périphérique is a freeway-style beltway; Périphérique intérieur are the inner lanes which move in a clockwise direction; Périphérique extérieur are the outer lanes which move in a counter-clockwise direction.

There are five major motorways in Ile-de-France (less autoroutes):

  • A1 (north network)
  • A4 (east)
  • A10 (west and southwest)
  • A6 (southeast)
  • A13 (to Normandy)

Tolls

Tolls, or péages, are frequent in France but are not present surrounding Paris. Take a ticket on entering, and produce it later for payment according to the distance traveled. They may be paid with coins or credit cards. Toll roads can be identified by a blue sign. Non toll motorways can be identified by a green sign.

Parking

Issues with parking and frequent ticketing are infamous in Paris. Double-parking, no-stopping zones and areas reserved for deliveries (livraisons) make parking in Paris very difficult.

Street parking in Paris is limited to 2 hours. The coin-operated parking meters have been replaced by cards (cartes de stationnements) which you can purchase at tabacs. Parking is free on Sundays, public holidays, after 19:00. Parking garages (parc or parking) can be found throughout the city, and cost from €1-3/hour.

Cycling

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Paris. There are over 440 km of cycling routes in the city. Routes are detailed in guides such as Paris de Poche: Cycliste et Piéton. Paris Respire (literally "Paris breathe") is a car-free scheme where certain roads are closed to vehicular traffic on Sundays and public holidays between the hours of 9:00 and 17:00 and travel by bike is encouraged.

The Vélib bike hire scheme has over 20,000 bicycles and is the second largest program in the world. A credit card or debit card with PIN is required to sign up for the program. Subscriptions can be purchased at €1.70 per day, €8/week or €29/year. With a subscription, bike rental is free for the first half hour of every individual trip. A trip that lasts longer than 30 minutes incurs a charge of €1 to €4 for each subsequent 30-minute period. The increasing price scale is intended to keep the bikes in circulation.

Road Map: http://www.viamichelin.fr


Update 13/02/2013


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