Getting Around Paris
The Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) (tel: (08) 3668 4114 - information in English; website: www.ratp.fr), is an integrated,
five-zone system of bus, metro and trains that is both cheap and
efficient (except during strikes which are frequent). The 15 metro lines
extend into zones one and two in central Paris. Metros run 0530-0030,
lines are colour-coded and designated by numbers, although clearly
signposted with the names of the terminus station. The new line 14
metro Meteor runs from Madeleine to Bibliothèque François Mitterand and
is not marked on old maps. Free transport maps are available at metro
stations, bus terminals and the tourist office.
The RER (Reseau Express Regional) suburban express network has four lines (A, B, C and D) covering the five zones and running from 0500-0000. The system is linked by the metro network and some SNCF trains. The bus system
is easy to use; bus stops display the buses that stop there, a map
shows all the stops on the route and bus times. Most buses run Monday
to Saturday 0630-2030, some continue until 0030. Services are reduced
by about half on Sunday and bank holiday. Night buses (Noctambuses)
run on 10 routes, Monday to Saturday 0100-0530 hourly (reduced service
on Sunday) between the place du Chatelet by the Hotel de Ville and the
suburbs. (Click here to view a map of the RER map)
The same tickets are valid for bus, metro and RER (within zones one and two only) and can be purchased from stations and tabacs,
except for night buses which require separate tickets costing FFr15
each (which allows one change), or a weekly or monthly travel pass (see
below). One ticket is sufficient for a bus ride or an RER journey
(within zones one and two) or a metro journey (with changes (correspondances));
separate tickets are needed for changes between buses or between bus
and metro/RER. For RER journeys beyond zones one and two, RER tickets
must be purchased. Tickets should be validated on entry and kept until
the end of the journey to avoid on-the-spot fines. One ticket costs
FFr8; carnets of ten cost FFr55. Only single tickets (FFr8) can be
purchased from the bus driver but a pre-purchased carnet ticket or pass
can also be used.
A mobilis day pass costs FFr32 for central Paris and FFr110 for all five zones and airports. For stays exceeding three days, the Carte Orange with a weekly coupon (coupon hebdomodaire),
for sale at all metro stations, provides good value. At FFr82, it
allows a week's travel in zones one and two. There is also a monthly Carte Orange that costs FFr279 for zones one and two. The Carte Orange reusable ticket should be validated at the metro turnstile and displayed to the bus driver. Paris Visites
offer one-, two-, three- and five-day visitors' passes at FFr50, FFr80,
FFr120 and FFr170 respectively for Paris and its immediate suburbs, or
FFr100, FFr175, FFr245 and FFr300 to include transport to the airports,
Versailles and Disneyland Paris. There are reduced prices for children.
Paris Visites can be purchased at the airports, metro and RER stations and tourist offices.
Taxis can be hailed at airports, stations and at taxi ranks (arrêts taxis)
but are hard to find when most in demand - Friday and Saturday night. A
yellow light displayed on the roof shows that the taxi is available for
hire; an orange light shows the taxi is in use. A daytime journey in
central Paris tends to cost FFr40-FFr80 (tariff A). Journeys after
1900, on Sundays, bank holidays and in the suburbs are more expensive
(tariff B). The most expensive rate (tariff C) applies for the suburbs
and airports at night and districts outside Paris during the day. There
are additional charges for pick-up (about FFr13), pick-up at a mainline
station (FFr5), waiting time (about FFr135 an hour), a fourth passenger
(FFr10, but always ask the driver first) and for luggage (FFr6 per item
over 5kg). Tipping is not compulsory but drivers expect about ten per
cent. Taxi numbers are displayed at the taxi ranks and listed in the
yellow pages. These include Taxi Bleus (tel: (01) 4936 1010), Alpha Taxis (tel: (01) 4585 8585) and Taxi-Radio Etoile (tel: (01) 4127 2727).
Major providers are Paris France Limousines, 9-11 rue Benoît Malon, 92150 Suresnes (tel: (01) 4344 1272; fax: (06) 6039 8259); ExecutiveCar/Carey Limousine, 25 rue d'Astorg, 8th (tel: (01) 4265 5420; fax: (01) 4265 2593) and Elite Limousines, 47 rue de Chaillot, 16th (tel: (01) 4720 7020; fax: (01) 4720 7320). Expect to pay about FFr380 per hour with driver.
Driving in the City
in central Paris is not advised. Most hotels do not have garages,
parking is difficult (illegally parked cars are towed away) and traffic
jams (embouteillages) are frequent - while the average speed in
the metro is 27kph (17mph), the average road speed is 18kph (11mph).
Most legal parking spaces are marked 'payant'; coins of FFr1, FFr2 and FFr10 may be used for the pay-and-display parking machines (horodateurs).
Parking costs FFr10 an hour, for a maximum of two hours. Paris has
numerous underground and covered car parks in the city centre, costing
around 15FF per hour or FFr100 for periods of 12-24 hours. These
include the Arc de Triomphe, place de Concorde and near Forum des Halles.
Many municipal garages close at about 2300 and some are closed on
Sunday. The only good news is that parking is usually free on weekends
and on weekdays before 0900 and after 1900.
In addition to the major companies (see the Air section), local firms include: ADA with numerous branches, the main office being 271 boulevard Pereire, 17th (tel: (01) 4572 3636), Dergi, 133 bis rue de Paris, 20th (tel: (01) 4368 5555), Locabest, 3 rue Abel, 12th (tel: (01) 4346 0505), and Rent A Car,
9 rue de Bercy, 12th (tel: (01) 4345 1515). The minimum age for car
hire varies from 21-25 years, drivers must have held a national driving
licence for at least one year. It is usually requested that the hire is
paid for with the driver's credit card.
Bicycle & Scooter Hire
The Mairie de Paris embarked on a scheme to introduce cycle lanes in 1996, which now total 100km (62 miles), a leaflet, Paris à Velo, is available from tourist offices and cycle shops. Bicycle hire companies include Bike'N Roller, 6 rue St-Julien le Pauvre, 5th (tel: (01) 4407 3589), Maison du Velo, 11 rue Fenelon, 10th (tel: (01) 4281 2472), Paris à velo c'est sympa, 37 boulevard Bourdon, 4th (tel: (01) 4887 6001) and Paris Velo, 2 rue du Fer-à-Moulin, 5th (tel: (01) 4337 5922). Scooters and motor bikes can be hired from Atelier de la Compagnie, 57 boulevard de Grenelle, 15th (tel: (01) 4579 7724). Bicycle hire costs about FFr80-120 per day.