Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. Situated on the Seine River, in the north of the country, it is in the centre of the Île-de-France region, also known as the région parisienne, "Paris Region". The City of Paris has an area of 105 km² (41 mi²) and a population of 2,241,346.
Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic people called the Parisii, who gave the city its name.
For centuries, Paris has attracted artists from around the world, who arrive in the city to educate themselves and to seek inspiration from its vast pool of artistic resources and galleries. As a result, Paris has acquired a reputation as the "City of Art"
Paris is the home of the most visited art museum in the world, the Louvre, as well as the Musée d'Orsay, noted for its collection of French Impressionist art, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, a museum of modern and contemporary art. The notable architectural landmarks of Paris include Notre Dame Cathedral (12th century); the Sainte-Chapelle (13th century); the Eiffel Tower (1889); and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre (1914).
In 2014 Paris received 22.4 million visitors, making it one of the world's top tourist destinations. Paris is also known for its fashion, particularly the twice-yearly Paris Fashion Week, and for its haute cuisine, and three-star restaurants. Most of France's major universities and grandes écoles are located in Paris, as are France's major newspapers, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération.
|POPULATION :||City: 2,240,621 / Metro: 12,341,418|
|TIME ZONE :||CET (UTC +1)|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 62%, Muslims 7%, Others 6%, Unaffiliated 25%|
|AREA :||105.4 km2 (40.7 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||48°51′24″N 2°21′03″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.40% |
• Female: 51.60%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||75056 / 75001-75020, 75116|
|DIALING CODE :||+33 1|
Paris, the cosmopolitan capital of France, is one of the largest agglomerations in Europe, with 2.2 million people living in the dense (105 km²) central city and almost 12 million people living in the metropolitan area. In the north of the country on the river Seine, Paris has the reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with historic associations and remaining vastly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food and design. Dubbed the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it is home to some of the world's finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent,Guerlain, Lancôme, L'Oréal, and Clarins.
Grand Paris (the City plus three surrounding departments) received 22.2 million visitors in 2015 measured by hotel stays, a decrease of 1.1 percent from 2014, due to two series of deadly terrorist attacks. The largest numbers of foreign tourists in 2015, measured by airport arrivals, came from the United States (1.8 million, down by 3.6 percent from 2014); the U.K. (1.08 million), Germany (725,000; ) Italy (622,000), and Spain (609,000). Arrivals from Russia (211,000) dropped 37 percent from 2014. Arrivals from the rest of the Europe numbered 1 million, down 4.9 percent from 2014. 746,00 Visitors came from China, an increase of 40 percent from 2015; 481,000 came from Japan, a drop of 23 percent from 2015. Arrivals from the Near and Middle East numbered 535,000 an increase of 0.7 percent. Arrivals from the Americas outside the U.S. numbered 910,000; down 4.9 percent from 2014; 395,000 arrived from Africa, up 6.5 percent from 2014; and 1,065,000 from Asia and Oceania excluding China and Japan, an increase of 14.6 percent over 2014.
In 2015, measured by the MasterCard Global Cities Destination Index, Paris was the third busiest airline destination in the world, with 16.06 million visitors, behind London (18.8 million) and Bangkok (18.24 million). According to the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, 393,008 workers in Grand Paris, or 12.4 percent of the total work force, are engaged in tourism-related sectors; hotels, catering, transport and leisure.
There were 74.7 million visitors to the city's museums and monuments in 2015, a drop of 7.2 percent from 2104 due to highly publicized terrorist attacks. The city's top tourist attraction was the Notre Dame Cathedral, which welcomed 13.6 million visitors in 2015. The Louvre museum had 8.4 million visitors in 2015, making it the most visited museum in the world. The other top cultural attractions in Paris in 2015 were the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (10 million visitors); the Eiffel Tower (6.917,000 visitors); the Centre Pompidou (3,060,000 visitors) and Musée d'Orsay (3,439,000 visitors). In the Paris region, Disneyland Paris, in Marne-la-Vallée, 32 kilometres (20 miles) east of the centre of Paris, was the most visited tourist attraction in France, with 14.8 million visitors in 2015.
The centre of Paris contains the most visited monuments in the city, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre as well as the Sainte-Chapelle; Les Invalides, where the tomb of Napoleon is located, and the Eiffel Tower are located on the Left Bank south-west of the centre. The banks of the Seine from the Pont de Sully to the Pont d'Iéna have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sitesince 1991. Other landmarks are laid out east to west along the historic axis of Paris, which runs from the Louvre through the Tuileries Garden, the Luxor Column in the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, to the Grande Arche of La Défense.
Several other much-visited landmarks are located in the suburbs of the city; the Basilica of St Denis, in Seine-Saint-Denis, is the birthplace of the Gothic style of architecture and the royal necropolis of French kings and queens. The Paris region hosts three other UNESCO Heritage sites: the Palace of Versailles in the west, the Palace of Fontainebleau in the south and the medieval fairs site of Provins in the east.
As of 2013 the City of Paris had 1,570 hotels with 70,034 rooms, of which 55 were rated five-star, mostly belonging to international chains and mostly located close to the centre and the Champs-Élysées. Paris has long been famous for its grand hotels. The Hotel Meurice, opened for British travellers in 1817, was one of the first luxury hotels in Paris. The arrival of the railways and the Paris Exposition of 1855 brought the first flood of tourists and the first modern grand hotels; the Hôtel du Louvre (now an antiques marketplace) in 1855; the Grand Hotel (now the Intercontinental LeGrand) in 1862; and the Hôtel Continental in 1878. The Hôtel Ritz on Place Vendôme opened in 1898, followed by the Hôtel Crillon in an 18th-century building on the Place de la Concorde in 1909; the Hotel Bristol on rue de Fabourg Saint-Honoré in 1925; and the Hotel George V in 1928.
The name "Paris" is derived from its early inhabitants, the Celtic Parisii tribe.
Paris is often referred to as "The City of Light" because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment, and more literally because Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt gas street lighting. In the 1860s, the boulevards and streets of Paris were illuminated by 56,000 gas lamps.
The Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, inhabited the Paris area from around the middle of the 3rd century BC.
The Romans conquered the Paris basin in 52 BC and, after making the island a garrison camp, began extending their settlement in a more permanent way to Paris's Left Bank.
By the end of the Western Roman Empire, the town was known simply as Parisius in Latin and Paris in French. Christianity was introduced in the middle of the 3rd century AD. According to tradition, it was brought by Saint Denis, the first Bishop of Paris. When he refused to renounce his faith, he was beheaded on the hill which became known as the "Mountain of Martyrs" eventually "Montmartre". His burial place became an important religious shrine; the Basilica of Saint-Denis was built there and became the burial place of the French Kings.
By the end of the 12th century, Paris had become the political, economic, religious, and cultural capital of France.In 1163, during the reign of Louis VII, Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris, undertook the construction of the Notre Dame Cathedral at its eastern extremity. The Left Bank was the site of the University of Paris, a corporation of students and teachers formed in the mid-12th century to train scholars first in theology, and later in canon law, medicine and the arts.The Right Bank became the centre of commerce and finance. The merchants who controlled the trade on the river formed a league and quickly became a powerful force. Between 1190 and 1202, Philip Augustus built the massive fortress of the Louvre, continued the construction of Notre Dame, rebuilt the two bridges, began paving Paris's main thoroughfares, and the construction of a fortified wall around the city.
In the summer of 1789, Paris became the centre stage of the French Revolution. On 14 July, a mob seized the arsenal at the Invalides, acquiring thousands of guns, and stormed the Bastille, a symbol of royal authority. The first independent Paris Commune, or city council, met in the Hôtel de Ville and, on 15 July, elected a Mayor, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly.A succession of revolutionary factions ruled Paris until 9 November 1799 , when Napoléon Bonaparte seized power as First Consul.
By 1901, the population of Paris had grown to 2,715,000. At the beginning of the century, artists from around the world, including Picasso, Modigliani and Matisse made Paris their home; it was the birthplace of Fauvism, Cubism and abstract art, and authors such as Marcel Proust were exploring new approaches to literature.
During the First World War, Paris sometimes found itself on the front line; 600 to 1,000 Paris taxis played a small but highly important symbolic role in transporting 6,000 soldiers to the front line at the First Battle of the Marne. The city was also bombed by Zeppelins and shelled by German long-range guns. In the years after the war, known as Les Années Folles, Paris continued to be a mecca for writers, musicians and artists from around the world, including Ernest Hemingway, Igor Stravinsky, James Joyce, Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet and the surrealist Salvador Dalí.
On 14 June 1940, the German army marched into Paris, which had been declared an "open city".On 25 August 1944, the city was liberated by the French 2nd Armoured Division and the 4th Infantry Division of the United States Army. General Charles de Gaulle led a huge and emotional crowd down the Champs Élysées towards Notre Dame de Paris, and made a rousing speech from the Hôtel de Ville.
Paris has a typical Western European oceanic climate.
The overall climate throughout the year is mild and moderately wet.
Summer days are usually warm and pleasant with average temperatures hovering between 15 and 25 °C (59 and 77 °F), and a fair amount of sunshine.
Spring and autumn have, on average, mild days and fresh nights but are changing and unstable. Surprisingly warm or cool weather occurs frequently in both seasons.
In winter, sunshine is scarce; days are cold but generally above freezing with temperatures around 7 °C (45 °F).
Climate data for Paris
|Record high °C (°F)||16.1|
|Average high °C (°F)||7.2|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.0|
|Average low °C (°F)||2.7|
|Record low °C (°F)||−14.6|
|Source: Meteo France|
Paris is located in northern central France. By road it is 450 kilometres (280 mi) south-east of London, 287 kilometres (178 mi) south of Calais, 305 kilometres (190 mi) south-west of Brussels, 774 kilometres (481 mi) north of Marseille, 385 kilometres (239 mi) north-east of Nantes, and 135 kilometres (84 mi) south-east of Rouen.
Paris is located in the north-bending arc of the river Seine and includes two islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité, which form the oldest part of the city. The river's mouth on the English Channel (La Manche) is about 233 mi (375 km) downstream of the city, established around 7600 BC. The city is spread widely on both banks of the river.
Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest point is 35 m (115 ft) above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, the highest of which is Montmartre at 130 m (427 ft).
The economy of the City of Paris is today is based largely on services and commerce; of the 390,480 enterprises in the city, 80.6 percent are engaged in commerce, transportation, and diverse services, 6.5 percent in construction, and just 3.8 percent in industry. The story is similar in the Paris Region, or Île-de-France. 76.7 percent of enterprises are engaged in commerce and services, and 3.4 percent in industry.
At the 2012 census, 59.5% of jobs in the Paris Region were in market services (12.0% in wholesale and retail trade, 9.7% in professional, scientific, and technical services, 6.5% in information and communication, 6.5% in transportation and warehousing, 5.9% in finance and insurance, 5.8% in administrative and support services, 4.6% in accommodation and food services, and 8.5% in various other market services), 26.9% in non-market services (10.4% in human health and social work activities, 9.6% in public administration and defence, and 6.9% in education), 8.2% in manufacturing and utilities (6.6% in manufacturing and 1.5% in utilities), 5.2% in construction, and 0.2% in agriculture.
The Paris Region had 5.4 million salaried employees in 2010, of whom 2.2 million were concentrated in 39 pôles d'emplois or business districts. The largest of these, in terms of number of employees, is known in French as the QCA, or quartier central des affaires; it is in the western part of the City of Paris, in the 2nd, 8th, 9th, 16th and 18th arrondissements. In 2010 it was the workplace of 500,000 salaried employees, about thirty percent of the salaried employees in Paris and ten percent of those in the Île-de-France. The largest sectors of activity in the central business district were finance and insurance (16 percent of employees in the district) and business services (15 percent). The district also includes a large concentration of department stores, shopping areas, hotels and restaurants, as well a government offices and ministries.
The second-largest business district in terms of employment is La Défense, just west of the city, where many companies installed their offices in the 1990s. In 2010 it was the workplace of 144,600 employees, of whom 38 percent worked in finance and insurance, 16 percent in business support services. Two other important districts, Neuilly-sur-Seine and Levallois-Perret, are extensions of the Paris business district and of La Defense. Another district, including Boulogne-Billancourt, Issy-les-Moulineaux and the southern part of the 15th arrondissement, is a center of activity for the media and information technology.
The top ten French companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 for 2015 all have their headquarters in the Paris Region; six in the central business district of the City of Paris; and four close to the City in the Hauts-de-Seine Department, three in La Defense and one in Boulogne-Billancourt. Some companies, like Société Générale, have offices in both Paris and La Défense.
The Paris Region is France's leading region for economic activity, with a 2012 GDP of €624 billion (US$687 billion). In 2011, its GDP ranked second among the regions of Europe and its per-capita GDP was the 4th highest in Europe. While the Paris region's population accounted for 18.8 percent of metropolitan France in 2011, the Paris region's GDP accounted for 30 percent of metropolitan France's GDP. In 2015 it hosts the world headquarters of 29 of the 31 Fortune Global 500 companies located in France.
The Paris Region economy has gradually shifted from industry to high-value-added service industries (finance, IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, etc.). The Paris region's most intense economic activity through the central Hauts-de-Seine department and suburban La Défense business district places Paris' economic centre to the west of the city, in a triangle between the Opéra Garnier, La Défense and the Val de Seine. While the Paris economy is dominated by services, and employment in manufacturing sector has declined sharply, the region remains an important manufacturing centre, particularly for aeronautics, automobiles, and "eco" industries.
In a 2015 worldwide cost of living survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Paris ranked as the world's second most expensive city. In the survey, it is joined among the most expensive European cities by Oslo, Zürich, Geneva and Copenhagen. The ranking compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, and is designed to calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers.
According to 2012 INSEE figures, 68 percent of employees in the City of Paris work in commerce, transportation, and services; 24.4 percent in public administration, health and social services; 4.4 percent in industry, and 0.1 percent in agriculture.
The majority of Paris' salaried employees fill 370,000 businesses services jobs, concentrated in the north-western 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissements. Paris' financial service companies are concentrated in the central-western 8th and 9th arrondissement banking and insurance district. Paris' department store district in the 1st, 6th, 8th and 9th arrondissements employ 10 percent of mostly female Paris workers, with 100,000 of these registered in the retail trade. Fourteen percent of Parisians work in hotels and restaurants and other services to individuals. Nineteen percent of Paris employees work for the State in either in administration or education. The majority of Paris' healthcare and social workers work at the hospitals and social housing concentrated in the peripheral 13th, 14th, 18th, 19th and 20th arrondissements. Outside Paris, the western Hauts-de-Seine department La Défense district specialising in finance, insurance and scientific research district, employs 144,600, and the north-eastern Seine-Saint-Denis audiovisual sector has 200 media firms and 10 major film studios.
Paris' manufacturing is mostly focused in its suburbs, and the city itself has only around 75,000 manufacturing workers, most of which are in the textile, clothing, leather goods and shoe trades. Paris region manufacturing specialises in transportation, mainly automobiles, aircraft and trains, but this is in a sharp decline: Paris proper manufacturing jobs dropped by 64 percent between 1990 and 2010, and the Paris region lost 48 percent during the same period. Most of this is due to companies relocating outside the Paris region. The Paris region's 800 aerospace companies employed 100,000. Four hundred automobile industry companies employ another 100,000 workers: many of these are centred in the Yvelines department around the Renault and PSA-Citroen plants (this department alone employs 33,000), but the industry as a whole suffered a major loss with the 2014 closing of a major Aulnay-sous-Bois Citroen assembly plant.
The southern Essonne department specialises in science and technology, and the south-eastern Val-de-Marne, with its wholesale Rungis food market, specialises in food processing and beverages. The Paris region's manufacturing decline is quickly being replaced by eco-industries: these employ about 100,000 workers. In 2011, while only 56,927 construction workers worked in Paris itself, its metropolitan area employed 246,639, in an activity centred largely around the Seine-Saint-Denis (41,378) and Hauts-de-Seine(37,303) departments and the new business-park centres appearing there.
The average net household income (after social, pension and health insurance contributions) in Paris was €36,085 for 2011. It ranged from €22,095 in the 19th arrondissement to €82,449 in the 7th arrondissement. The median taxable income for 2011 was around €25,000 in Paris and €22,200 for Île-de-France. Generally speaking, incomes are higher in the Western part of the city and in the western suburbs than in the northern and eastern parts of the urban area. Unemployment was estimated at 8.2 percent in the city of Paris and 8.8 percent in the Île-de-France region in the first trimester of 2015. It ranged from 7.6 percent in the wealthy Essonne department to 13.1 percent in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, where many recent immigrants live.
While Paris has some of the richest neighbourhoods in France, it also has some of the poorest, mostly on the eastern side of the city. In 2012, 14 percent of households in the city earned less than €977 per month, the official poverty line. Twenty-five percent of residents in the 19th arrondissement lived below the poverty line; 24 percent in the 18th, 22 percent in the 20th and 18 percent in the 10th. In the city's wealthiest neighbourhood, the 7th arrondissement, 7 percent lived below the poverty line; 8 percent in the 6th arrondissement; and 9 percent in the 16th arrondissement.
The city of Paris itself is officially divided into 20 districts called arrondissements, numbered from 1 to 20 in a clockwise spiral from the centre of the city (which is known as Kilomètre Zéro and is located at the front of Notre Dame).Arrondissements are named according to their number. You might, for example, stay in the "5th", which would be written as 5e in French. The 12th and 16th arrondissements include large suburban parks, the Bois de Vincennes, and theBois de Boulogne respectively.
The very best map you can get for Paris is called "Paris Pratique par Arrondissement" which you can buy for about €5 at any news stand. It makes navigating the city easy. The various tourist information centres and hotels in Paris also provide various city and metro maps for free and which contain all the essential details for a tourist.
Each arrondissement has its own unique character and selection of attractions for the traveller:
Beyond central Paris, the outlying suburbs are called La Banlieue. Schematically, those on the west of Paris (Neuilly-sur-Seine, Boulogne-Billancourt, Saint Cloud,Levallois) are wealthy residential communities. Those to the northeast are poorer communities, much populated by immigrants.
One helpful thing about having official and numbered districts in Paris is that you can easily tell which arrondissement an address is in by its postal code, and can easily come up with the postal code for a Paris address if you know its arrondissement. The rule is just pre-pend 750 or 7500 to the front of the arrondissement number, with 75001 being the postal code for the 1st and 75011 being the postal code for the 11th, and so on. The 16th has two postal codes, 75016 for the portion south of Rue de Passy and 75116 to the north; all other arrondissements only have one postal code.
Phone cards are available from most "tabacs" but make sure you know where you can use them when you buy them, as some places still sell the cartes cabineswhich are hard to use as cabines are rare.
The city of Paris provides free Internet access via 400 Wi-Fi access points throughout the city, including many public parks. Look for the network called "PARIS_WI-FI_" (followed by some digits) on your laptop or PDA.
Other options include Starbucks, which is free. There is also McDonald's, Columbus Café, and certain Indiana Café locations. There is also the Wistro network which independent coffee chains offer. You can search by arrondissement. In general, a large number of cafés and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi.
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.80|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€7.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€35.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€50.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€75.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€8.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€5.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€6.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€12.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€24.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.16|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€7.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€2.50|
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€85.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€38.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€88.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.75|
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Paris is served by two international airports - for more information, including arrival/departure times, check the official sites.
CDG is the main airport of the city. It is located north of Paris and is connected by train, bus and taxi.
Transit Summary: The RER train line "B" connects CDG airport to central Paris and is the fastest and most economical option for most travelers. Signs in the airport will direct you to the platform. Self-serve electronic kiosques sell tickets. The kiosques provide service in multiple languages, including English. Some trains will stop at each station along the way to Paris. Express trains with fewer stops are available during off-peak hours. The stations Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire are always served. Your ticket will allow you to transfer at one of the aforementioned stations to the Metro and other RER lines within Paris to complete your journey. The one-way trip costs €10 (July 2015).
If you want to take RER B to catch an early flight, make sure you bring enough change, because you can only buy tickets at the coins-only machines before the counter opens.
If you arrive to CDG Airport at night you'll need a Noctilien bus to get to the city centre. The bus stops at all three terminals (in terminal 2F it will be the second level in the departure section, difficult to find, but it really exists). The bus leaves every 30 min after 12:30 (see timetable [www]). The buses you'll need are N140 and N143; the price is 4 T+ tickets (€8 if bought on board).
Orly IATA: ORY, this older international airport is southwest of the city and is used mainly by Air France for domestic departures, and international departures by European carriers. It consists of two terminals: Terminal Sud (south) and Terminal Ouest (west) connected by light rail. The airport is connected with Paris by bus and light rail. For detailed information on arriving and departing Paris from this airport please consult the main article linked above.
Orly is roughly 40 min from Paris via the OrlyBus, which departs from Métro Denfert-Rochereau (line 6); the price is €7.70 (2015). There are buses every 10-15 minutes from the Orly Sud (Platform 4) and it stops at Orly Ouest on its way to the city. Tickets can be bought at a counter near the baggage claim area or directly at the counter in Platform 4. The tickets need to be validated once on the bus. Another option is tramway T7 that takes you to the Métro Villejuif - Louis Aragon (Metro 7) in 30 min, but it stops on the way and is designed for commuters and not for travellers. Tramway T7 costs a single T+ (metro/bus/tram) ticket (€2 if bought on board the bus) and runs every 10 min, stopping at airport level -1. Passes covering zones 1-4 are accepted, excepted the day pass "Mobilis" on the Orlybus.
Via rail the airport can be reached by a southern branch of the RER-B line that heads from Paris in the direction of Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse (not Robinson). AtAntony station RER-B line connects with the Orlyval light rail that carries passengers to both terminals of the airport. Orlyval runs every 4-7 min and costs €12.05 (2015) for transfer to Paris, including connections to central area metro stations. The RER B from Antony runs through Paris to Aéroport Charles de Gaulle. The airport can be also reached by RER-C trains heading from Paris to Massy or Pont de Rungis. From Pont de Rungis-Aéroport d'Orly station passengers get to the airport within 10 minutes by a shuttle bus. The travel from Paris downtown to the airport by RER-C and the shuttle costs €6.85 (2015).
Wi-Fi Internet access is provided free of charge.
Beauvais (IATA: BVA), a distance north of the city, is a smaller regional airport that is used by some low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and WizzAir. Like many small airports there is a cartel in operation in the form of the airport operated shuttle service connecting with the Métro at Porte Maillot station. Buses run even during the small hours of the morning (06:00). Buses leave 20 min after each flight arrives, and a few hours before each flight departs. Exact times can be found on the Beauvais Airport website. The journey will take about an hour in good traffic conditions, and costs €16 each way, there is no reduced price for children over the age of 2 years. Unless you hire a car this is the most realistic way to head toward Paris, hence why the airport charge the price they do. The alternative is a train service between Gare du Nord and Beauvais, and a connecting shuttle or taxi to the airport. This journey costs more and takes longer. Missing the shuttle bus could mean a taxi fare well over €100.
In addition to public transport, Air France operates shuttles between Charles de Gaulle and Paris (€17), Orly and Paris (€12) and between the two airports (€20). Discounts apply for young/group travellers and online bookers. Note that if you have connecting Air France flights that land and depart from different airports, you would still generally need to fetch your luggage after landing, catch either the Air France shuttle or a taxi (readily available at all airports) to the other airport and check-in again. This altogether could take up to 2 hours, particularly if traffic is at its worst. It is also common to lose time during disembarking, as passengers often need to get off on the tarmac and get on buses which will take them to the terminal. Be sure you have sufficient time between flights to catch your connection. Check-in counters usually close 30 min before the flight departs, longer if flights are international.
Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe by train. There are seven different terminus stations in central Paris and although they are not all in the same district, they are all connected to the Metro and RER networks. You will probably want to know in advance at which station your train is arriving, so as to better choose a hotel and plan for transport within the city.
The SNCF (French national railway authority) operates practically all trains within France excluding the Eurostar to London, the Thalys to Brussels and onward to the Netherlands and Germany, and some low-cost services such as iDTGV and Ouigo (although they are owned by the SNCF, they are considered as different rail companies). There are also a few local lines of high touristic interest which are privately owned. All SNCF, Eurostar and Thalys tickets can be bought in railway stations, city offices and travel agencies (no surcharge). SNCF relies on travel agencies for selling tickets online, the main one being Voyages SNCF (you will need to use a chip-enabled card, and have to have the one used to pay the tickets with you to retrieve the actual tickets in any SNCF station, some foreign cards won't be accepted) and Captain Train (easier to use, and you can retrieve your ticket at any counter or machine with just your name and booking reference). You can also find tickets in online and physical travel agencies. You can book and buy tickets up to three months in advance. There are significant discounts if you book weeks ahead. Reduced ticket prices are different for each day and each train and can be used only on the train the reservation is for.
Trains between Paris and south Germany (Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich) as well as the Marseille-Frankfurt TGV are jointly operated by SNCF and Deutsche Bahn, but each of the two operators will sell tickets at its own price! Make sure to check the price offered by each operator before you buy, or use Captain Train since they automatically compare SNCF and DB prices.
There are a number of different kinds of high-speed and normal trains:
For most train stations, take the Metro line 14 to Gare de Lyon and follow the directions given from Gare de Lyon.
While domestic bus lines were tightly regulated until 2015, the similar experience in Germany, where Intercity buses were deregulated in 2013, have lead to a heavily competitive and fast growing market. Most companies serve Paris, including:
Several autoroutes (expressway, motorway) link Paris with the rest of France: A1 and A3 to the north, A5 and A6 to the south, A4 to the east and A13 and A10 to the west. Not surprisingly, traffic jams are significantly worse during French school holidays.
The multi-lane highway around Paris, called the Périphérique (BP), is probably preferable to driving through the center. Another beltway nearing completion;L'A86 (also A186 and A286) loops around Paris about 10 km further out from thePériphérique. A third, incomplete beltway is much further out and called La Francilienne (N104).
It is advised not to drive in the Paris Metro Area. It is better to drive to a suburban train station with a parking lot and then use the train to continue your trip throughout Paris. Most of Paris' roads were created long before the invention of automobiles. Traffic inside the city tends to be heavy, especially at rush hour; driving, however, may be rather easy and efficient in the evening. Parking is also difficult. Furthermore, the medieval nature of parts of the city's street system makes it very confusing, and traffic will almost never allow one to stop or slow down to get one's bearings. If you are unfamiliar with the streets and still insist on driving in the city, make sure you have a navigator in the passenger seat with you.
In Paris, there are many car rental agencies offering a large number and wide range of vehicles for rental. Additionally, there are numerous car rental agencies located off-site which provide free airport transfers from their location and may offer lower prices well.
The best and cheapest way to get around Paris is on foot, and secondly, using the Metro which is around €1.70 for a one way trip of any length.
Walking in Paris is one of the great pleasures of visiting the City of Light. It is possible to cross the entire city in only a few hours, but only if you can somehow keep yourself from stopping at numerous cafés and shops. In fact within a few years walking combined with biking and the Metro may be the only way to get around the very centre of Paris as plans develop to reduce access to cars in the city centre.
The smartest travellers take advantage of the walk-ability of this city, and stay above ground as much as possible. A metro ride of less than 2 stops is probably best avoided since walking will take about the same amount of time and you'll be able to see more of the city. That said, pay attention to the Métro stations that you may pass by on your journey; the Métro network is very dense within the city and the lines are virtually always located directly underneath major boulevards, so if you become lost it is easy to regain your bearings by walking along a major boulevard until you find a Métro station.
You may have heard of the hazard of walking into dog droppings in Paris. The problem is now virtually nonexistent due to fines as high as €180 and an extensive street cleaning operations.
It's always fun to experience the city by foot, and there are numerous walking tours around Paris, whether self-guided (with the help of a guidebook or online guide) or with a touring guide (booked through your travel agency or hotel). The city is best explored by foot, and some of the most marvelous memories you will have of Paris is walking through secret found places.
Paris has an excellent underground train system, known as the Métro (short for Chemin de fer métropolitain, Metropolitan Railway). Although you will probably take the RER subway train from the airport to Paris, don't be confused: RER is a French-language acronym that translates to "Regional Express Network," and is mostly used by commuters. Look for the Métro stations, marked with a large "M" sign.
There are 16 Métro lines (lignes) (1-14, 3bis, and 7bis) on which trains travel all day at intervals of a few minutes. The service starts on each end of every line at 05:30, and the last metro arrives on each end at 01:15 (service ends an hour later on Friday and Saturday nights, and the day before a holiday), stopping at all stations on the line. Some lines have rare trains that terminate at an intermediate station; if that happens, get off the train with the rest of the crowd and board the next train on the same track or on the other side of the platform (the driver will usually make an announcement in French). Lines 7 and 13 have a fork, so if you take line 13 north of La Fourche or line 7 south of Maison Blanche, make sure to board the train for the correct destination which is indicated by a lit arrow on the sign in the middle of the platform and on colour-coded binders in each carriage. Times for trains can be seen on an electronic scroll board above the platform. Scheduled times for first and last trains are posted in each station on the centre sign. Generally, except for early and late hours, travellers should not worry about specific Metro train times; just get to your station and take the next train. Trains usually come 2–3 minutes apart during rush hour and 5–10 minutes apart during other times, depending on the line.
The lines are named according to the names of their terminal stations (the end of the line). If you ask the locals about directions, they will answer something like : take line number n towards "end station 1", change at "station", take the line nntowards "end station 2" etc. The lines are also colour-coded.
Visitors travelling to or from the airport/train stations with heavy luggage need to keep in mind that changing metro lines might be difficult at times, especially at major metro intersections. Moving from one platform to another generally involves walking up and down multiple flights of stairs. Very few stations have elevators (only the newest line 14 is wheelchair-accessible at all stations, except when the elevators are out of order). Only the busiest ones have escalators. It might be a good idea to check out the Bus routes and timings and see if one can find a convenient bus connection.
In addition, there are five commuter train lines that cross Paris: RER A, B, C, D, and E. RER trains run at intervals varying from about 3 minutes (RER A) to 6 minutes (RER D), and stop at every station within Paris. The rest of the regional network, called "Transilien", departs from the main train stations (Lyon for line R, Est for line P, Nord for lines H and K, St-Lazare for lines J and L, Montparnasse for line N) and La Défense (line U). Trains can run up to every 5 minutes during rush hour, and you will never have to wait for more than 1 hour between two trains, even on the least served lines in the evening or on the weekend.
RER and Transilien will stop at every station within Paris (zone 1), but may skip stations outside Paris, so if you're going to the suburbs make sure your RER stops where you need! Information about the stops to be made by the next incoming train is presented on a separate board also hanging from the ceiling. Four letter codes (KRIN, DIPA, TORE, etc.) are used for the RER and Transilien trains; the first letter indicates the station where the train terminates, and the other three indicate the route and stops. Each line has its own nomenclature. You can look up what these codes mean on information panels in the station, but the easiest and fastest way is often to check the information screens along the platforms.
The Métro and RER move staggering numbers of people into, out of, and around Paris (6.75 million people per day on average), and most of the time in reasonable comfort. Certain lines, however, are operating at or near capacity, sometimes being so full that you'll have to let one or two trains pass before being able to board. If you can help it, avoid Métro lines 1, 4, and 13 and RER line A and B during rush hours as these are the most congested lines in the system.
RATP (website) is responsible for most public transport including metro, buses, and about half of the RER A and B. The rest of the RER, as well as Transilien, is operated by SNCF. However, both companies take the same tickets, so the difference is of little interest for most people except in case of strikes (RATP may strike without SNCF doing so or the other way round).
A single ticket, ticket t+, allows you to either:
It costs €1.80 (2016), or €2 if bought on board of the bus (you can not buy a ticket inside of a tram). However, it is generally not advisable to buy tickets by the unit: instead, a carnet of ten tickets can be bought for €14.10 (10 tickets for the price of 7.8) at any station. Tickets named tarif réduit may be purchased for children under the age of 10 but only in a carnet of 10 for €7.05. Tickets do not expire, but note that they are magnetic and thus should be kept away from some metallic objects such as coins.
Beware that traveling outside the city centre without a valid RER ticket will get you fined, and the packs of inspectors who roam the system show no mercy to tourists pleading ignorance. In particular, the airports and the Versailles Palace are notwithin the city, and you'll need to purchase a more expensive RER ticket to get there .
If you're going to the suburbs, an origine-destination ticket allows you to make a one-way trip on the exact route printed on the ticket (no matter which direction). Price is distance-based (prices can be found here. You can also buy packs of 10 (with a 20% discount), or single or packs of 10 "demi-tarif" tickets (for children aged 4-10, 50% discount for single tickets, 60% for packs of 10). For long same-day return trips, a day pass (see below) can be cheaper than a return ticket (for example a round-trip between Paris and Provins costs €22.70, while a Mobilis day pass costs €16.60).
If your ticket leaves from or goes to Paris, or includes a transfer "via section urbaine", you can also connect with other metro or RER lines prior to /after your main trip to / from the suburbs.
For the following kind of tickets, you need to know that the Île-de-France region is divided into 5 concentric zones. Paris represents zone 1, all of Paris' immediate neighbours (including Vincennes and Saint-Denis) are in zone 2, La Défense is in zone 3, Orly and Versailles are in zone 4, and Fontainebleau, Provins, Disneyland and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport are in zone 5. The few stations outside Île-de-France that are served by the Transilien system are "hors tarification Île-de-France", meaning it is necessary to buy a special fare not affected by the zonal system.
A one-day ticket, Mobilis, allows you to make an unlimited number of trips between 12:00am and 11:59pm on the date you wrote on the ticket, within the zones it is valid for, on bus, tram, metro (a zones 1-2 pass is valid for the whole metro network), RER, Transilien. You do need to write your name and the date of validity on it you've chosen before using it. Prices range from €7 (zones 1-2) to €16.60 (zones 1-5). It is NOT valid from/to Charles de Gaulle airport on RER B, Roissybus, Orlybus, Orlyval.
For travelers under the age of 26, there is a special ticket (Jeunes Week-end) that you can purchase for unlimited travel between 12:00am and 11:59pm on the day written on the ticket on the weekends or holidays, on bus, tram, metro (a zones 1-2 pass is valid for the whole metro network), RER, Transilien.. The price varies depending on the zones you wish to cover (zones 1-3 is €3.85, zones 1-5 is €8.35, and zones 3-5 is €4.90). It is NOT valid from/to Charles de Gaulle airport on RER B, Roissybus, Orlybus, Orlyval. The date and your name must be written on the ticket as for the Mobilis ticket described above.
If you are staying a bit longer, you can buy a Navigo Découverte (DAY-koo-VERT) pass for €5 (you will need to write your name and put a photo on it, otherwise it will be considered as invalid), and load it with either a 1 week pass (€21.25 for all zones, will have to start on a Monday) or a montly pass (€70 for all zones, will have to start on the 1st day of the month). You can choose between zones 2-3, 3-4, 3-5, 4-5, or "all zones", but most visitors of Paris will simply choose the "all zones" pass. Everything related to a "Navigo" pass is in purple (like the target for the pass in the turnstiles). You need to validate your Navigo every time you get on a bus or a tram as well. If you're not holding a "all zones" pass, weekend travel is free throughout the entire Île-de-France region for passengers holding a monthly or yearly Navigo pass, despite which zones are covered during the week. Navigo allows you to reach Orly (zone 4) or Roissy-Charles de Gaulle (zone 5) airports with any public transit line, except for Orlyval light-rail to Orly airport where it's not valid.
RATP and SNCF sell passes dedicated to tourists called Paris Visite, more expensive than the one they offer to locals, but they do include something more (a map, and some discounts on selected attractions). Depending on which attractions you consider visiting, it can be an attractive option... or not. Although not as good a deal for adults in most cases as the Mobilis or Navigo, the Paris Visite passes might still be a bargain for kids of ages 4–11 for trips on Monday-Friday (when the Ticket jeunes is not valid), starting at €5.55 per day for travel within zones 1-3.
Keep your ticket or pass with you at all times as you may be checked. You will be cited and forced to pay on the spot if you do not have a ticket. The most likely spots for being checked are just behind the turnstiles at big métro stations or during métro line changes (correspondances). RATP agents may be present in the métro stations even on Sunday nights.
Métro stations have both ticket windows and automatic vending machines. The majority of automatic vending machines do not take notes, only coins or European credit cards with a pin-encoded chip on the front. Therefore, to use either euro bills or a non-European credit card with a magnetic stripe, it is necessary to make the purchase from the ticket window. Be advised that some ticket vending machines do not give change, so use exact change or go to the ticket window. If you look at the vending machines closely, you may find one in the group that takes euro bills and will give change; these machines can be found at major or touristy stations such as Tuileries, Gare de Lyon or La Défense-Grande Arche.
Some larger stations have secondary entrances, where there is no ticket booth. These are labelled voyageurs munis de billets (passengers with tickets).
When entering the turnstile with a ticket or Navigo pass, it will only work once for that particular station and can only be reset if you use it at another station. Once you have passed your ticket or card, promptly move through the turnstile as it will not let you through if you attempt to use it again.
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Avoid suburban charges
If you have any tickets or Navigopasses for zone 1-2 (inside the Paris area, the lower rate), they allow you to use any metro station, regardless of its actual zone. For example if you want go to La Défense (zone 3) from Châtelet, you have to take the Métro (Line 1). You can take the RER A (and save a few minutes), but you have to pay an additional fare because of the zone system for RER.
Each station displays a detailed map of the surrounding area with a street list and the location of buildings (monuments, schools, places of worship, etc.,) as well as exits for that particular metro. Maps are located on the platform if the station has several exits or near the exit if there is only one exit.
Except for Métro 1, 2, 4, 5, 9 and 14, the doors will not open automatically. In such a case, there are handles or buttons located both inside and outside the train that you have to push or unlatch in order to open the door. Many locals may try to squeeze into the trains after the alarm has sounded to signal the closing of the doors. While one can occasionally pass through on lines with a driver, the automatic doors on Métro 1 and 14 will continue to close despite the presence of a limb or article of clothing. It is strongly advised to wait for the second train than to chance being caught between the doors.
Strikes are a regular occurrence on the Paris public transit system. Generally during a strike, there will be reduced or no service on certain lines but parts of the network will continue to operate; however, in some cases the entire network may shut down completely. Visit the RATP and SNCF websites for information on which routes are affected by a strike. Generally, Metro lines 1 and 14 will be running during a strike because they are operated without human drivers - if you are caught by a strike, it is best to use it whenever possible.
Since the Métro is primarily structured around a hub-and-spoke model, there are some journeys for which it can be quite inefficient, and in these cases, it is worth seeing if a direct bus route exists, despite the complexity of the bus network. A bus ride is also interesting if you want to see more of the city. The Parisian bus system is quite tourist-friendly. It uses the same single-ride tickets and Navigo as the Métro, and electronic displays inside each bus tell riders its current position and what stops remain, eliminating a lot of confusion.
These same payment devices are also valid in the Noctilien, the night bus. Night buses run regularly through the central hub at Chatelet to outlying areas of greater Paris. There is also a circle line connecting the main train stations. It pays to know one's Noctilien route ahead of time in case one misses the last Métro home. Women travellers should probably avoid taking the Noctilien on their own to destinations outside Paris.
Another option for travelers who want to see the sights of Paris without a stop on every street corner is the Paris L'Opentour Bus, an open-topped double decker bus that supplies headsets with the most up to date information on the attractions in Paris. Your ticket is good for four routes ranging in time from 1-2 h. Get off when you want, stay as long as you need, get back on the bus and head for another site. You can purchase tickets at the bus stop. A one-day pass is €25 for adults and €15 for children. A two-day pass is €32 for adults or €15 for children.
There are several excellent boat services which make use of the Seine. As well as providing easy, cheap transport to much of central Paris, excellent photo opportunities abound. You can buy a day or 3 day ticket and hop on and off the boat as needed. The boats take a circular route from the Eiffel Tower, down past the Louvre, Notre Dame, botanical gardens then back up the other bank past Musée d'Orsay. Batobus offers a regular shuttle service between the main touristic sights (closed Jan); other companies such as the famous Bateaux Mouches offer sightseeing cruises.
Renting a bike is a very good alternative over driving or using public transport and an excellent way to see the sights. Riding a bike anywhere in the city is far safer for the moderately experienced cyclists than almost any town or city in the United States. The French are very cognizant of cyclists, almost to a point of reverence. A few years ago Paris wasn't the easiest place to get around by bike but that has changed dramatically in recent years. The city government has taken a number of steps in strong support of improving the safety and efficiency of the urban cyclist as well, in establishing some separated bike lanes, but even more important a policy of allowing cyclists to share the ample bus lanes on most major boulevards. Paris also has many riversides which are perfect for cycling. The Paris bike network now counts over 150 km of either unique or shared lanes for the cyclist. In addition, the narrower, medieval side streets of the central arrondissements make for rather scenic and leisurely cycling, especially during off-hours of the day when traffic is lighter. Do remember to bring a good map, since there is no grid plan to speak of and almost all of the smaller streets are one-way.
Note that, while the streets of Paris are generally fairly easy on novice cyclists, there are some streets in the city that should be avoided by those who do not have sufficient urban cycling experience. Rue de Rivoli, Place de la Bastille, and Place de la Nation are particularly hairy, especially during weekdays and the Saturday evening rush, and should not be navigated by anyone not confident in their ability to cycle in heavy traffic. Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Place de l'Étoile, and voie Georges Pompidou (the lower-level express lanes along the banks of the Seine) should be avoided at all times.
You can find an excellent map of the bike network called Paris à vélo - Le bon plan) at the information centre in the Hôtel de Ville.
Paris is an incredibly open city, with its many "grande boulevards" and monuments with large open spaces around it makes for a city perfect to be explored and viewed from on a scooter. A lot of people think it is a dangerous city to drive a scooter or motorbike, and when you're sitting in a corner cafe watching it may look that way, but in reality it is actually quite a safe city because the drivers are very conscious of one another, a trait that drivers certainly do not have in most other countries of the world! There are so many scooters in Paris, and there has been scooters in Europe forever really, so when people learn to drive here they learn to drive among the scooters. The French do drive quite fast, but they respect one another and it is rare that a driver will suddenly changes lanes or swing to the other side of the road without signalling. When you're driving a scooter or motorbike in Paris you can expect to be able to "lane-split" between the rows of cars waiting in traffic and go straight to the front of the lights. Parking-wise there is plenty of 'deux roues' (two wheel) parking all over the city. Do be careful of parking on the sidewalk though, especially on shopping streets or around monuments.
Paris is the Mecca of city skating. This is due to the large, smooth surfaces offered by both the pavements and the roads. Skating on the pavement is legal all around Central Paris (zone 1) and its suburbs (zones 2+).
In a word: don't. It is generally a very bad idea to rent a car to visit Paris. Traffic is very dense during the day, and parking is, on average, exceedingly difficult and expensive. This is especially true in areas surrounding points of touristic interest, since many of these are in areas designed long before automobiles existed. A majority of Parisian households do not own cars, and many people who move to the city find themselves selling their cars within a month or two.
That said, driving may be an option for going to some sights in the suburbs such as Vaux-le-Vicomte castle or the castle and city at Fontainebleau, or for starting to other places in France. You may prefer to rent from a location outside Paris proper.
Traffic rules in Paris are basically the same as elsewhere in France, with the exception of having to yield to incoming traffic on roundabouts. However, driving in dense traffic in Paris and suburbs during commute times, can be especially strenuous. Be prepared for traffic jams, cars changing lanes at short notice, and so on. Another issue is pedestrians, who tend to fearlessly jaywalk more in Paris than in other French cities. Be prepared for pedestrians crossing the street on red, and expect similar adventurous behaviour from cyclists. Remember that even if a pedestrian or cyclist crossed on red, if you hit him, you (in fact, your insurance) will have to bear civil responsibility for the damages, and possibly prosecution for failing to control your vehicle.
Paris has several beltway systems. There is a series of boulevards named after Napoleonic-era generals (Boulevard Masséna, Boulevard Ney, and so forth), and collectively referred to as boulevard des maréchaux. These are normal wide avenues, with traffic lights. Somewhat outside of this boulevard is the boulevard périphérique, a freeway-style beltway. The périphérique intérieur is the inner lanes (going clockwise), the périphérique extérieur the outer lanes (going counter-clockwise). Note that despite the looks, the périphérique is not an autoroute: the speed limit is 70 and, very unusually, incoming traffic has the right of way, at least theoretically (presumably because, otherwise, nobody would be able to enter during rush hour).
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To stop a taxi...
... watch the sign on the roof: if the white sign is lit, the cab is on duty and available, if the white sign is off and a colored light is lit under it (blue, orange), it's on duty and busy, if the white sign is off and no coloured light is on, the taxi is off duty. Same thing with the colored signs (the two systems exist in Paris, but it tells nothing about the company): if the wide sign is green, the cab is available, if it is red, the cab is busy, if it is off, the cab is off
Taxis are comparatively cheap especially at night when there are no traffic jams to be expected. There are not as many as one would expect, and sometimes finding a taxi can be challenging. In the daytime, it is not always a good idea to take a taxi, as walking or taking the metro (See: Métro) will often be faster. If you know you will need one to get to the airport, or to a meeting, it is wise to book ahead by phone (see below).
Initial fare is €2.40 and the meter increases by around €1.10 each kilometer and around 50 cents each minute spent at red lights or in traffic jams. Fares are fixed by the city law and every driver complies to them. Fares vary according to the day of the week, the hour of the day and the area you're crossing.
If you call a taxi, the meter starts when you call and not when you get in. You should expect a €5 to €10 fare on the meter when the taxi arrives after you call it.
Remember if a taxi is near a 'taxi station', they're not supposed to pick you upexcept at the station where there may be people waiting for a taxi. Taxi stations are usually near train stations, big hotels, hospitals, large crossings.
There are a number of services by which you can call for taxis or make a reservation in advance. The two largest fleet are Taxis G7 and Taxis Bleus:
As in many other cities a taxi can be difficult to stop; you may have to try several times. When you do get a taxi to stop, the driver will usually roll down his window to ask you where you want to go. If the driver can't (or doesn't want to) go where you want, he might tell you that he's near the end of his work day & can't possibly get you where you want before he has to go off-duty.
There is a €6.40 minimum (2012) on all taxi rides, mandated by city law, but the meter does not show this amount, which can result in being asked to pay more than the metered amount on short rides. In Paris taxis are required by law to charge for the trip with a meter, charging a flat rate is illegal, except from/to Charles de Gaulle airport (€50 from the right bank of the Seine, €55 from the left bank) and Orly airport (€35 from the right bank, €30 from the left bank). Frequently the taxi driver will not want to drive you all the way to the doorstep, but will prefer to let you out a block or so away if there are one or more one-way streets to contend with. Try to look at this as a cost-savings rather than an inconvenience. You should pay while still seated in the cab as in New York and not through the front window London style.
The driver will not let you sit in the front seat (unless there are 3 or 4 of you, which is a rare case usually expedited by more money). Taxi-drivers come in all types, some nice, some rude, some wanting to chat, some not. Smoking in taxis is generally not allowed, however it might be that the taxi driver himself wants a cigarette in which case the rule might become flexible.
Many drivers prefer that you avoid using your cellphone during the ride; if you do have to, make an apologizing gesture & sound, and do make a short call.
If for any reason you wish to file a complaint about a Paris taxi, take note of the taxi's number on the sticker on the left hand backseat window.
Beware of illegal taxis.
Known as car services or livery cabs, these cars are not allowed to cruise the street or airports for fares. You need to booked them before they can pick you up. They are flat rate rather than metered (ask for the fare before getting in), and There are two types of licence: the "Grande Remise" that allows the car & driver to pick-up & drop-off passengers anywhere in France, and the "carte verte" that allows pick-up & drop-off in the department or region where the company is based. The Grande Remise cars have a GR on their front plate. They provide more service than a normal cab.
You can find two kind of cab: private and shared.
Paris is one of the great fashion centres of the Western world, up there with New York, London, and Milan, making it a shopper's delight. While the Paris fashion scene is constantly evolving, the major shopping centres tend to be the same. High end couture can be found in the 8th arrondisement. In summer, there is nothing better than browsing the boutiques along Canal St-Martin, or strolling along the impressive arcades of the historic Palais-Royal, with beautifully wrapped purchases swinging on each arm.
A good note about Le Marais is that as it is a mostly Jewish neighborhood, most of the shops in Le Marais are open on Sundays. The stores in this area are intimate, boutique, "Parisian" style clothing stores. You will no doubt find something along each street, and it is always well worth the look.
Other great areas to shop around in are around the area Sèvres Babylone (Métro Line 10 and Line 12). It is in this area you will find the Le Bon Marché 7th, particularlyrue de Cherche Midi 6th. The area boasts some of the major fashion houses (Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, etc.) and also has smaller private boutiques with handmade clothing.
In the Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you can find a handful of vintage clothing shops, carrying anything from couture early 20th century dresses, to 70s Chanel sunglasses. Walking along Boulevard Saint-Germain, you will find major brands. However, if in search of eclectic finds, opt to walk the northern side of the Boulevard, especially along rue Saint André des Arts, where you can always find a nice café to stop in. The area south of Saint-Germain is just as nice, and comes with a price tag to match.
In the artsy quarters of 1 and 4, there are many bargains to be had, once again, if you are prepared to look. Souvenirs are easily found and can be fairly inexpensive as long as you don't buy from the tourist sites. For cheap books of French connection, try the University/Latin quarter as they sell books in all languages starting from half a euro each.
Paris has 3 main flea-markets, all on the outskirts of the central city. The most famous of these is the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (Porte de Clignancourt)(Clignancourt Flea Market), Métro: Porte de Clignancourt, in the 18th, a haven for lovers of antiques, second-hand goods, and retro fashion. The best days to go are Saturday and Sunday. Note that there are particular times of the week when only antique collectors are allowed into the stalls, and there are also times of the day when the stall owners take their Parisian siesta, and enjoy a leisurely cappuccino for an hour or so. The best times to visit the flea markets are in the spring and summertime, when the area is more vibrant. In and around the metro station, you may find the area a little wild, but still safe.
Rue de Rome, situated near Gare St. Lazare, is crowded with luthiers, brass and woodwind makers, piano sellers, and sheet music stores. Subway station Europe. The area south of the metro station Pigalle is also packed with music shops (more oriented towards guitars and drums).
For art lovers, be sure to check out Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is renowned for its galleries, and it is impossible to turn a street without finding a gallery to cast your glance in. On Fridays, most open until late. Most even have the benefit of bottles of wine so you can wander in with your glass of wine and feel very artistique. Great roads to walk along are rue de Seine, rue Jacob, rue des Beaux Arts, Rue Bonaparte, and Rue Mazarine. Also, be sure to visit the historical district ofMontparnasse and quartier Vavin where artists like Modigliani, Gauguin and Zadkine used to work.
Paris is one of Europe's culinary centres, where the haute cuisine has flourished since at least the French revolution. It may however come as a surprise that Paris isn't considered the culinary capital of French cuisine, rather some people prefer the French cooking found in small rural restaurants, outside of the city, closer to the farms and with their focus on freshness and regional specialities. Even among French cities, Paris has long been considered by some people as second to Lyon for fine dining.
There have been other challenges in the last 20 years or so as restaurateurs in places like San Francisco and Sydney briefly surpassed their Parisian fore bearers, again with an emphasis on freshness of ingredients but also borrowings from other cuisines. Parisian cooks didn't just rest on their laurels during this time, rather they travelled, taught, and studied, and together with Paris's own immigrant communities, have revitalized the restaurant trade. Today you can find hundreds of beautiful restaurants with thoughtful (or just trendy) interior design and well-planned and executed cartes and menus offering a creative mélange of French and exotic foreign cuisines. It's safe to say that Paris is once again catching up with or edging ahead of its Anglophone rivals.
Of course there are also some traditional offerings, and for the budget conscious there are hundreds of traditional bistros, with their sidewalk terraces offering a choice of fairly simple (usually meat centred) meals for reasonable prices.
For the uninitiated, it is unfortunately possible to have a uniformly poor dining experience during a stay in Paris, mainly because many attractions are situated in upscale areas of town, and that mass tourism attracts price gougers. It is frequent to hear of people complaining of very high Parisian prices for poor food and poor service, because they always tried to eat close to major tourist magnets. For good food and great service, try to go eat where the locals eat.
Many restaurants are tiny and have tables close together - square metres are at a premium and understandably restaurateurs need to make the most of limited space. In some cases when the restaurant is crowded, you may have to sit beside strangers at the same table. If that does not appeal to you, go to a more upscale place where you will pay for the extra space.
Trendy restaurants often require reservations weeks, if not months in advance. If you haven't planned far enough ahead, try to get a reservation for lunch which is generally easier and less expensive.
For an easy-to-manage eating budget while in Paris, consider: breakfast or "petit déjeuner" at a restaurant, possibly in your hotel, consisting of some croissants, coffee, and maybe a piece of fruit. Get a 'walking lunch' from one of Paris' many food stands—a panino in the centre of the city, a crepe from a crepe stand, a felafel pita or take-out Chinese in the Marais. Traiteurs serving Chinese and/or Vietnamese food are ubiquitous in the city and good for a cheap lunch and many pâtisseries sell inexpensive coffee and sandwiches. All these are cheap (about the same as breakfast), easy, and allow you to maximize your sightseeing and walking time while enjoying delicious local or ethnic food. For dinner, stroll the streets at dusk and consider a €20-40 prix-fixe menu. This will get you 3 or 4 courses, possibly with wine, and an unhurried, candlelit, magical European evening. If you alternate days like this with low-budget, self-guided eating (picnicking, snacking, street food) you will be satisfied without breaking the bank.
If one of the aims of your trip to Paris is to indulge in its fine dining, though, the most cost-effective way to do this is to make the main meal of your day lunch. Virtually all restaurants offer a good prix-fixe deal. By complementing this with a bakery breakfast and a light self-catered dinner, you will be able to experience the best of Parisian food and still stick to a budget.
Budget travellers will be very pleased with the range and quality of products on offer at the open air markets (e.g. the biggest one on Boulevard Richard Lenoir (near the Bastille), Rue Mouffetard, Place Buci, Place de la Madeleine and over the Canal Saint-Martin in the 11th or in any other arrondissement). If your accommodation has cooking facilities you're set, especially for wine and cheese, a decent bottle of French wine will set you back all of about €3-5, while the fairly good stuff starts at around €7. Bottles for less than €3 are not recommended. Keep in mind that the small épicerieswhich open until late are more expensive than the supermarchés (Casino, Monoprix, Franprix, etc.). For wine, the price difference can be up to €2.
Buy a baguette, some cheese and a good bottle of wine and join the Parisian youth for a pique-nique along the Seine (especially on the Île Saint-Louis) or along the Canal Saint-Martin. The finest food stores are Lafayette Gourmet in the Galeries Lafayette or La Grande Epicerie in the luxury department store Le Bon Marché. They are worth discovering. You will find a large variety of wines there, otherwise try wine stores (cavistes) that are present everywhere in the city, and sell all kind of good French wine that you won't find in a supermarket. The owners usualy know their wines and will be happy to help you choose among their huge selection. Some also sell good food. You can search for one online or ask a local. There are also some "wine supermarkets" such as Nicolas or Le Relais de Bacchus (all over the city) that sell more common wines.
For seafood lovers, Paris is a great place to try moules frites (steamed mussels and French fries) (better in fall and winter), oysters, sea snails, and other delicacies. Meatspecialties include venison (deer), boar, and other game (especially in the fall and winter hunting season), as well as French favourites such as lamb, veal, beef, and pork.
Eating out in Paris can be expensive. However don't believe people when they say you can't do Paris on the cheap - you can! The key is to stay away from the beaten tracks and the obviously expensive Champs Elysées. Around the lesser visited quarters especially, there are many cheap and yummy restaurants to be found. The area around Fontaine Saint-Michel, the fountain facing Notre Dame is crowded by particularly tasty places to eat, with good ambiance, cheap prices and excellent service, with the advantage of being very centric of many places of interest. The key is to order from the prix-fixe menu, and not off the A la Carte menu unless you want to pay an arm and a leg. In many places a three course meal can be found for about €15. This way you can sample the food cheaply and is usually more "French". Ask for "une carafe d'eau" (oon karaaf doe) to get free tap water.
Paris has the largest number of Kosher restaurants in any European city. Walk up and down Rue des Rosiers to see the variety and choices available from Israeli, Sushi, Italian and others. You will also find a wide assortment of Kosher restaurants in the 9th arrondissement of Paris near the rue Richer and rue Cadet areas. See the district guides for examples. Kosher restaurants and snacks usually display a big orange rectangle on their front, which ensure clients that they are Beth din certified.
For vegetarians, eating traditional French food will require some improvisation, as it is heavily meat-based. That being said, Paris has several excellent vegetarian restaurants, and many non-vegetarian restaurants will provide vegetarian dishes.
When eating in a traditional restaurant, be careful before ordering dishes labelled as "vegetarian". Many French people presume that fish and seafood are vegetarian dishes. This is a widely spread misunderstanding all around the country. Additionally, French people tend to confuse "real" vegetarians with vegans. When explaining that you're a vegetarian that won't eat fish, people will often presume that you won't eat milk or egg-based products.
Look for spots such as Aquarius in the 14th or and Le Grenier de Notre-Dame in the 5th just to name a few. See the arrondissement pages for more listings. For fast food and snacks, you can always find a vegetarian sandwich or pizza. Even a kebab shop can make you something with just cheese and salad, or perhaps falafel.
There are also lots of Italian, Thai, Indian, and Mezo-American places where you will have little problem. The famous South Indian chain Saravana Bhavan have their branch near Gare Du Nord. In Rue des Rosiers (4th arrondissement) you can get delicious falafel in the many Jewish restaurants. Another place to look for falafel is on Rue Oberkampf (11th arrondissement). Take away falafel usually goes for €5 or less.
Moroccan and Algerian cooking is common in Paris - vegetarian couscous is lovely. Another good option for vegetarians - are traiteurs, particularly around Ledru Rollin (down the road from Bastille) take away food where you can combine a range of different options such as pomme dauphinoise, dolmas, salads, vegetables, nice breads and cheeses and so on.
Lebanese restaurants and snack shops abound as well, offering a number of vegetarian mezze, or small plates. The stand-bys of course are hummas, falafel, and baba-ganouche (caviar d'aubergine). A good place to look for Lebanese is in the pedestrian zone around Les Halles and Beaubourg in the 1st and 4th.
When you are looking for a restaurant in Paris, be wary of those where the staff speak English a bit too readily. These restaurants are usually - but not always - geared towards tourists. It does make a difference in the staff's service and behaviour whether they expect you to return or not.
Sometimes the advertised fixed price tourist menus (€10-15) are a good deal. If you're interested in the really good and more authentic stuff (and if you have learned some words of French) try one of the small bistros where the French go during lunch time.
One of the best value and most convenient ways to see the sights of Paris is with the Paris Museum Pass, a pre-paid entry card that allows entry into over 70 museums and monuments around Paris (and the Palace of Versailles) and comes in 2-day (€48), 4-day (€62) and 6-day (€74) denominations (Aug 2016). Note these are "consecutive' days". The card allows you to jump lengthy queues, a big plus during tourist season when line can be extensive, and is available from participating museums, tourist offices, FNAC branches and all the main Métro and RER train stations. You will still need to pay to enter most special exhibitions. To avoid waiting in the first long queue to purchase the museum pass, stop to purchase your pass a day or more in advance after mid-day. The pass does not become active until your first museum or site visit when you write your start date. After that, the days covered are consecutive. Do not write your start date until you are certain you will use the pass that day and be careful to use the European date style as indicated on the card: day-month-year.
Also consider the ParisPass, a pre-paid entry card + queue jumping to 60 attractions including The Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, as well as a river cruise and allows free metro & public transport travel. Also note a cheaper alternative with this new combined pass available since September 2008 is the Paris ComboPass, which comes in Lite/Premium versions.
Planning your visits: Several sites have "choke points" that restrict the number of visitors that can flow through. These include: The Eiffel Tower, Sainte-Chapelle, the catacombs and the steps to climb to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral. To avoid lines, you should start your day by arriving at one of these sites at least 30 minutes before opening time. Otherwise, expect a wait of at least an hour. Most museums and galleries are closed on either Monday or Tuesday. Examples: The Louvre museum is closed on Tuesdays while The Orsay Museum is closed on Mondays. Be sure to check museum closing dates to avoid disappointment! Also, most ticket counters close 30-45 min before final closing.
All national museums are open free of charge on the first Sunday of the month. However, this may mean long lines and crowded exhibits. Keep away from Paris during Easter week due to crowding. People have to queue up at the Eiffel Tower for several hours even early in the morning. However, this wait can be greatly reduced, if fit, by walking the first two levels, then buying an elevator ticket to the top. Entry to the permanent exhibitions at city-run museums is free at all times (admission is charged for temporary exhibitions).
These listings are just some highlights of things that you really should see if you can during your visit to Paris. The complete listings are found on each individual district page (follow the link in parenthesis).
Good listings of current cultural events in Paris can be found in Pariscope or Officiel des spectacles, weekly magazines listing all concerts, art exhibitions, films, stage plays and museums. Available from all kiosks. timeout.fr/paris/en And also online
All national museums et monuments are free for all every first Sunday of the month.
The Louvre was the world's most visited art museum in 2015, with 8.42 million visitors. Its treasures include theMona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milostatue. With 3.44 million visitors, the Musée d'Orsay, in the former Orsay railway station, was the second-most visited museum in the city in 2015; it displays French art of the 19th century, including major collections of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The original building – a railway station – was constructed for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. Starkly apparent with its service-pipe exterior, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the third-most visited art museum in Paris, attracted 3.060 million visitors in 2015. Also known as Beaubourg, it houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne. The Musée national du Moyen Âge, or Cluny Museum, presents Medieval art, including the famous tapestry cycle of The Lady and the Unicorn. The Guimet Museum, or Musée national des arts asiatiques, has one of the largest collections of Asian art in Europe. There are also notable museums devoted to individual artists, including the Picasso Museum the Rodin Museum, and the Musée national Eugène Delacroix.
Paris hosts one of the largest science museums in Europe, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie at La Villette,attracted 2 million visitors in 2015, making it the fourth most popular national museum in the city. The National Museum of Natural History, on the Left Bank, attracted 1.88 million visitors in 2015, making it the fifth most popular Parisian national museum. It is famous for its dinosaur artefacts, mineral collections, and its Gallery of Evolution. The military history of France, from the Middle Ages to World War II, is vividly presented by displays at the Musée de l'Armée at Les Invalides, near the tomb of Napoleon. In addition to the national museums, run by the French Ministry of Culture, the City of Paris operates 14 museums, including the Carnavalet Museum on the history of Paris; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Palais de Tokyo; the House of Victor Hugo and House of Balzac, and theCatacombs of Paris. There are also notable private museums; The Contemporary Art museum of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, designed by architect Frank Gehry, opened in October 2014 in the Bois de Boulogne.
All national museums et monuments are free for all every first Sunday of the month.
Paris is considered by many as the birthplace of photography, and while one may debate the correctness of this claim, there is no debate that Paris is today a photographer's dream. The French capital offers a spectacular array of photographic opportunities to the beginner and the pro alike. It has photogenic monuments (e.g., Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, the obelisk at Concorde, and countless others); architecture (the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Museum of the Arab World, to name just a few) and urban street scenes (e.g., in the Marais, Montmartre and Belleville). When you tire of taking your own photos, visit one of the many institutions dedicated to photography (e.g., European Museum of Photography, the Jeu de Paume Museum or the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation). At these and other institutions, you can learn the about the rich history of Paris as the place of important developments in photography (e.g., the Daguerrotype) and as the home of many of the trade's great artists (e.g., Robert Doisneau, André Kertész, Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier Bresson).
The Cinémas of Paris are (or at least should be) the envy of the movie-going world. Of course, like anywhere else you can see big budget first-run films from France and elsewhere. That though, is just the start. During any given week there are at least half-a-dozen film festivals going on, at which you can see the entire works of a given actor or director. Meanwhile there are some older cult films like say, What's new Pussycat or Casino Royal which you can enjoy pretty much any day you wish.
Many non-French movies are subtitled (called "version originale" "VO" or "VOstfr" as opposed to "VF" for version française).
There are any number of ways to find out what's playing, but the most commonly used guide is Pariscope, which you can find at newsstands for €0.70. Meanwhile there are innumerable online guides which have information on "every" cinema in Paris.
The Paris Opera, as well as its associated ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, are considered to be among the premier classical performance companies in the world.
If you are under 26, there is a flat rate of €10 for every private theatre of the town every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night. This fare does not apply to public theatres nor opera.
It seems like there's almost always something happening in Paris, with the possible exceptions of the school holidays in August and February, when about half of Parisians are to be found not in Paris, but in the South of France or the Alps respectively. The busiest season is probably the fall, from a week or so after la rentrée scolaire or "back to school" to around Noël (Christmas) theatres, cinemas and concert halls book their fullest schedule of the year.
Even so, there are a couple of annual events in the winter, starting with a furniture and interior decorating trade fair called Maison & Object in January.
In February le nouvel an chinois (Chinese New Year) is celebrated in Paris as it is in every city with a significant Chinese and Vietnamese population. There are parades in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements and especially in the Quartier Asiatique (Asian Quarter) in the 13th south of Place d'Italie. Also in February is the Six Nations Rugby Tournament which brings together France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.
The first of two Fashion weeks occurs in March: Spring Fashion Week, giving designers a platform to present women’s prêt-à-porter (ready to wear) collections for the following winter.
The French Tennis Open in which the world’s top players battle it out on a clay court runs during two weeks starting on the last Sunday in May. When it concludes in June, a whole range of festivities start up. Rendez-vous au Jardin is an open house for many Parisian gardens, giving you a chance to meet real Parisian gardeners and see their creations. The Fête de la Musique celebrates the summer solstice (21 June) with this city-wide free musical knees-up. Finally on the 26th of June is the Gay Pride parade, featuring probably the most sincere participation by the mayor's office of any such parade on the globe.
The French national holiday Bastille Day on the 14th of July celebrates the storming of the infamous Bastille during the French Revolution. Paris hosts several spectacular events that day of which the best known is the Bastille Parade which is held on the Champs-Élysées at 10:00 and broadcast to pretty much the rest of Europe by television. The entire street will be crowded with spectators so arrive early. The Bastille Day Fireworks is an exceptional treat for travellers lucky enough to be in town on Bastille Day. The Office du Tourisme et des Congress de Paris recommends gathering in or around the champ de Mars, the gardens of the Eiffel Tower.
Also in July, Cinema en Plein Air is the annual outdoor cinema event that takes place at the Parc de la Villette, in the 19th on Europe’s largest inflatable screen. For most of the months of July and August, parts of both banks of the Seine are converted from expressway into an artificial beach for Paris Plages. Also in July the cycling race le Tour de France has a route that varies annually, however it always finishes on the last Sunday of July under the Arc de Triomphe.
On the last full weekend in August, a world-class music festival Rock en Seine draws international rock and pop stars to the Domaine national de Saint-Cloud, just west of Paris.
During mid-September DJs and (usually young) fans from across Europe converge on Paris for five or six days of dancing etc. culminating in the Techno parade - a parade whose route traces roughly from Place de la Bastille to the Sorbonne, and around the same time the festival Jazz à la Villette brings some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz from around the world.
The Nuit Blanche transforms most of central Paris into a moonlit theme-park for an artsy all-nighter on the first Saturday of October, and Fashion Week returns shortly thereafter showing off Women’s Prêt-à-Porter collections for the following summer; as we've noted winter collections are presented in March.
The third Thursday in November marks the release of Le Beaujolais Nouveau and the beginning of the Christmas season. This evening, the Christmas lights are lit in a ceremony on the Champs-Élysées, often in the presence of hundreds (if not thousands) of people and many dignitaries, including the president of France.
Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive event guides covering concerts, clubs, movies or special events. For theatre, movies and exhibitions pick up the Pariscopeand L'officiel du Spectacle, available at newsstands for €0.40. For (especially smaller, alternative) concerts pick up LYLO, a small, free booklet available in some bars and at FNAC. There is no user-friendly online version of these guides.
The bars scene in Paris really does have something for everyone. From bars which serve drinks in baby bottles, to ultra luxe clubs that require some name dropping, or card (black Amex) showing, and clubs where you can dance like no one's watching, (although they will be). To start your night out right, grab a drink or two in a ubiquitous dive bar, before burning up the dance floor and spreading some cash, at one of the trendy clubs.
Of course there are lots of interesting places which are sort of off on their own outside of these clusters, including a few like the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz which are not to be missed in a serious roundup of Parisian drinking, so check out the listings even in those arrondissements we haven't mentioned above.
Some nightclubs in Paris that are worth it: Folies Pigalle (pl. Pigalle, 18th, very trashy, €20), Rex Club (near one of the oldest cinemas on earth, the Grand Rex, house/electro, about €15). You might also want to try Cabaret (Palais Royal), Maison Blanche, le Baron (M Alma-Marceau). Remember when going out to dress to impress, you are in Paris! Torn clothing and sneakers are not accepted. The better you look, the more likely you will get past the random decisions of club bouncers. Also important to remember if male (or in a group of guys) that it will be more difficult to enter clubs; try to always have an equal male/female ratio.
Parisians have a reputation for being egocentric, rude and arrogant. While this is often only a stereotype, the best way to get along in Paris still is to be on your best behavior, acting like someone who is "bien élevé" (well brought up). It will make getting about considerably easier.
Parisians' abrupt exteriors will rapidly evaporate if you display some basic courtesies. A simple "Bonjour, Madame" when entering a shop, for example, or "Excusez-moi" when trying to get someone's attention, are very important; say "Pardon" or better "je suis désolé" if you bump into someone accidentally or make other mistakes; if you speak French or are using a phrasebook remember to always use the vous form when addressing someone you don't know, may transform the surliest shop assistant into a smiling helper or the grumpiest inhabitant to a helpful citizen. Courtesy is extremely important in France (where the worst insult is to call someone "mal élevé", or "badly brought up").
If you only learn one long phrase in French a good one would be "Excusez-moi de vous déranger, monsieur/madame, auriez-vous la gentillesse de m'aider?" (pardon me for bothering you, sir/madam, would you have the kindness to help me?) - this level of extreme politeness is about the closest one can come to a magic wand for unlocking Parisian hospitality. If you know some French, try it! But remember, too, that Parisians have places to go and things to do, so if they have no time and don't answer you, don't take it personally. Many Parisians, given time, will go out of their way to help, especially if you make an effort to speak their language and act polite to them.
Most foreigners tend to ignore two basic rules of courtesy in tube and train transport in Paris. If the car is full and you're sitting on a folding seat, you should consider standing up. If you stand next to the door, you are expected to get down to the platform at a stop so that people inside can find their way out. Once they have got out, you can go back. However, don't always expect that others will do the same for you and, if the train is full, get ready to get down with enough time in advance. In a corridor, when pushing a door, you are expected to hold it to the next person, so that it won't close abruptly. This rule is strictly observed in the tube, and quite commonly everywhere else.
In addition, if you are traveling to or from the airport or train station and have luggage with you, make certain that you are not blocking the aisles in the train by leaving your bags on the floor. The RER B (which links both Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports to the city) has luggage racks above the seats (on the newer trains, there are no such racks above the seats, but racks dedicated to luggage in between some seats); it is best to use them so you do not block the path of a local who is getting off the train before the airport stop. On the métro and especially in the RER, please don't take up extra seats with your luggage. There are luggage racks and spaces between the seats.
Be aware that there are hefty fines for littering in Paris, especially with dog droppings (often you'll find free plastic bags dispensers around parks or playgrounds).
First and foremost, French (français) is of course the country's official language. Any native French person will speak French and it helps if you can speak a bit of it. In the parts of the city that tourists frequent the most (Tour Eiffel, Le Louvre, Champs-Elysées), the shopkeepers, information booth attendants, and other workers are likely to answer you in English, even if your French is advanced. These workers tend to deal with thousands of foreign-speaking tourists, and responding in English is often faster than repeating themselves in French. This is not the case for the rest of the city.
For most Parisians, English is something they had to study in school, and thus seems a bit of a chore. People helping you out in English are making an extra effort, sometimes a considerable one. Parisians younger than 40 are much more likely to be fluent in English. Immigrants, often working in service jobs, are less likely (often, still struggling to learn French.) If it's your first time in France you will have some problems understanding what people are saying (even with prior education in French). Unlike most language education tapes, real French people often speak fast, use slang, and swallow some letters.
When attempting to speak French, do not be offended if people ask you to repeat, or seem not to understand you, as they are not acting out of snobbery. Keep your sense of humour, and if necessary, write down phrases or place names. And remember to speak slowly and clearly. Unless you have an advanced level and can at least sort of understand French movies, you should also assume that it will be difficult for people to understand what you are saying (imagine someone speaking English to you in an indiscernible accent, it's all the same).
When in need of directions what you should do is this: find a younger person, or a person reading some book or magazine in English, who is obviously not in a hurry; say "hello" or "bonjour" (bon-zhor); start by asking if the person speaks English, "Parlez-vous anglais?" (Par-LAY voo on-glay?) even if the person can read something in English, speak slowly and clearly; write down place names if necessary. Smile a lot. Also, carry a map (preferably Paris par Arrondissement); given the complexity of Paris streets it is difficult to explain how to find any particular address in any language, no matter how well you speak it. If anything, the person may have an idea as to the place you are looking for, but may not know exactly where it may be, so the map always helps.
On the other hand you will probably get the cold shoulder if you stop a random person in the métro (like, say, some middle-aged hurried person who has a train to take), fail to greet them and say "where is place X or street Y".
Now, if you speak French, remember two magic phrases : "Excusez-moi de vous déranger" [ex-kuh-zay mwuh duh voo day-rawn-ZHAY] ("Sorry to bother you") and "Pourriez-vous m'aider?" [por-EE-AY voo may-DAY] ("Could you help me?") especially in shops; politeness will work wonders.
It is considered polite to always say "bonjour" or "bonsoir" to employees when entering any type of shop even if you have no intention of buying anything. Upon leaving you should say "merci" to thank the shopkeeper for allowing you to browse and say "bonne journée" (bun zhur-nay) or "bonne soirée" (bun swa-ray) to wish them a good day or evening. "Bonne nuit" is only used when telling someone "goodnight" when going to bed.
Though Paris is a safe city, there has been a significant rise in petty crime in recent years, especially pickpocketing. It is only some of the outer suburbs of the metropolitan area (the banlieues) such as Clichy-sous-Bois and Bondy which one would consider 'rough' by western standards. The most prevalent crime by far is petty theft. Pickpockets and scams, of which there are many, are the most common crime. While not common, purse snatching and muggings do happen. Violent crime is rare. Watch yourself at ATMs and other places where your cash may be visible. Keep your money in front pockets, and avoid ATMs that are open to the outside, especially at night.
The police can be reached by phone by dialing 17. Not all police officers speak English, but those found around touristy areas almost always will. They are usually friendly and perfectly approachable should you have to.
The métro is also a popular place for pickpockets. Hold things tightly and be aware of your surroundings. While trains are usually crowded, if someone is insisting and hovers over you, they are probably going through your pockets. It is important to know that a majority of these belong to a gang. These gangs usually use young children as young as seven, with groups of them going around the metro stations pickpocketing tourists and locals alike. If there is a group of three or more suspicious looking people, be careful of your belongings.
Common tactics are two of them blocking you as you try to board the subway, with two behind you quickly going through your bag. Seconds before the doors close, the two jump off, leaving you on the metro without even realizing what has happened. Take note of what locals do. If someone warns you to be careful, there are probably some suspicious types hoping to steal from you. Also be aware that phone-snatching is the most reported crime, and avoid using your cellphone on metro platforms and in the metro itself.
Pickpockets are active on the rail link (RER B) from Charles de Gaulle airport to downtown Paris, which passes through the poor suburbs of Seine-Saint Denis. Try to take the trains which are nonstop between the airport and Paris proper (Gare du Nord) - EKLI/EKIL from Paris to CDG and KRIN/KROL from CDG to Paris. These are faster and are less crowded than the alternative.
There have also been problems with thieves physically fighting people in order to steal their belongings. The most common targets are those with suitcases and backpacks, i.e. tourists. Thieves usually coin their acts with the closing of the doors. Newer trains have cameras everywhere, and thieves are much less likely to use them. Otherwise, stow luggage on the racks above the seat (which is not possible in newer trains) and hold on to your bags so no one can grab them and then run out. You are much less likely of being a victim if the train is crowded with locals headed to work, usually at rush hour.
The train conductors are widely aware of these crimes and will usually wait a few seconds to leave the station after the doors have closed, just in case thieves have quickly jumped off with belongings. There are also emergency cords that one can pull if willing to chase after the attackers. People will usually be helpful and gladly call the police if you do not have a cell phone.
Pickpockets are most likely to be found working at crowded tourists hotspots, so keep your wallet and phone in your front pockets and hold your backpack tightly when in a crowd.
A common place for phone/camera/wallet snatching is in tourist friendly dining areas scattered all over Paris where exposed outdoor tables are commonly right on busy sidewalks. Common practice by many Western tourists is to leave an aforementioned item of value on the table (most commonly a smartphone) in front of them. Some of the criminals, working in groups of three to five people, approach your table and shove what appears to be a survey directly under your nose thus blocking your view of your valuable. While the gang members are yelling in a foreign language another one will slip a hand below your view and take your item of value from the table. This occurs very quickly (less than five seconds) and the perpetrators disappear around the corner just as quick as they arrived.
Key landmarks like the Louvre or the Eiffel tower have been plagued with gangs of pickpockets, which typically operate in groups of about five. As many as half a dozen of these gangs may be active at a particularly famous, crowded venue at any one time; occasionally there are fights between rival gangs of thieves. Asian visitors are often targeted due to a presumption that they are visiting from affluent nations. Venue staff have complained of being spat at, threatened, abused or assaulted by pickpocketing gangs; the Louvre closed briefly in 2013 (as did the Eiffel tower in 2015) due to worker protests of unsafe conditions due to criminal activity. Token attempts to deploy more police have not solved the problems.
At Sacré-Cœur (called Montmartre by the locals), there are many men who will try to tie strings or bracelets on your finger (often called "string muggers"). Not only will they demand an obscene fee for the cheap trinkets (usually over 15€), they will also try to pickpocket you or threaten you with force if you do not give them money. They are usually only at the base of the monument and can be avoided by taking the Funicular of Montmartre. Otherwise, you can quickly walk past them and ignore them, though they will readily grab people's arms and have even been known to target children of tourists. Yelling at them may cause unwanted attention and cause them to back off, but be careful. Sacré-Cœur appears to be the only area where they congregate, but they have been sighted also near the Eiffel Tower.
Besides them, you will notice many people walking around with cheap trinkets at touristic areas, especially the Trocadéro, Eiffel Tower, and Louvre Museum. They are generally not rude but bear in mind that buying things from them is illegal and hurts small businesses. This of course causes them to bolt at the sight of the police, and you may end up in the middle of a stampede!
Be careful around Barbès-Rochechouart and the bars near Moulin Rouge. A very common trick is played here which might cost you up to 500€. The agents standing outside will force you to enter a bar and just have a look for 5 minutes. The moment you order a drink (about 5€), a girl will approach you and start talking generally, and leave in 10–15 minutes. After a harmless conversation with the girls when you request a bill, you will encounter a charge of say 200-500€ as 'service fees' for the services rendered by the girl! In case you resist paying, the bouncers will start intimidating you to try to extract money from your wallet. In such cases, threaten them that you are calling the police and informing the local embassy. Try to buy some time and start creating a ruckus. However, do not try to start a fight with the bouncers. Note that this trick is common to many European big cities.
Another common scam is found along the banks of the Seine river and involves a ring. This involves thieves "finding" a ring which they give to you. They then ask you if you own it. When you say no, they insist you keep it, saying it goes against their religion or they cannot wear rings. A few moments later, they ask you for money to buy something to eat, eventually following you and becoming more annoying. You can either yell at them or steer them towards an area where there are likely to be police present, at which point they will quickly run away.
The most common scam (besides pickpocketing) that has taken over Paris by storm since June 2011 involves women coming up to tourists with pledge sheets. They pretend to be deaf people collecting money for one charity or another. Once you are distracted with the petition, an accomplice pickpockets you and takes your belongings. In addition, once you sign, they point to a thing that reads "minimum ten euro donation." While they may at first insist on this, shaking your head and walking away will usually make them pester someone else. Otherwise, simply waving them off and a loud no should make them give up. If they are in a large group, as is common, be careful of your belongings! This is a ploy to pickpocket you as you are surrounded by them. At this point, yelling for the police will make them disperse quickly. This is most commonly found around major tourist sites, but has also been a problem at Gare du Nord, though this has gotten much better.
Never bet money on a 3 card game as you will always lose. This trick is played by con artists on some of the bridges on River Seine near the Eiffel Tower.
It is a good idea to steer clear of the suburb of Seine Saint-Denis, as this suburb is known for its gangs and poverty, though there is of little interest to a tourists anyway (except the Basilique de Saint-Denis, but that is located near a métro station). You may want to avoid walking alone at night in the 18th and 19th arrondissements as well, as these can be a little shady at night. There is a large problem with youths from the depressed suburbs causing trouble with the police. If locals are moving away, it is most likely from a confrontation. While these groups rarely target people besides the police, be careful. Walk away from a situation that could lead to fights or worse.
In general, remember to be aware of pickpockets, as they act by trying to distract you. Avoid showing off expensive phones or a lot of money in public transportation or in open areas. Put your things in a money belt or your front pockets, but never in the back pockets.
Beware if you are obviously Jewish, for example if you wear a kippa/yarmulke. Many people who are easily recognisable as Jewish have faced harassment or worse, primarily from that subset of Muslims from within and outside the Paris area who have violent feelings toward Jews. As a result, many of the local Jews no longer wear identifiably Jewish clothing or symbols (such as Star of David pendants) while walking on the street or taking public transportation. The French government is taking this threat very seriously, and recently (as of 2015) assigned thousands of soldiers to guard places throughout France that are considered likely to be in possible danger from terrorists, but there is only so much that can be done to protect people from violence on the street, so consider taking the advice of local Jews regarding your behavior. For example, if you wear a kippa, consider wearing it under a hat that is not identifiably Jewish, or if you find it unacceptable to be in a place where your appearance might put you in danger, consider postponing your trip or going elsewhere.