Getting around Paris, just like any other major city, boils down to four options: metro, taxi, biking and your own two feet. Metro is cheap, reliable and offers extensive network that guarantees to take you virtually anywhere. Taxis offer security and added convenience, although cab fares can be a stronger hit on your wallet than you would like. City bikes are easy to rent, either with numerous bicycle rental shops in Paris or a government-sponsored rental service VГ©lib. Last, but not least, hiking is free and gives you an excuse to linger in little cafГ©s and squares while resting and people-watching. Let's take a closer look at each option.
Walking around Paris is not as arduous as it sounds, since many sights in the central districts of Paris are huddled relatively close together. For example, you can easily walk from Le Louvre to Place de la Bastille, to Notre Dame de Paris, into the Latin Qarter and so on. The SacrГ©-Couer basilica and the PГЁre Lachaise cemetery are the only major sights located outside the walking abilities of average visitors (they are truly far, in the 18th and 20th districts respectively). If your hotel is located further away from the central Paris, you may need to combine walking with a short metro ride вЂ“ the most frugal and convenient combination to sightseeing around Paris.
Metro in Paris used to have a shady reputation, perhaps partially due to grim products of French cinema, depicting the metro network as a crime and violence hub. This is simply not true, and taking metro in Paris is as safe as anywhere else in any major city. The most common problem on the Paris metro network is theft, but all the usual safety precautions will keep you out of trouble: keep a firm grip on your belongings at all times; never put anything of value in the back pocket of your pants; do not flaunt expensive jewellery, technology (iPhones, iPads, smartphones or netbooks) while riding the metro; do not count your cash in public; leave your passports in a safe place in your rental apartment or hotel. Metro in Paris is also safe after dark, but if you do not feel safe riding at night, take a taxi.
The metro prices in Paris are as follows:
One-way metro fare вЂ“ 1.70в‚¬;
10-rides ticket вЂ“ 12.50в‚¬;
10-rides ticket, reduced вЂ“ 6.25в‚¬, available to students and young people travelling in groups of 10 or more;
1-day unlimited travel - 6.30в‚¬;
One calendar week unlimited travel - 18.85в‚¬;
One calendar month unlimited travel - 62в‚¬;
Paris Visite Card for unlimited travel for 1-5 days - from 9.30в‚¬ to 29.90в‚¬ depending on the number of days;
Paris Visite Card for children - from 4.65в‚¬ to 14.95в‚¬ depending on the number of days.
All prices are indicated for Zone 1 of Parisian public transport. This zone covers the city of Paris in its entirety (not including suburbs) and is the best choice for the vast majority of visitors. All tickets may be used on buses, trains and trams in Paris.
Taxis in Paris are plentiful. They can be called in advance, hailed on the street, ordered on the Internet. If you are calling for a cab, please note that the meter is usually turned on once the driver starts moving towards you, so the meter would be already on when you board. The seating fare is 2.30в‚¬ and the minimum charge for the ride is 6.20в‚¬. There is a 3в‚¬ charge for extra passengers (fourth and fifth person) and a 1в‚¬ charge for bulky luggage such as skis, strollers.
Price per distance varies by time and day:
Rate A (0.92в‚¬ per km) applies on weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm;
Rate B (1.17в‚¬ per km) is the most widely used one. It applies after 5 pm on weekdays, from 7 am to 11:59 pm on Sundays, on all holidays, and on trips to suburbs from 7 am to 7 pm.
Rate C (1.42в‚¬ per km) is used on Sundays from 12 am to 7 am, on suburban rides from 7 pm to 7 am, and at all times on rides beyond suburbs.
When hailing a taxi on the street, look at the roof light to make sure the cab you want to ride is available. If the lights are off, it is unavailable; if they are on, you can hop in. The lights will also tell you which rate (A, B or C) applies at the moment.
Finally, if you prefer pedalling your way around Paris, you can walk into a bike rental in Paris and get a bicycle for 10-15в‚¬ a day, but be careful to check that it is in a good state. The government-supported alternative offers access to hundreds (1200 to be exact) of self-service bike stations around Paris, where you can rent a bicycle for up to 4 hours as many times a day as you like, called VГ©lib. You do not have to return the bike to the station where you borrowed it, and there is a station literally every 300 meters or so in the city. The convenience comes with a price: even though you do not have to register in advance and the first 30 minutes are free, you still have to pay a fixed access fee to use VГ©lib. If you borrow your bike for more than 30 minutes, usage charges apply as well.
The service access charge varies depending on the subscription:
1-day ticket вЂ“ 1.70в‚¬;
7-day ticket вЂ“ 8в‚¬;
One year membership (Classic) вЂ“ 29в‚¬;
One year membership (Passion) вЂ“ 39в‚¬ or 29в‚¬ for the 14-26 years old (gives you first 45 minutes free instead of 30 minutes).
The usage fees are identical for all subscriptions (or lack thereof):
Up to an hour вЂ“ 1в‚¬;
One and a half hours вЂ“ 2в‚¬;
Up to two hours вЂ“ 4в‚¬.