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Paris has two international airports which are Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, and Orly airport.
Both airports are accessible from Paris shuttle bus, taxi or metro (RER B for Charles-de-Gaulle airport; Orlyval for Orly airport).
Paris airports information (flight arrivals and departures, commuting to or from airports, general information): Aeroports de Paris website
List of all French airports: www.aeroport.fr.
Traveling Within France By Car
A car is a convenient and pleasant way to travel throughout France. The road system is of high quality. The France road and highway network system is about 5000 miles long. Many highways have tolls, especially between cities like Paris and other main cities of France. Before driving in France, you need to make sure you know and understand local traffic laws.
Official Site for French Traffic Laws
Learn French road and street signs
Eurotunnel to Drive From/To United Kingdom
If you drive from or to Britain, the Eurotunnel can be handy. Eurotunnel's car carrying service runs via the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone to Calais/Coquelles. Taking as little as 35 minutes platform to platform, it is a fast and exciting way to France and beyond. The service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with up to 4 departures an hour at peak periods. Consult the website www.eurotunnel.com or phone 08705 35 35 35.
The road network is very well developed in France: nearly a million kilometres, of which almost 8,000 kilometres are motorways. There is usually a toll for motorways. To find out everything about toll charges, service stations, rest areas, restaurants, filling stations, and hotels along your route, and for details of your journey, consult the website www.autoroutes.fr
Finding your way
There are numerous guides and road maps available at bookshops, service stations...
The main reference maps are Michelin and IGN.
Some Internet sites suggest different ways of getting from one place to another (from the quickest to tourist routes with stopovers...): www.viamichelin.com or http://www.mappy.fr
Times to avoid
At peak times (7.30 – 9.00am and 5.30 – 7.30pm generally during the week), take care on the approaches to large towns and town centers: the traffic is often very dense. Some problems can also be found at "sensitive" places at the start of holiday periods (approaches to large towns, toll booths...).
To find out about traffic conditions: http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr
In your car, you can listen to the Autoroute FM radio station on frequency 107.7
Parking in towns is controlled and there is usually a charge. Authorized parking spaces are shown by road markings (white dotted lines). To pay for parking, you need to take a ticket from the ticket machines (installed on the pavement) and place it in view on your dashboard. The price of a parking space can vary a lot, depending on the town and the area.
All towns also have underground parking available, in the town centre, or also on the outskirts, which are usually served by public transport.
Most motorway service stations have 'baby corners' with changing facilities and high chairs.
All passengers must wear seat-belts.
All riders of scooters, mopeds and motorcycles must wear helmets.
Bus lanes are reserved exclusively for buses, taxis and bicycles.
Drivers license, insurance certificate and vehicle registration documents must be presented at controls.
Where to park
Parking is strictly regulated in many areas. Dotted road markings indicate parking spaces. Remember that you can only park on white spaces; those marked 'Payant' are pay-for-parking spaces and unmarked spaces are free. Yellow markings indicate spaces reserved for utility vehicles and other markings (GIC-GIG) for people with the relevant card. Dotted yellow lines on the edge of a pavement indicate that brief stops are authorized (for dropping off passengers). Many parking spaces in major cities are regulated by parking meters that can be found along the edge of pavements. You can pay for between 15 minutes and 2 hours (from 5F to 15F an hour). Your ticket must be displayed clearly inside your car. In case of non-payment or parking longer than the time allowed, you risk a fine of 75F. A large number of modern and safe underground parking lots exist in town centers. They cost more than parking at ground level, but guarantee a space and flexible hours of stay.
Before Setting Off
For information on road conditions, consult regional information centers before you set off: Ile-de-France/Centre 33 (0) 1 48 99 33 33 North 33 (0) 3 20 47 33 33 East 33 (0) 3 87 63 33 33 West 33 (0) 2 99 32 33 33 South-West 33 (0) 5 56 96 33 33
Rhone-Alpes/Auvergne 33 (0) 4 72 81 57 33 Mediterranean 33 (0) 4 91 78 78 78
For motorway conditions throughout France: Autoroute info 33 (0) 1 47 05 90 01
Types Of Roads
Autoroutes (Marked on signs with A) Express highways for which you must pay tolls. Routes Nationales (Marked on signs with N) National motorways for which there are no tolls, often with several lanes. Routes Departementales (Marked on signs with D) Smaller scenic country roads with less traffic.
Highway tolls in France are generally more expensive than in the U.S, and travelers should be prepared to stop several times during their trip to pay (toll booths are called peages). Cash and all major credit cards are accepted.
Seat belts are required for all passengers riding in cars.
Hitch-hiking in France
The French often stop to take on hitchhikers. It's a good idea to indicate your destination clearly on a sign. To be sure of a ride, contact the organization 'Allostop', which puts hitch-hikers in touch with drivers in exchange for a modest fee (inscription fees + 22 centimes per km).
Allostop: 33 (0)1 53 20 42 42 or 33 (0)1 53 20 42 43 from outside Paris.
Web site: http://pcb.ecritel.fr/allostop/welcome.html - French language only
You can of course hire all sorts of vehicles, from a bicycle to a lorry, but mainly cars, from specialist agents (or shops and garages for two-wheeled vehicles). France is well stocked with car hire agencies. At list can be obtained at local tourist offices. Fly-drive arrangements are available through airlines and tour operators.
The minimum age limit for hiring a car in France ranges from 21 to 25, with some companies operating a surcharge system for drivers under the age of 25. The maximum age limit varies from company to company, the average being 70 years.
The main car hire companies have offices at all railway stations of large towns, at airports and in the centre of some towns.
If you prefer to arrange your car hire before you leave, contact one of the following companies:
Avis Rent a Car
Hertz Rent a Car
Tel: 1 800 654-3001
Budget Leisure Car
Toll free for France: (reservation) 08701 56 56 56
National Car Rental
Toll free: 1 800 227 7368
Toll free: 1-800-THRIFTY (847-4389)
Special deals from Rail Europe
Train service in France is efficient, punctual, and comfortable. It is one of the most popular ways to get around, allowing travelers to view the countryside in a swift, but leisurely manner. France's extensive railway network connects large cities and towns throughout the country. Smaller towns without train stations are generally linked by bus service to the nearest station. The French National Railroads' (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer or SNCF, www.sncf.fr) network of inter-city rail links also provides frequent express and high-speed train service known as the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse. Operating at a commercial speeds of 186mph, the high-speed network also includes European routes, featuring the Eurostar which connects Paris to London in just 2h35 and the Thalys going to Brussels and Amsterdam in 1h30 and 4 hours respectively. For added convenience, the Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Lyon Saint-Exupery Airports have high-speed train stations.
The price of train travel in France depends on whether you choose first or second class, as well as on the time and date of travel. If you planning your rail travel before you go, there are a variety off affordable and flexible passes (non-consecutive days of rail travel), including packages available for the U.S. traveler through your travel agent or www.sncf.fr. Rail passes for France include the France Railpass, the France Rail'n Drive, Eurail. Combo-country passes are also available, including the France n'Italy Pass and the all new France'n Spain pass.
More info: Click here for Rail Europe or Rail Europe specials and promotions Senior travelers - SAVE! with discounted rail passes
France Railpass from Raileurope
Bus Tours / RVs
The parking of tourist coaches is controlled. Before parking in a town or at a tourist site, please ensure from the Tourist Office that there is reserved parking for coaches.
Bus Coach traffic in Paris
Ile Saint-Louis and Ile de la Cité
Coaches are banned from the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis from 5th April 2003, with the exception of through routes. River shuttles will be used to carry visitors from the other side of the Seine.
The Paris Council has the aim of gradually reducing the number of coaches driving in Paris. One of the main methods of achieving this aim is by organising tourist transport on the Seine for visits to Notre Dame and the Ile de la Cité.
Shuttles will now be provided all year round from the Port de la Bourdonnais and the Port de Suffren on the west and the Port du Bercy on the east. Set-down points for the Ile de la Cité will be at the Port de la Tournelle and on the Quai des Orfèvres.
Streets closed to coach traffic, parking and drop-off points, and tourist areas are shown on the Préfecture de Police website.
Use of a motor caravan as a means of transport is considered no different from that of an ordinary car.
Overnight parking of motor caravans is controlled in certain cities. In this case, there are special sites made available for motor caravans.
"Camping-car Magazine" publishes the "official guide to tourist stopping-places for motor caravans"; it is sold in newspaper kiosks and lists 1,700 places in France adapted for motor caravans (waste, water...).
For more information on motor caravans:
There are many connections to France by sea.
Here are the main shipping companies to cross the Channel:
|P & O Portsmouth|
Portsmouth P02 8TA
Tel: 08705 20 20 20
|Portsmouth – Le Havre |
Portsmouth – Le Havre
Portsmouth – Cherboug
Portsmouth – Cherbourg
Portsmouth – Cherbourg
Dover – Calais
Hull – Zeebrugge
|5 hours 30 (day sailing)|
7 hours or 8 hours if include French tour (night sailing)
5 hours (day sailing)
7 hours or 8 hours if include French tour (night sailing)
2 hours 45 (April – Sept)
Tel: 08705 711 711
|Dover – Calais||From 1 hour 10 and 1 hour 30 (depending on the vessel)|
London W1V 9DB
Tel: 0207 491 4968
Fax: 0207 491 3502
|From Marseilles to:|
Bastia, Calvi, Ile Rousse, Ajaccio, Propriano, Porto-Vecchio
Nice – Calvi/Ile Rousse
Nice – Bastia
Nice – Ajaccio
|From 9 hours to 12 hours|
3 hours 40 (day sailing)
7 hours 30 (night sailing)
4 hours 15 (day sailing)
7 hours 30 (night sailing)
The Brittany Centre
Portsmouth PO2 8RU
Tel: 08705 360 360
|Portsmouth – Caen |
Portsmouth – St Malo
Poole – Cherbourg
(fast ferry May 26 to Sept 30)
Plymouth – Roscoff
Plus overnight sailings on all routes (not on fast ferries)
8 hours 45
4 hours 15
2 hours 15 minutes
Weymouth DT4 8DX
Tel: 0845 345 2000
Fax: 01305 760 776
* via Guernsey et Jersey
** via Jersey
|Weymouth - Guernsey|
Weymouth – Jersey
Poole – St Malo*
Poole – Guernsey
Poole – Jersey
Guernsey – St Malo** Jersey – St Malo
3 hours 15
5 hours 30
2 hours 30
3 hours 45
1 hours 45
1 hour 15
|Hoverspeed Fast Ferries|
Dover CT17 9TG
Tel: 08705 240 241
Fax: 0870 4607 102
|Dover – Calais (Seacat)|
Newhaven – Dieppe (Superseacat)
Dover CT16 1JA
Tel: 0870 870 1020
Fax: 0130 421 8415
|Dover – Dunkerque||2 hours|
209 East Camber Office Building
Tel: 08700 60 39 00
|Dover – Boulogne|
(Bookings from the 22 April)
The Féderation des Industries Nautiques [association of companies in the boating trade groups together sea and river boat hire companies, and a list of them can be sent to you by request.
France has a particularly rich network of canals and rivers, 8,500km long, allowing you to discover the country in depth, as you slowly go along from lock to lock. http://www.france-nautic.com/
You can also find information on the website http://www.vnf.fr
Navigating France: licences, river moorings, fuel...
A licence is needed to operate French motorised pleasure boats at sea where the actual horsepower of the engine or engines is/are higher than 4.5kW (6 HP). There are three types of licence:
• la carte mer [sea licence]
• le permis mer côtier [coastal licence]
• le permis mer hauturier [deep-sea/ocean licence]
There are specific licences for navigating on inland waters. Licences to operate motorised pleasure boats at sea only give the right to pilot by agreement. Any person operating a pleasure boat professionally must have the recognised professional qualifications.
The regulations are on http://www.mer.equipement.gouv.fr/
Port authorities display daily weather bulletins and forecasts for the following days.
At the French sailing association's website, you can consult tide tables for each port. http://www.ffvoile.org/
Taxis, Subways, Buses, Commuting Boats
You can take them from taxi ranks (indicated by a square sign with Taxi in white on a blue background) or hail one in the street (on condition that it is available: the "Taxi" sign on the roof is then fully lit, and the small lights under the sign are switched off).
Some taxi companies:
Taxi G7: 33 (0) 1 47 39 47 39
Taxis Bleus: 0 891 70 10 10 (€0.22/min)
Aéro Taxi (for airport destinations): 33 (0) 1 47 39 01 47
01 Taxi: 33 (0) 1 49 17 01 01
Alpha Taxi: 33 (0) 1 45 85 85 85
To find out about taxi charges throughout France consult the 'tariffs' section of the website http://www.artisan-taxi.com
Taxis are only allowed to pick up from ranks (station de taxi) and you should always check they have a meter. The fare depends on the price and on the pick-up and the price per km.
If your ride takes you out of town and for transfers from airports, check with the driver before starting.
When called to pick up passengers, taxis add the cost of that journey to the fare. Extra fees for baggage, animals or a fourth person are routine.
Tipping is customary but completely at your discretion; generally 10% to 15% is acceptable.
Several towns in France and also Paris have metro or tram systems and most offer a fairly comprehensive bus network. These means of transport serve the town centers and inner suburbs. Fast and economical, they are the most practical worry-free way to discover a town. In Paris the metro is by far the quickest and most practical way of getting about 15 lines and around 300 stations. The service usually starts around 5.30am and ends around 12.30am. Numerous connections with the RER (Regional express network) and the SNCF railway stations allow easy travel to the suburbs.
SNCF Line (Paris outskirts): a ticket purchased from the outskirts to a Paris railway station now also includes travel on the Paris métro and bus.
Métro 1 metro or bus ticket: €1.30. Paris and its outskirts are divided into zones. There are 8 different zones; you can ask for a map of these zones at any metro and RER station, they are available for free. 1 Book or 10 tickets carnet: €9.60. Half price €4.80 for children from 4-10 years. Free under 4.
Simple and safe, the Paris metro runs daily from 5.30am to 12.30pm. Keep your ticket handy ; you may be asked to show it to a transit inspector, and tickets are sometimes needed to exit Metro turnstiles.
Basic Paris Visite Passes-good for unlimited travel on Metro, bus and RER suburban train lines-are available for one (€8), two (€14), three (€18) and five (€27) days; Paris Visite Passes that extend to the airports, Disneyland-Paris and Versailles are €17, €27, €38 and €46.
Passes can be purchased at airports; the Paris Convention & Visitors Bureau; Metro, RER and railway stations; and in the US (ask your travel agent or tour operator). www.ratp.fr
Buses: 1 ticket is now sufficient to cover any bus journey within Paris (as on the métro). In the outskirts the longest lines only require a maximum of 2 tickets. Generally, buses operate from 5.30am to 8.30pm. At night the Noctambus connects the centre of Paris (Place du Châtelet amongst others) and the suburbs.
You can ask for a map of the network (metro, bus, RER) at metro or RER stations (issued free).
Information on regional and Paris transport: www.ratp.fr
Batobus (Tour-Boat Shuttle) From April to October, the city of Paris operates a boat service on the Seine river called Batobus, with stops at the Eiffel Tower, Musee D'Orsay, Saint- Germain-des-pres (Quai Malaquais, on the left Bank and opposite the Louvre), Notre-Dame, Hotel de Ville, Louvre and Champs-Elysees. The fare is €3.50 for one stop, €2 for each additional stop, €10 for an all-day pass (€5.50 for children under 12); €12.50 for a two-day pass (€6.50 for children 12). For information about Batobus, visit http://www.batobus.com/.
The RER The five lines (A, B, C, D and E) of the RER (Regional express network) cross Paris and the Ile-de-France during the same times as the metro.
Please note that outside Paris ticket charges are not the same.
Ask at your departure station for information.
For tourists: Paris Visit Ticket is valid for either 1,2,3 or 5 consecutive days and allows unlimited travel in all zones of the whole network (metro, bus, RER) and on the Montmartre Funicular.
Reduced price for children aged between 4 and 11 years old.
Eurolines is the largest operator of scheduled coach services, offering regular services to over 65 destinations from London. These include Avignon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Marseilles, Nantes, Paris (up to 4 services daily), Perpignan, St Malo, Strasbourg, Toulouse et Tours. Prices start at just £33 return. Connexions are available from around 1200 UK cities on National Express.
Low Fares to France and Europe