13 May How to Get In & Around Paris Easily
Gal Pals prefer to take the train RER (Réseau Express Régional) from Charles de Gaulle into the heart of Paris where we switch to the Métro. (*See sample route at the bottom of this page.) Usually we arrive pretty fresh and ready to take on the city. Taxis may seem on the surface to be the easier route to take, however, depending upon the time of your arrival at CDG you may just sit in quite a bit of traffic making you more sleepy or frustrated. Taxis can run from 40 Euros to as high as 80 Euros depending upon traffic and location of your final destination.
The European train system is very tourist oriented with kiosks where you purchase tickets with directions in English. Not only is the train a much cheaper alternative, it’s fun to ride along gawking at the local graffiti artists latest creations while giving you your first opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture listening to your fellow passengers speak their native tongue. No language skills? No problem, the Métro is color coded, making it very user-friendly.
There are a couple words of caution applicable here – be sure to pack only the essentials for your trip to keep your bag light and if possible use a narrow expandable suitcase (so on the way home you have room for all your fabulous finds!) This strategy will help you negotiate the turnstiles and several sets of escalators that are unavoidable with train travel into the city. Again, packing lightly will save you big time in event that the escalators are not working or if your Métro stop is under construction forcing you to get off at an alternative station. Another thing to consider is where you keep your purse with your identification. Make sure when you are fumbling with luggage that your handbag is zipped, on your person, and in front of you at all times. Pick pockets take advantage of distracted, tired, foreigners as they make easy marks. Don’t take the trains alone late at night and if you are ever feeling “creeped out” by anyone, make sure that you pay attention to your instincts…Paris is very safe, but no where in the world is free from predators so practice good personal safety at all times.
Truthfully, we gal pals usually take a taxi on the way back to CDG because our flights are typically early in the morning when we are way too tired and loaded down with heavy suitcases. When the party is over, it’s over. Know what I mean?
Taking taxis in Paris seems really easy, but if it rains it’s frustrating to wait around to flag one down. Keep in mind, if you have more than three people the taxis do not have to take you. Typically they do not want passengers riding in the front seat with them. Seriously, the Métro is a much easier and cheaper way to get around. I recommend you purchase a “Carnet” or group of 10 individual tickets which cost less than 12 Euros. This will give you 10 “legs” on the Métro lasting you a few days or the whole week. You can share a Carnet between travellers if you are only there for a few days. These tickets are also accepted on any bus which is another great way to see the city inexpensively.
If the weather is nice and you want an enjoyable way to see the city you could take a boat tour via Bateaux-Mouches or a City Segway tour. The Bateaux gives you a great overview of the city from the River Seine and can be an enjoyable both day or night! The Segway tours are very interesting, but not for the faint of heart. The way motorcycles zip around the city with reckless abandon, you need to make sure that all who are taking these tours stay with the guide and are cautious. It’s an incredibly fun, unique way to see Paris and they make it very personalized. If you are exercise minded or want to be, another great way to tour Paris is by bicycle. Fat Tires is a company that runs both night and day tours in the city and outside of Paris by bike. It’s truly a fun, unique way to see France and get some energy out of the kids!
* Example trip from CDG to my favorite area of Saint Germain:
Head out of baggage claim follow signs pointing you to RER Line B located in Terminal 2 of the airport. From Line B take any train headed towards Paris – take an express train if possible (the times of the next departing trains are located at the tracks and all the trains on that platform will tell you if they are express trains or local) since those will involve less local stops.
For travel to the Saint Germain area determine ahead of time which Métro stop is closest to your hotel. For the Hotel Left Bank, for instance, I switch from the Line B RER at Gare du Nord to Line 4 of the Métro heading south towards Porte d’Orléans and get off at the Odéon stop.
Click on the link below to see an excellent Paris Métro map: