Results tagged CDG from David Lebovitz

Paris Taxi News and Tips

Taxi in Paris

Like many cities, taxis play a major role in getting people around Paris. However getting a taxi in Paris can be quite a challenge. And with only 4000 cabs added since 1937, from 14k to 18K, if you’ve ever been standing on a deserted street at 2am, then you don’t need me to tell you what a relief it is to find a taxi when you need it.

Also, as far as I know, Paris is one of the only European cities where the meters start when you call the cab. So be aware that if calling in advance, there will already be a higher fare on the meter than what is normally there if you just hail one yourself. (The Lyria train has a service where they will have a cab waiting for you at the Gare de Lyon, which I once used and when I got in, I saw the meter already had €17 on it. The total fare was €24 so most of it was “waiting time. I do recommend using a driver or making arrangements to be picked up by a service or taxi if arriving at the Gare du Nord via the Eurostar as there can be huge lines for taxis there. But at the other stations, it’s usually not a problem.)

A couple of new services have started in Paris. One are shared cabs, where you split the fare with someone. I’m not sure if you’ll save all that much on a trip within the city, but going to the airport can cut the far almost by half. Another development are véhicules de tourisme avec chauffeur (VTC), or taxi-like vehicles with private drivers. The government is trying to impose a rule that if you use a non taxi chauffeur, they have to wait 15 minutes before picking you up. Here are a few other caveats to know about taking a taxi in Paris:

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Milan

Italian Breakfast

Even though it’s just next door, every time I go to Italy, I wonder why I don’t go more often. Before I moved to Europe, I used to wonder why Europeans didn’t travel to other countries more often. And now I’m one of them. I think it’s because just to go anywhere, whether it’s a 45 minutes flight or a 4.5 hour flight, you still need to schlep to the airport, arrive in a new city, find your bearings, and by the time you’ve finally figured out most of the good places to go, it’s time to head home.

babas

It also doesn’t help that when I returned from this trip, two airlines were striking at Charles de Gaulle airport, the RER train was closed for some unexpected (and unexplained) reason, prompting a few thousand of us to be bused to a deserted train station in the middle of nowhere, to wait in the cold pre-winter air until a train showed up nearly an hour-and-a-half later, well after midnight, making the trip from the Paris airport back to the city (which is a mere 23 km, or 14 miles), nearly four hours – or three times longer than the flight to Milan.

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Favorite Travel Items

I’ve made a couple of big trips lately, and although I’m (almost) home for a while, I’m not really a good traveler so I take a few things along to make traveling easier and more comfortable. Here’s a list of things that I don’t leave home without, to make life a little more pleasant on the road, and in the air…

Tempur-Pedic Eye Mask

My whole travel life changed with the Tempur-Pedic eye mask, which is the only one that blocks out all light and doesn’t hurt your head and make you feel like you’re recovering from brain surgery. It also doesn’t press on your eyes, which is said to discourage REM movements, necessary for good sleep. It takes a few moments for the memory foam to conform – and you look like a robotroid wearing it – but when you’re blissed out in total darkness, who cares if others on the plane think you look funny having a puffy black band around your head.

They used to sell them at Brookstone but replaced them with another eye mask for whatever reason. (Amazon seems to be habitually out of them as well.)

And there is a Rick Steves Travel Dreams Sleep Mask that is said to block all light, but with all those dark angles and pleats, it might make your face look like the batmobile.

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Paris Apps

I am accro (hooked) on my smartphone and when friends told me right before I got it, about how it would change my life, I was skeptical. But the moment I started figuring out all the features and downloading apps, it became an integral part of my life. And like many things, the rest of the world has adapted to the phones and enterprising folks have created a myriad of applications for them.

Here are some of the apps that I have on my smartphone. Because they rely on a relatively new technology, in some you might encounter bugs and glitches. Some are free and others cost. But I’ve come to realize that with “free”, you sometimes get what you pay for – some of the free ones are ad-supported – (I have no commercial affiliation with any of these apps) and am happy to pay a few bucks for an application that I’ll use – like a good French dictionary. Which I am sure the rest of the people in France appreciate me having as well.

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Why is the food so abysmal at Charles de Gaulle Airport?

aeroports de Paris

Because they recently asked, since my last trip out of Charles de Gaulle airport, I decided that I would try to imagine the perfect airport in Paris.

I sometimes take a bit of ribbing because being a good American, I can’t go too far without having le snack handy. And with airlines requiring earlier check-ins and cutting down on food service, a number of airports have gotten with the program and realized that there’s thousands of people passing through daily, many waiting…and waiting…and waiting, with nothing to do but eat.

I’ve given up on the food on the trains since those plastic-wrapped triangular sandwiches look terrible. If I was famished, I’d sooner eat the armrests. They apparently gave up the pioneering sous vide cuisine that three-star chef Joël Robuchon created for the trains, and while rail technology was embraced and swiftly moved forward, the food unfortunately didn’t zoom exactly in the same direction.

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Paris Transit Options

water taxi

Here is information about Paris transit passes. (Please note that fares change, so check the RATP website directly for latest information and fares.) Tickets and passes are available in métro and bus stations, as well as RER and train stations, and kiosks at Orly and Charles de Gaulle Airport. You’ll also find a link at the end for a listing of other places in Paris to buy transit tickets and passes.

Please note that many of the métro stations have changed and the people in the ticket booth no longer sell tickets. The major stations, however, are still manned by cashiers. Most of the transactions are now done by bilingual machines which don’t take American credit cards, although the machines they do take cash and coins in euros. I recommend bringing exact change in coins when you go.

Also prices are subject to change and for the most up-to-date information, follow the links provided to check on prices directly at the website(s).

Paris passes are generally good for zones 1 and 2, which are sufficient for most visitors. Tickets to the airports or to Versailles (which are other zones) are best purchased separately since you will likely only be making that trip once or twice, which isn’t enough to justify the higher-priced pass

In my opinion, if your arrival dates jibe with the ones for the Navigo Découverte, that’s the best pass as it allows unlimited travel so you don’t have to fumble and worry with tickets and transfers.

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Crazy Americans

airport line

When you fly in to Charles de Gaulle airport, there’s a mad rush to get off the plane. Then you’re herded to a holding pen-like area, where you wait to go through passport control. It’s complete chaos: everyone surging forward, en masse, trying to get around everyone else, regardless of who got there first. That is, except for the Americans, who wait patiently for their turn, but quickly learn that if they don’t assert themselves, they’re going to spend their entire vacation in that stifling, airless space.

If you leave 4.5-inches of space in front or behind you in France, you may as well not even be there as people take that to mean you’re not waiting. I know that because they act very surprised when I tap them on the shoulder and point out that yes, I are indeed standing in that line with my luggage, just like they are, to check in to my flight. I’m not just hanging out at the airport with a suitcase because I had nothing better to do.

So you have to constantly be on your toes and you can’t let your guard down for a second. If you do, you’ll never get anywhere. It’s pretty exhausting.

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Paris Airport Transfers: Charles de Gaulle/Roissy

Paris airport transportation options

Here’s a list of the various ways for visitors to get to and from the city of Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), where a majority of international flights arrive and depart from. (Note that this post was updated in 2015.) Some modes of transit listed also go to Orly airport, where many domestic flights leave and arrive from.

Charles de Gaulle airport (also called Roissy) is undergoing an envigorating renovation, so give yourself extra time to catch public transit and find your way around. Even though they’ve made the airport a bit easier to navigate, it’s still confusing and things aren’t always where you might think they’d logically be. On one trip, a group of us lugging our bags with followed the signs to the airport from the RER station—which led us to a solid brick wall. Ouch! And another time, leaving Paris three hours before our flight via the RER, the shuttle from the RER station near the airport, to the airport terminal, was closed and we were told to wait upstairs at street level for a bus – which never came. By the time we figured a shuttle wasn’t ever coming, we found alternative transport – but ended up missing our flight. However taxis and surface transportation can get stuck in traffic, so nothing is absolutely certain.

Depending on traffic or where you are going or coming from in Paris, the trip can take anywhere from an absolute minimum of 30 minutes – to 1 hour or more. Because schedules, fares, and hours of service change frequently, I suggest you check the website of the mode of transit you prefer for the most up-to-date information. And give yourself plenty of extra time so you don’t miss your flight.

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