Results tagged RER from David Lebovitz

Paris Safety Tips

Leave Us Alone!

Paris is a relatively safe city, as cities go, and recently, I was having a discussion with someone about places to be wary about traveling to and was told that the only place in the world that they felt unsafe was in….San Francisco. (And they were from Naples!) So anything can happen anywhere in the world and petty crime sometimes occurs in places where you don’t expect it, like museums, hotel dining rooms, and restaurants.

Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Other times, it’s a lapse of common sense. For example, if you wear fancy jewels or tote a pricey handbag on the métro, there is probably someone on there that loves your gold Rolex as much as you do. On public transit, it’s especially easy to “grab and go” things because once the doors shut and the train pulls away, the damage is done. (If that does happen to you, notify the driver at the next station; sometimes they will call security for you and alert others on the train to be careful.) In cases where your wallet is stolen, they will sometimes remove the cash right away and toss everything else in the trash, or even on the ground, as it’s hard to prove that a wad of cash is stolen. So sometimes you do get your wallet back. (A friend had the wallet lifted from her purse, which was next to her in a restaurant. After the diner next to her quickly left before eating, when she realized what had happened, the waitress found her wallet on the ground just outside.)

Wily pickpockets blend in well. It’s easy to categorize people by how they dress or look, or their nationality, but pros know how to mix in. Someone who leads tours in Italy pointed out the pickpockets at her outdoor market, some posing as young couples on their honeymoon and I never would have suspected a thing. I’ve shooed away a few young women “tourists”, looking lost as they tried to read their maps in Barcelona, using the maps to cover up their hands as they rifled through people’s belonging. I’ve seen the same ruse in Paris and it’s a shame that we have to be careful when helping someone who is ostensibly lost.

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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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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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Paris Transit Tickets: Navigo Decouverte

Métro Sign

(Please note that fares may increase. These were updated in 2013. Check the RATP website for the most up-to-date fare information.)

For passes, you will just need zone 1 and 2 tickets if you are staying in Paris.

Carte Navigo

For Paris transit, visitors who are non-residents can buy weekly Navigo Découverte passes, which presently costs €19,80, plus a one-time fee of €5; for the cost of the pass, which is reusable for future visits.

You must bring a photo. There are photo machines in some of the métro stations, but I strongly urge guests to bring a stamp-sized photo from home where you’re less-stressed, since the machines require correct change, may be confusing, and sometimes don’t work. (If you press the wrong button, you might get a 10-inch close up of your nostrils.) It doesn’t need to be passport-quality, so any snapshot will do.

Carnets of Tickets and The New Ticket t+

Carnets of 10 tickets, as always, are also available at métro stations for €13,30; and in Tabacs. Bravo to the new Ticket t+ that allows you 1½ hours to transfer between buses, trams, or métros…although not between the bus and métro systems for some reason. Tickets sold onboard buses can’t be used for transfers, which are marked sans correspondance.

Individual tickets are available as well for €1,70, but the carnet is a better deal and any unused tickets can be saved for your next trip. Or given to a friendly American fellow who lives there.

Where To Buy

Weekly Navigo cards are available at SNCF train stations and métro stations manned by cashiers, as well as métro stations with an actual RATP office.

(Most of the regular métro stations have gone to electronic machines which take cash and some credit cards if they have a puce, or microchip, which replaced human cashiers. Larger métro stations, for the most part, still have cashiers to buy tickets and Navigo Découverte cards.)

What About a Paris Visite Card?

You can also buy a Paris Visite card which costs substantially more but can start or begin on any day. They’re available in 1 (8.5€), 2 (14€), 3 (19€), and 5 (27.5€) denominations. The Paris Visite card offers discounts on various monuments, museums, and other attractions, plus 25% off the Bateaux Parisiens boat, so they’re not necessarily a bad deal. You can buy them online, in advance from a third-party, or during your stay.

(All prices listed are subject to change.)

UPDATE: You can find more information at my post: Paris Transit Options.

More Paris Travel Links and Tips

Official Navigo website

Transilien French Train Information (in English)

Navigo Decouverte Information

Which Paris airport transfers to use

Some of my favorite Paris Travel and Dining Guides

Navigo to Carte Orange details on the RATP site. (The site is in French, although some information is available in English by clicking on the British flag.)

List and links for Paris Cooking Classes

Confused about how much to tip in France?

10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris, according to me

More of my Paris Travel Tips

Paris Airport Transfers: Charles de Gaulle/Roissy

Bastille Day in Paris

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.

The airport is undergoing a much-needed renovation, so give yourself a bit of extra time to catch public transit and find your way around once you’re dropped off. They’ve also added an extra security stop (passport control) before you can enter the satellites and duty-free shopping area, which you need to pass before you get to the gate area, lounges, and x-ray screening.

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 my last trip, a group of us loaded with luggage followed the signs to the airport from the RER station—which led to a solid brick wall. Ouch!

Depending on traffic, the ride can take anywhere from a 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.



RER Train

The RER is fast and economical, and doesn’t depend on traffic patterns so even if you’re traveling during rush hour, it pretty much runs on schedule. The RER B line, the one to Charles de Gaulle Airport, travels through some dubious areas on the outskirts of Paris and I’ve heard third-hand reports of pickpockets and trouble, but haven’t experienced any of them firsthand. As always when traveling anywhere, be cautious, but not paranoid.

If you have a lot of luggage, schlepping through the underground métro and RER stations can be a big hassle, especially when the escalators and elevators aren’t functioning. If you do take the RER, when you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to hop on the tram (Terminal 1) or a shuttle (Terminal 2) to take you to whichever terminal you’re going to. Make a note of that before you get on so you’re not fumbling with paperwork during the scrum to get off the train.

The stations in Paris where the RER line B goes directly to the airport are: Gare du Nord, Châtelet/Les Halles, St. Michel, and Luxembourg. Some of these stations are very big and bustling so give yourself extra navigational time. Trains go every 15 minutes, from around 5am to 11:40pm and note the ‘B’ line splits, so make sure the sign on the platform says that the train is headed towards the airport before you hop on.

Frequent travelers might want to invest in a carnet aeroport of ten tickets, good for going to-and-from the airport. You get a discount for buying ten at once, and they don’t expire so you can use them on future trips. They can be purchased at the cashier’s desk, or in the machines, by scrolling past the single airport ticket option.

Website: Ratp.fr
(Click on country flag for other languages)

Roissybus

Takes 45 minutes to an hour, and leaves from the rue Scribe and rue Auber, just across from the American Express office. From Paris, if you take the métro, there’ll be signs in the station directing you where to go when you exit the train.

This is an inexpensive way to go at €9.40 and there are no staircases to contend with. Although unless you’re staying near the Opéra, you’ll have to take transit to get to the departure area in Paris, or vice versa. The other downside is that you’re traveling on surface roads and there may be traffic, especially at rush hour (although there are special lanes within Paris for buses.) Buses go every 15-20 minutes and run 5:45am until 11pm. There is a machine to buy tickets at the airport, or you can buy tickets from the driver.

Website: Roissybus

Air France Bus

These buses, called ‘les cars’ in France, depart from Charles De Gaulle every 30 minutes. Four various routes in Paris stop at Charles De Gaulle & Eacute;toile (Arc de Triomphe), Porte Maillot, Invalides, Gare de Lyon and Montparnasse. You can purchase tickets from the driver or the ticket booth in some instances.

The bus is inexpensive (around 15€) and relatively fast since they go on direct routes. They do travel on surface roads so travel time is subject to traffic.

Website: Les Cars Air France.

Noctilien Bus

If you arrive late at night, the Noctilien bus of Paris runs from 12:30am to 5am. You can get to the Châtelet, Gare de Lyon, Gare Montparnasse, Gare de l’Est and Gare St. Lazare using lines N120, N121, and N140.

Buses run every hour and the trip isn’t very rapid, so unless you’re really pinching centimes, my recommendation would be to spring for a taxi late at night.

Website: Noctilien

Semi-Private Shuttle

With these, you can pay in advance, online with a credit card, and you’ll be given a toll-free number to call which you do when you arrive at the airport. The operators and drivers usually speak English, but be sure to print out your confirmation with the number in case they don’t have it on record (which has happened to me.)

The best part of the shuttles are that they take you right to the front door of where you’re going. The downside is that you may end up cooling your heels at the airport waiting for others to arrive, or you may be the last to be dropped off in Paris, depending on where you’re going. The cost is usually close to 24€ for one person, with economical discounts for two or more. (You can tip the driver around 2€ if you wish.)

A few I’ve taken are Bluvan and Yellow Airport Shuttle. You can search for others online. One I’ve had particularly good luck with is Bee Shuttle which offers a “First Class” shared option, promising only two stops.

Taxi

You can get a taxi from the stand at the airport, although there can be a line waiting. In general, the fare to CDG is between 35-55€ and there’s a surcharge for each piece of luggage. Drivers will only take 3 people maximum unless they have a van.

From Paris, you can hail a cab although they’re technically not supposed to stop anywhere except at taxi stands, which are listed in your handy Guide d’Arrondissements. Since cabs can be scarce, especially in bad weather or during busy times, the hotel can call you a cab. Be aware that in Paris, the meter starts when the driver gets the call, so don’t be surprised to find a few euros on the tab when they show up. There is also a minimum charge in Paris. (You can scope out the cab stand near your hotel the night before, although see if it’s well-occupied which will give you an idea of availability the next day.)

Or better yet, get the phone number of a good driver you might have come across during your stay. Most drivers have mobile phones. A typical gratuity is 5%, or 10% for particularly excellent service.

You can also call G7 taxis direct or order one online. Their website has an English-speaking phone number and G7 also has over 100 wheelchair accessible taxis available (with advanced notice.)

Les Taxis Bleus has a bi-lingual website as well, and you can find more information here.

Private Driver

It’s possible to hire a private driver who’ll meet you as you exit customs. After a long overseas flight, it’s a nice luxury to have someone waiting for you with a sign with your name on it to take you right to your hotel or apartment.

Prices for drivers range from 75€-90€ per trip, although some apartment rental firms and hotels charge 4 or 5 times that for personalized service so it pays to check around. Since many drivers have their own vans, they can take more than 3 people and lots more luggage, which can mitigate the higher price. A typical gratuity is 5%, or slightly more—although it’s not required.



Note: Prices are subject to change and are noted just for informational purposes. Best to check the websites of the various operators for the most up-to-date information.



Links

General information about Official Roissy (Charles de Gaulle) Airport Transfer Information

Secrets of Paris Guide to Paris Airports

Top-rated Paris Travel and Dining Guides and Travel Necessities

Official RATP Website of Paris Transit (Multi-lingual)

Paris Trip Tips Transit Guide

10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

More of my Paris Travel Tips