Monday, October 10, 2016

TRAVEL TIP: Transportation in and out of Paris

Paris is an incredibly accessible city; easy to get around and you can see nearly everything or everyplace right on the ground, that is by walking.

If you have to cross the city for whatever reason, meeting a friend or having dinner in a distant arrondissement from where you're staying, using the Metro is a blessing. And if you're staying in the city for any length of time, say longer than a week or ten days, you might want to consider picking up a Navigo Pass.

The Navigo allows you to just swipe and go through the turnstiles; and you can use any of the buses as well as the RER and trams that run around the inner periphery of Paris. You will need a photo (notice all those Photomation machines in the larger Metro stations?) and you’ll have to have a passable grasp of French to speak with one of the service reps. But once you have the Navigo, off you go! We've had our passes for quite a few years now and just top it off when we return.

The other Metro option is to purchase the “Carnet” or 10-pack of tickets. There’s also a 1-day pass but we didn’t find that as cost effective as the 10-pack. Still the 1-day might work for you so check it out before you buy.

Whichever way you opt to go, you’ll probably only need to buy tickets for zones 1-3; zones 1-5 will get you all the way out to the airports, Versailles and Fontainebleau, way out of the city in other words. . . Again check your needs before you buy. (The Navigo pass is good for all 5 zones.)

The official Metro site can be found right here: http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21879/visiting-paris/ Another very user-friendly site in English in Paris by Train: http://parisbytrain.com/paris-transportation-zone-map/

As for travel out of the city -- like we took to Giverny and to Lille --  you might find a small challenge in purchasing tickets. The official French railway company, SNCF, makes it very easy to purchase tickets online BUT if your credit card has a magnetic strip, which most American cards have, you won't be able to use the self-serve kiosks at the train station. That's right folks, you'll have to stand in line to get your tickets. Go figure but go prepared.

Finally, for getting to and from any of the airports -- we usually go in and out of Charles de Gaulle -- we used Paris Bleu Van shuttle this time. We’ve used them in the past and never had a complaint, although if you opt for the (cheaper) shared service you might find yourself in the dark early hours driving around and around Paris picking up other passengers. A 35-minute trip then becomes 60- or 90-minutes. . . You get the point. You can find Bleu Van online at http://www.bluvan.fr/

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