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Travel / Tours / Paris / Guide
Guide for visitors to Paris
  Further information


This page is a brief guide to some of the practical issues to consider if you are planning to travel to Paris.

Paris (Eyewitness Travel Guides) (guidebook)
Author: Alan Tillier
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Date: February 2007
Paris: Pocket Map and Guide (map/guidebook)
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd
Date: February 2006
Paris - An Insider's Guide (DVD; BBC series)
Presenter/author: Sandrine Voillet
Studio: 2 Entertain Video
Date: July 2007
"Time Out" Paris (guidebook)
Author: Peterjon Cresswell
Publisher: Time Out Group Ltd
Date: February 2007

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To check if you need a visa to travel to Paris, see:

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The euro is the currency used in France. The main notes are for 50, 20, 10 and 5 euros. There are coins for 2 and 1 euros, and for 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents

It is a good idea to obtain some euros before travelling. You can get them from banks, post offices, some large department stores (eg larger branches of Marks and Spencer's) and from bureaux de change. You may need to order the currency a day or two in advance. Try to avoid carrying more cash than you need, in case it is stolen - you may want to limit it to the amount which is covered by your travel insurance.

If you have a credit or debit card, check with your card issuer or bank to find out if you can use the cards in cash machines or shops in Paris.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted widely, both within shops and cash machines.
If you use a credit card you will be asked to enter your 4-digit PIN, so make sure that you know what this is. After pressing the numbers on the keypad you normally need to press a green key marked "valider" or "V". If your number is accepted the message "code bon" (good code) should appear.

For mid-market exchange rates: Euros => UK pounds ; UK pounds => Euros
Tourist rates are often 3%-5% worse than these market rates.

50, 20, 10 and 5 euros

Coins: 2 euros, 1 euro,
50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1 cents

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For full details about how to buy a Eurostar ticket, see: Shop/Company/Eurostar.

If you are travelling to Paris by Eurostar, you can join the service at London Waterloo or at Ashford (in Kent) [starting on 14 November 2007 trains will leave London from St Pancras International instead of from Waterloo]. You should arrive at the station an hour before travelling, because you will have to go through baggage and passport controls. You are normally allowed to board the train about 15 minutes before departure. Your ticket shows which carriage number to enter - make sure that you choose the correct stairs so that you don't need to walk too far. Your seat number is shown on your ticket.

The journey lasts about 2 hours 30 minutes. There is a buffet carriage where you can buy drinks and snacks. When you reach the tunnel remember to put your watch one hour forward if travelling from England to France, or one hour back if travelling from France to England.

In Paris you arrive at the station Gare du Nord, in the northern part of the city centre. There are connections with the metro (Paris underground trains) lines 4 and 5 , and RER (Paris suburban trains) lines B and D. Mainline train (SNCF) services from Gare du Nord travel north - you may need to go to Gare de l'Est to travel east, Gare Montparnasse to travel south or Gare Saint-Lazare to travel west.

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The easiest way to travel around Paris is to use the underground trains (Metro)

For a map, see: (click on the arrows to scroll up/down/left/right to see the full map).
You are recommended to carry a metro map with you while you are travelling. You can usually find one in guidebooks or on the back of street maps of Paris.
Metro lines are numbered 1 to 14 and are each shown in a different colour.
The direction of travel is indicated by the name of one of the end stations on that line. For example, the last station on line 1 is either La Defense (if you are travelling west) or Chateau de Vincennes (if you are travelling east), so follow signs for "M 1 La Defense" or "M 1 Vincennes" (the names of long stations are often abbreviated).
You can change lines at any station marked on the map with a white circle. Follow signs for "correspondence" and look for the number of the line you want, and then choose the platform for the correct direction.
To estimate journey times, allow about 2 minutes for each stop and between 5 and 10 minutes for each change of train.

Tickets are about one third cheaper if you buy 10 tickets at the same time - just ask for a "carnet" (pronounced car-nay) at a metro ticket office. You can share these tickets with a friend and then buy more individual tickets or another "carnet" when you need them.
Place your ticket into the entrance gate. It will be stamped and returned at the other side of the turnstile - take back the ticket ("reprenez votre billet") and push the door if necessary. You should keep your ticket during the journey and throw it away only after you have left the transport system and returned to the street - a ticket inspector may ask you to show your ticket and you must give the correct one. If you use the RER network you may need to use the same ticket at the exit gate as well as at the entrance gate, and may need it again if you transfer onto a metro train. Each machine stamps your ticket in a different way and it can be difficult to see which tickets are used, so keep used tickets separate from new ones.
Do not let your tickets touch a metal object - they may lose their magnetism and then they will not work.

There are a lot of pickpockets on the Paris metro. Always keep your bag in front of you and keep it closed securely. Be aware of people around you - especially groups of children - and do not allow people to distract your attention. Be particularly careful at the ticket gates, on crowded platforms (especially those near popular tourist locations) and in busy trains.
Stand back from the platform, behind the white line at the edge. Do not attempt to get on a train once you have heard the siren and the lights next to the doors are on. The doors close very hard, so you may be injured if part of your body is caught by them.

Old-style metro entrance sign

A "carnet" of 10 metro tickets

Metro train

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Taxis can be hailed on the street or at a taxi rank. It is free if the top sign ("taxi parisien") is lit up. Do not confuse this with the lower light, which shows the level of fare being charged during a journey (A, B or C).

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You can use a metro ticket to travel on the buses. Enter through the door near the driver. Make sure that you validate the ticket by putting it into one of the machines on board (you need a new ticket for each journey).

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The voltage in France is 220 volts. You may need a transformer (or to change the voltage setting) if you use electrical goods bought outside Europe, but you will not need this for UK electrical goods (the voltage in the UK is 240 volts).

Plugs in France have two round pins (and may have a round hole). An example of an electrical socket is shown below. You will need an adaptor if you are using equipment which has been fitted with a UK plug - you can buy these at department stores in Britain or in France (for example at BHV, FNAC or Galeries Lafayette). If you are staying at a hotel you may be able to borrow an adaptor from the front desk (you will need to pay a deposit which will be given back when you return the adaptor).

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To call the UK from France, add the code 00 44 (or +44) to the start of the UK number, without its first zero.
To call France from the UK, add the code 00 33 (or +33) to the start of the French number, without its first zero.

If you have bought a mobile phone in the UK, contact your network company and ask for your phone to be enabled for roaming, allowing it to make and accept calls while you are in France. Check if you need to use international codes when calling UK or French numbers (you will normally receive a text message when you first turn on your phone in France).

To use a public phone you may need to buy a télécarte (phonecard). There are not many telephone boxes which accept coins. These cards can be bought from post offices, tabacs (tobacconists) or from your hotel's front desk.

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Book a trip to Paris:
Anderson Tours: Travel/Tours/Company/AndersonTours
International Friends: Travel/Tours/Company/InternationalFriends

Useful websites:
French Tourist Office:
Paris Tourist Office:
Paris Ile-de-France:
Public transport in Paris:
Paris Voice (magazine for English-speaking Parisians):
City guide:
Foreign embassies in Paris:

Independent travel to Paris:
To book a Eurostar train ticket from London to Paris: Shop/Company/Eurostar
To book a Eurolines coach ticket from London to Paris: Shop/Company/NationalExpress
To book a flight to Paris: Travel/Transport/Air

Hostels/hotels in Paris:
Click here for: Accommodation in Paris

Weather forecast for Paris:

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Visit Paris: Travel/Tours/Paris
Visit other parts of France: Travel/Tours/France

Home page: Home

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