eiffel tower

5 Things to know before you visit Paris

Our Paris Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help planning your trip to one of the most popular destinations in France. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What’s the weather like? How can I get from the airport to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need? We have all these answers plus other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few useful travel tips. It’s all compiled in this Paris Travel Essentials. After reading this short and easy-to-read guide, you will be a little more prepared to start your trip in Paris.

Related: More posts on France

Best time to travel to Paris (weather-wise)

  • Paris’s climate is oceanic, with temperatures ranging from 2ºC in winter to 25ºC in summer.
  • Most rainfall occurs from October to May, although it can rain at any time of year. 
  • Spring and summer are peak tourist times, and hotel and flight prices rise accordingly.
  • September is a great time to visit, as the temperatures are still pleasant and precipitations are scarce.

Paris basics

  • Languages: French
  • Plug Type: Type C, and E
  • Electricity: 220-240 V
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • International Dialling code: +33 1
Plug types c and F used in Paris, France are shown along with socket drawing.

Getting into the city

Charles de Gaulle Airport 

Charles de Gaulle Airport is the prime arrival hub in France. It sits 25 km northeast of Paris. It is Europe’s 2nd busiest airport. 

  • Getting to the city: All terminals are connected to a RER station (Regional Express Network) that serves Paris, and to a TGV station (High-Speed Train) from where you can mostly get anywhere in the country. Buses to Paris city centre and to Disneyland Paris are also at hand, as well as taxis and car rental agencies. Expect to pay around €60 for a 75-minute ride by taxi from CDG Airport to the city centre. 

Orly Airport

Orly is the second international arrival hub and busiest domestic airport in France. It’s located 17 km south of Paris. 

  • Getting to the city: Orly is linked to the city centre and other places around Paris by RER (Regional Express Network), bus and coaches. You can also rent a car and easily get to the city centre via the A106 highway connected to the airport. A transfer by taxi to the Paris downtown costs around €35 and takes about 40 minutes.

Beauvais-Tillé Airport 

Chances are that you’ll land in Beauvais-Tillé Airport if you travel on a charter or low-cost airline. The distance between this international airport and Paris is 85 km. 

  • Getting to the city: Coaches are at hand to reach the capital in about 80 minutes for the affordable fee of €17. You can also take a taxi to the closest train station 4 km away, so you’ll be in Paris in about 125 minutes for about €20. Last but not least, yet more expensive, a 70-minute taxi ride from Beauvais-Tillé Airport to Paris will cost you around €170.

Paris train stations

There are no less than 7 train stations in Paris. Each train station serves a specific geographical area according to its location in Paris:

  • Gare du Nord (North Station) is the most important train station. It directly connects Paris to London by the Eurostar. It also serves the north of France and Belgium. 
  • Montparnasse serves the west of France. 
  • Austerlitz serves central France and the southwest. 
  • Gare de l’Est serves the east of France, Germany and Switzerland. 
  • Gare de Lyon, southeast of France.
  • Saint-Lazare serves Normandy.
  • Bercy serves the south and southeast of France, and Italy.

TRAVEL TIPS for Getting around Paris

Get a Paris Visite Travel Pass to easily get around the city. Available for 1 up to 5 days, you’ll save a lot by using this convenient card that gives you access to metro, bus, tramway, RER and suburb train networks. The rates start at €12 per adult for a 1-day pass in Paris city centre. If you plan to visit many attractions, you can opt for a Paris Pass which, in addition to the public transports, allows you free entrance or great discounts to over 60 attractions and tours. Tickets and travel passes can be purchased from ticket vending machines and/or staffed counters in all of the metro, RER and tramway stations, certain bus stations and some convenience stores.

Inaugurated in 1900, Paris Metro (short for “The Paris Metropolitan Railway Company”) is one of the busiest subway systems in Europe. With 245 stations on a 90 sq km area, it’s also one of the densest in the world. 

  • A single ticket is valid on the metro and RER networks for 2 hours
  • There are 16 lines, all identified with numbers and colours, their direction is indicated by the name of the terminus station 
  • Trains run from 5.30am to 12.30am on week days, and up to 2.15am on weekends 

Additionally, Paris has a network of 69 bus lines. As convenient a mode of transport as the Metro, the advantage of a bus ride is that you can enjoy the views of Paris through the windows. 

  • A flat-rate, single-trip ticket is valid for 90 minutes on the bus network
  • You can buy a ticket from the driver if you don’t have one
  • Get on the bus at the front door, validate your ticket in the stamping machine or show your pass to the bus driver
  • Leave the bus through either the central or rear door
  • Bus stops all have maps to help you find a good route
  • All the lines are identified with numbers and colours, their direction is indicated by the name of the terminus station 
  • The Noctilien is the night bus service in Paris. It operates 48 bus lines between 12.30am and 5.30am

There are around 18,000 licensed taxis in Paris. You can also use the Uber application.

  • The easiest way to hail a cab is from 1 of the 500 taxi ranks available throughout Paris
  • It’s possible to hail a cab on the street if there’s no rank within 50 metres
  • Most licensed taxis take credit cards, but it’s better to ask the driver before you get in
  • Check out the rooftop of a taxi to instantly see if it’s free (green light) or busy (red light) 

Renting a car is not the best solution if you’re planning to stay in Paris city centre. Traffic is congested, car parks are scarce and parking fees can be expensive.

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