Getting Around Paris

Paris has two major international airports; Charles de Gaulle (also known as Roissy) is 26 kms northeast of Paris and Orly is 16 kms south of the city. It doesn't really matter which one you fly into; both are easily accessible from Paris, though Roissy is the only one with a TGV (high-speed train) station. Shuttle buses operate regularly from both airports to the city.

The French railway network (operated by the state-run SNCF) is comprehensive and relatively cheap compared to most European countries. The network includes suburban, regional and national and international lines. The SNCF operates a high speed train (TGV) service linking most French regions between themselves and with Paris.

The TGV is a speedy (it travels at around 250 kph) and cheaper inter-city transport alternative to the plane. International TGV services also link Paris with London, Brussels and Amsterdam. Due to the excellent train service, long-distance bus services into Paris are practically non-existent.

Linking France and the United Kingdom, a boat or ferry trip across the Channel can range from a mere 35 minutes (via hovercraft) to 95 minutes (via ferryboat). Trip length also depends on your departure point. Driving distances from the various French ports to Paris are as follows: from Calais, 290 km; from Boulogne, 243 km; from Le Havre 230 km.

Paris is criss-crossed with publicly run services by bus, underground (Métro) and overhead rail and trams, which are all grouped under one authority, called the RATP. You can buy one-journey tickets or the cheaper travel passes which allow you to use any of the services as often as you please. The Paris Métro serves every small neighbourhood in the capital. It runs from 5.30am until 00.30am and the average frequency of metro trains is about every five minutes.

Taxis in Paris are generally reliable. They can be hailed in the street, at the numerous taxi ranks found in every district or booked by phone. Taxis are metered, but for especially long journeys it is common to ask for a fixed price (un forfait).