Paris may very well be the most scenic and charming city in the world. Its historic beauty is legendary, and its artistic atmosphere makes it an enlightening area to explore. If you have already been there, you are certainly familiar with the nearly indescribable feeling one gets when experiencing Paris. But if you are planning your first trip to la Ville des Lumieres, you are in for an unforgettable experience you will remember forever.
This guide is designed to explain the best transportation options for getting around Paris, and help you decide which one will fit your specific needs. You will most likely use a combination of multiple options in order to get the most out of your trip, and each of these five ways has its own pros and cons for different situations. Even though Paris will always leave you wanting more, this should help you take in as much of the city as possible during your stay.
Because of Paris’s unique characteristics, much of the city is best experienced on foot. More so than just about any city in Europe, Paris has its own personality, and one needs to be able to take in all the little sights, smells and sounds to really grasp the full experience. Walking the streets of Paris provides you with the most personal way to take in all the subtleties of the city, but it is probably impractical to spend your entire vacation on foot.
Perhaps the most popular and overall efficient mode of transportation is the Parisian Metro system. It is affordable, fast and provides the best way to travel long distances quickly. There are nearly 300 total stations, and you will be able to get within a short distance of anywhere in the city much more quickly than if you depend upon street traffic.
Even if you are new to France and do not speak the language, the simple color-coding system allows you to understand the easily accessible maps and plan your trip perfectly. The only real downsides to the Metro are the same as the drawbacks of any subway system. It is crowded and uncomfortable, but you cannot beat this method for efficiency or value.
The bus system in Paris is one of the largest and most popular public transportation systems in Europe. Due to its size, it is also one of the more complex transportation options and can be difficult to understand easily if you are an outsider. The maps and color system are similar to the Metro, but there are many more stops and more opportunities for tourists to get lost.
The main advantage that buses provide over the Metro is the fact that they are above-ground. This allows you to actually see the scenic city that you came to see, and it can help you to get your bearings around the town.
The best option for many people will be to simply use a taxi service to get around town. This provides the highest level of convenience, by far, but that convenience comes at a higher price. However, the cost will be worth it to anyone with specific needs that cannot be met by the more public methods.
“Getting a taxi in Paris is slightly different than somewhere like New York,” says one of the managers in BookTaxiParis. “Although there are stands at certain areas and some cars that can be hailed, it is much more common and efficient to book your taxi in advance, online or by phone.”
If you want a transportation option that is faster than walking but still allows you to experience all of Paris personally, a simple bicycle could be the best option. Velib bicycles are available to rent at automated stands all around the city and provide a fun, healthy alternative to motorized transportation.
No matter which option you choose, there are more than enough modes of transportation to fit any need or situation. Mix, match and plan a perfect Paris vacation to explore and experience the City of Lights.