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Travel Tips: Taxis in Paris

Recently I found a great page on David Lebovitz’s blog that covers some of the issues surrounding cabs in Paris.   I am not at all a fan of the taxi system here, which is different than most other major cities.  If you’re from NYC or visit there often, you’ll be especially surprised at how different the cab culture is here.  If you’re visiting Paris and planning to use taxis to get around, definitely check out this article first!  A few of the most important notes:

1.  The percentage of taxis available relative to the amount of people wanting a taxi is low.  Paris is no NYC, where every street is packed with available cabs.  Taxi drivers often work regular working hours, so finding a cab early in the morning or late at night (or during lunch and dinner times) can be difficult.   Same with weekends.  If there is a big event going on such as a protest, sporting event, or holiday, forget about it.

2.  When you call a cab, the meter starts running immediately, so there will already be a fare on the meter before you get in.  Make sure to give your exact location or you may end up paying an extra 10-20 Euro while your driver roams around looking for you.  Some companies also charge a 1-5 Euro fee to reserve a cab online or by phone.

3.  There is a minimum fare of 6.60, so if you only need a short ride, expect to pay at least that much.

4.  Tip is already included in the price.  You don’t need to pay anything more than the fare unless you get especially good service.  Most cabs can provide change for small bills but not larger bills like 50’s or 100’s.

5.  Most cabs do not accept credit cards.  Theoretically all G20 cabs do take cards, but often they will tell you their machine is “broken” so that you’re forced to use cash.  If you are paying by CC, make sure to ask the driver before getting in if he accepts cards.

6.  Don’t expect your driver to know where your hotel is or how to get there.  Make sure you always have the address you’re heading to.  Most taxis have a GPS and they will enter the destination address before leaving.

7.  Taxis have a light on top of their car.  If the light is red, they are booked or unavailable.  If the light is green, they are available.  Technically taxis are not allowed to pull over just anywhere, they are supposed to go to the nearest taxi stand.  Most of the time they will pick you up anywhere regardless, but if there is a cop nearby or if you’re near a major intersection, you should try to find the nearest taxi stand.  Look for a big blue sign that says “Taxi.”

Kyle - Oh oh oh! I have something useful to contribute to this discussion! They also charge you for suitcases in the trunk. Not all of them, but I asked around and it’s not totally abnormal. Damn Parisian taxies!

Ling - Oh that would drive me nuts. I used to live in NY and while cabs there are notorious for bad driving, there was a pretty good system going on and lots of options.

stacy - Yes, it can be rather frustrating! Cabs are definitely my least favorite way to get around in Paris, but they’re good in a pinch when you’re loaded down with fun new purchases!

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