You’ve probably heard this before: do not plan to drive in Paris. Correct! Parking is a challenge, and cars coming onto larger thoroughfares from side streets on the right have the right of way (and they insist upon it). Getting behind the wheel does seem to bring out rude, aggressive and sometimes homicidal behavior in people who otherwise act normally.
(If you are driving out of Paris, you’ll need to pay special attention to the drivers on motorcycles and motorbikes who weave in and out of traffic. Also, pedestrians have the right of way in walkways that are frequently not marked with lights.)
But you won’t miss having a car in Paris, because public transportation is excellent and reasonably priced. You have a few options: if you do not plan on using public transportation except
occasionally over a period of several days, you can buy a “carnet” which is a set of ten tickets, good for use on either the buses or metro. For most people two alternative options are recommended:
A day ticket: Mobilis allows unlimited travel on metro and bus. If you are going to limit your travel to Paris intramuros, then at the current price of 6,60 Euros, this is a deal.
A travel pass: Paris Visite, which allows unlimited travel on metro and bus for 1, 2 , 3 or 5 days, including some special offers. If you plan to visit the near suburbs as well, then this might be the right choice.
A NAVIGO card: This card gives you unlimited travel on metro and bus on a weekly or monthly basis and can be renewed as needed. A card costs 19,80 Euros per week, or 65,10 Euros for a month. There is a one-time fee of 5 Euros when you purchase the card.
Remember to keep metro tickets separate from your keys, credit cards and small change, to avoid their being de-magnetized.
If the weather is nice, a fun way to get around the heart of Paris is by traveling on the Seine, using the Batobus (http://www.batobus.com/english/Batobus-navettes-promenade-paris-seine-escales.htm) .
This is a boat ride that stops near eight of the major tourist attractions, for example, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs-Elysees, and gives you another view of Paris. A day pass costs 15 Euros, a two-day pass costs 18 Euros. If you combine this with one of the above travel passes, you can really make the most of your scenic time spent in Paris!
You may have read that Paris has the biggest bike-sharing system in the world, with 20 000 bikes available for rent. (See http://en.velib.paris.fr/ to learn more). This is indeed another great way to visit Paris BUT if you are using a US bankcard, keep reading!
CAVEAT: US bankcards, which normally do not have a microchip, will not work at the automatic ticket machines found in train stations and at the Velib kiosks. Solution: for the bus and metro ticket options described above, you will need to pay cash. All the automatic machines take coins, but if you are using bills, make sure that the machine has a slot for bills. So you’ll need to plan on a visit to a bank ATM machine. Speaking of which, some banks have partnership agreements with the large French banks for reduced or no fee transactions when using their ATM machines, so check with your bank before you leave.
As for Velib, if you do not have a card with a chip, you can now buy a one-day or seven-day ticket online: http://en.velib.paris.fr/How-it-works. Another option is go to the following bike rental shops, where English is spoken:
Paris a Velo c’est Sympa , 22 rue Alphonse Baudin, Paris 11, (+33 (0)1 48 87 60 01), Metro : Richard Lenoir (Line 5) ; Sebastien Froissart (Line 8) www.parisvelosympa.com
Paris Bike Tour, 38 rue de Saintonge, Paris 3, (Tel : +33 (0)1 42 74 22 14) Metro : Filles du Calvaire (Line 8) ; Republique (Lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11) www.pari sbiketour. net
You can also rent bikes at both the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne in the west of Paris. Metro: Sablons (Line 1) and the Bois de Vincennes in the southeast corner. Metro: Porte Doree (Line 8).