Getting around in France
Many large cities across have an international airport: Paris of course, but also Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Strasbourg, Toulouse .
These cities are are also well served by domestic flights. Air France, the national airline, offers several flights per day between Paris and most large cities, the average flight time being one hour. Flights between provincial cities are also possible.
When transferring through Paris, it is important to know that your connecting train may depart from a different station. There are 5 main train stations in Paris (Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d'Austerlitz and Gare Montparnasse) each of which can be easily found on the Paris Métro or RER network.
There are several ways of getting to France and by ferry is one. Several operators run regular services to
France from the UK and Ireland. Check out the full list of ferry services here for the
best routes across the water and the lowest fares. Plus, for those looking to explore further into the Mediterranean, then there are also regular ferries to Corsica from ports such as Nice, Toulon and Marseille.
Eurolines have a strong, developed network and cover all major European capitals from Paris by coach. They also have an extensive national network within France, covering 224 French destinations, offering another alternative for getting around in France.
Most French cities have a "gare routière" - a coach
station - with regular services within the region, and sometimes
further afield. But for travel between regions, a train is your best bet
since inter-regional bus services are limited. Buses are used quite
extensively for short-distance travel within "départements", especially
in rural areas with relatively few train lines.
To drive in France, you must be in possession of: A) your national driving license (if you're not an EU citizen, you must have your international driving license); B) a certificate of registration, which is called "la carte grise" in France, and C) a certificate of insurance .
If your stay in France is for less than 6 months, you can travel freely with your car around the country. You can also rent a car in France. You will be able to find rental companies at each airport and in most train stations in the country. If your stay in France is greater than 6 months you must change your license and have you car inspected.
Here are some road rules to respect whilst driving in France:
- The speed limit is 50km/h (30mph) in cities, 90km/h (60mph) in regional areas and 130km/h (78mph) on motoways unless indicated otherwise.
- The minimum driving age is 18.
- In France, you drive on the right hand side of the road.
- Seatbelts are a requirement by law and must be fastened by passengers in the front as well as in the back of the vehicule at all times.
- The use of a mobile phone while driving is illegal unless in use with Bluetooth or handsfree.
- The maximum blood alcohol limit is 0.5mg/mL
- The use of psychoactives whilst driving is strictly prohibited.
- It is recommended to have your headlights on low during the day.
- It is mandatory to have a high-visibility vest and hazard triangle in your car at all times in case of emergency.
Attention! As a foreign national committing an infraction under the French Road Code, you will be subject to a fine under the discretion of the state prosecuter. Otherwise, it is possible that your vehicule will be impounded. The charges related thereto will be those of the driver of the vehicule at the time of the infraction.
In Paris, the métro is the fastest and most practical way of getting around: 15 métro lines and 5 RER lines criss-cross the city and suburbs - ask for a free map at any ticket counter. The five lines (A, B, C, D and E) of the RER (Regional express network) cross Paris and the Ile-de-France during the same times as the metro. Please note that outside Paris ticket charges are not the same.
Paris métro ticket prices:
- Carnet of 10 tickets: 12.70 €
- Single ticket: 1.70 €
- Paris-visite ticket (unlimited travel for the chosen period): 1 day: 10.25 €, 2 days: 16.65 €, 3 days: 22.70 € or 5 days: 32.70 €
Trains run between 5.30am and around 12.30am. Later than that, you can choose between taxis, "Noctambus" night buses "Noctilien".
Several cities in France (Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Lille, Rennes etc) have their own métro or tram system and all cities offer a rather expansive bus network. You will find that for the larger French cities, all the relevant information is available on their dedicated websites.
- Paris et Ile-de-France: Transilien SNCF
- Lille: Transpole
- Strasbourg: Compagnie des transports Strabourgeois
- Nantes: Transports en commun de l'agglomération Nantaise
- Rennes: Service de transport en commun de Rennes
- Lyon: Transports en commun Lyonnais
- Marseille: Régie des transports de Marseille
- Bordeaux: Tram et bus de la communauté urbaine de Bordeaux
- Toulouse: Transports en commun de l'agglomération Toulousaine
Taxis are a common mode of transport in France, especially in the bigger cities. There are, for example, nearly 16,000 taxis in Paris. Taxis can be found at marked taxi ranks, booked online, over the phone or simply hail one in the street.
In order to determine if a taxi is available or not, you must refer to the alluminated white box situated on its roof: if it is lit red, then it's occupied; if it is lit green, then it's available.
Here are some guidelines for when you can't hail a taxi:
- If it is less than 50m from a taxi rank.
- If it is found in a bus lane.
- If it is already reserved (signal box is lit white)
Since June of 2007 in Paris, a unique number to call (01 45 30 30 30) has been in place allowing you to call taxis equipped with a terminal. Through an automated assistant, you can choose which arrondisement and station is the nearest to you. If the station then doesn't respond, you will be automatically connect to a second or third in proximity.
You can equally reserve your taxi through internet and phone taxi services. In order to find out all the information oncerning the rates of taxis in France, please refer to the "tarifs" or rates section of the Taxis of France website as a guide. Rates will depend on the area, time of day, distance travelled and number of passengers for each trip.
Limousines and private cars
Do you prefer to get around in chauffeur driven cars? If so, then there are maany companies likely to offis this service, here are a few:
- AAA Elite Limousines
- Chabé Limousines
- Côte d'Azur Limousines
- First Limousine
- Massey - Compagnie de Limousines
Bicycles, Roller And Segway ®
The city of Paris, just like many big cities in France, promotes the use of green engines and two-wheeled vehicles, as well as extending the lanes for cyclists and roller-bladers. A large-scale public bicycle sharing system is set up in several cities like Paris and Nice in France. The same system exists in Nice for cars and it will exist in the urban area of Paris (Autolib’) in 2012.
- Vélib' (from 1.70€/day) and Autolib' in Paris.
- Vélos Bleus (from 1€/day) and Autos Bleus in Nice.
- Vélo'V in Lyon
- VélôToulouse in Toulouse
- Vcub in Bordeaux
- Vélo star in Rennes.
Hitch-hiking is probably one of the cheapest ways of getting around, but also the most unpredictable. If you're prepared to pay a modest fee for the journey, the Allostop association or Covoiturage can put you in touch with a driver going your way - a good way to avoid getting cramp in your thumb…
By far the easiest and most effective way to explore a town or city. If you've got some time to spare, 180,000 signposted footpaths branch off across the whole country, and it's impossible to get lost - unless you go out of your way to do so. In towns, special signs for visitors on foot are becoming more and more widespread, and some quarters are even entirely pedestrianised. Put your best foot forward…
French Federation of Hicking
Parking For Coaches / Recreational Vehicles
The parking for tourism coaches and for recreational vehicles, including caravans and converted buses, is regulated. Before parking in a city or at a tourist site, please check with the local tourist office for more information on the regulations for that area...