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Paris Taxis

How to use taxicabs in Paris, France

First, a confession: We haven't ridden a Parisian taxi in decades--not merely out of thrift, but because we'd rather walk or take the Métro, and traveling light with wheeled luggage makes cabs unnecessary most of the time. Just as important, using taxis can be frustrating (not to mention environmentally insensitive) in a city like Paris where traffic is often congested.

Paris taxi sign

ABOVE: A vacant taxi parisien in traffic.

Still, taxis do run 24 hours a day, unlike most forms of public transportation in Paris. And when you need a taxi, it's nice to know how the system works. Here, then, is a basic introduction to les taxis parisiens:

  • Paris and its suburbs have nearly 16,000 licensed taxis. Usually you won't have a problem finding a cab, as long as it isn't lunchtime, dinnertime, or rush hour on a rainy day. If you do require transportation at such times, don't want until the last minute to get a cab.

  • You can hire a taxi at any of the nearly 500 official cab stands or taxi ranks, by waving down a taxi from the curb, or by telephoning a cab stand or radio dispatcher. (Warning: If you call for a taxi, the meter will start when the driver heads for your pickup location--not after you get in the cab.)

  • Fares aren't cheap, but they aren't too bad with within the city. For example, a taxi from the Gare du Nord to the Marais might cost about €9, plus a 10-percent tip. Longer trips can be expensive: The fare from Charles de De Gaulle Airport to a hotel in central Paris could reach €40 to €50 plus tip, depending on traffic, the hotel's location, and whether you're traveling in the daytime or evening. (You'll be charged extra for luggage, baby strollers, and other bulky items, although wheehclairs are free.)

  • Be prepared to pay in cash, since drivers aren't required to accept credit or debit cards. (If the driver does take cards, the cab will have a sign in the back side window.)

  • It's illegal for taxis to pick up passengers in the street within 50 meters of a taxi stand. If you're near a taxi stand, walk to the stand and take the first cab in line.

  • Hire only licensed taxis--and if you're ripped off by an unlicensed cabbie, don't expect sympathy from the police.

Finally, here's how to know whether a taxi is vacant or unavailable:

  • Paris occupied taxi lightParis green taxi lightWith the new Paris taxi signs (introduced in 2011), a taxi's white roof sign is illuminated with green LEDs when the cab is vacant, and with red-amber LEDs if the cab is occupied or on its way to pick up a customer.

  • Old Paris taxi signWith the old Paris taxi signs (which are to be phased out by July, 2012), a taxi's white roof sign is lit up when the cab is free and turned off when the cab is unavailable.

  • The three small lights below the rooftop taxi sign are "fare lights" that show police which zone fare is being charged.

For more information on using taxis in Paris (including a list of taxi stands, a fare calculator, and other third-party resources), see the annotated Web links on the next page.

Next page: Taxi links


In this article:

Also see:
Paris Transportation - Index of articles

Top, 1st inset, 3rd inset photos copyright © Paris Tourist Office.
Photographer: Jacques Lebar.
4th inset photo copyright © Alexander Rybakov.

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