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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.
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 18,000 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
(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 €10, plus a 10-percent tip. Longer trips can be
expensive: The fare from Charles de De Gaulle Airport to a hotel in central
Paris is €50 or more, depending on location.
You'll normally 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:
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.
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 below.
Tourist Office: Taxis and chauffer-driven vehicles
This detailed page is from the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau's Web site.
The largest taxi company in Paris represents some 3,000 drivers. It accepts telephone calls and online bookings.
Calculate an estimated fare before you call for a cab. (You can enter street addresses or pick from a list of airports, train stations, and tourist landmarks.)
This site includes a list of Parisian taxi ranks (a.k.a. cab stands) with phone numbers, taxi fares and surcharges, and other useful information.
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Copyright © 1996-2020 Durant and Cheryl Imboden. All rights reserved.
Top, 1st inset, 3rd inset photos copyright © Paris
Photographer: Jacques Lebar.
4th inset photo copyright © Alexander Rybakov.