Getting around in France

by Andrea Segura - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

As you are planning your bicycle trip and beyond, you will certainly wonder how to best get around. We’re here to help and have put together some general information and tips for you. You will find tour-specific travel information in your Getting to and Away (GTA), which was emailed to you with your reservation confirmation. Note that any fares and timing mentioned are estimates. 

Note: Due to the frequency of social and labor strikes in France it is advised to verify the availability of your intended public transportation while within France and check the media for announcements of scheduled strikes. Most often this impacts rail travel, but at times does include taxi service. Especially check if you plan to use train travel to catch a flight.

Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

(Click on the + below to expand the details.)

To and From the Airport

  • By Bus: Air France buses will take you to several train stations in Paris
  • By Shuttle: The Blue Airport Shuttle provides service to downtown Paris. Rates are reasonable for two or more people if you reserve online in advance
  • By Taxi: Taxis to downtown Paris cost between € 50 and € 80 (status 2017).

By Shuttle from Charles De Gaulle to the Orly Airport:

  • Take the airport shuttle at Exit 22 on the departures level to the RER B station “Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1”.
  • Take the RER B direction Saint-Rémy les Chevreuse.
  • Get off at the “Antony” stop and take the “Orlyval” shuttle to the Orly airport.
  • The trip takes about an hour.

 

To and From the Airport

  • By Taxi: To downtown Paris cost between € 50 and € 80 (status 2017).
  • Train Transportation: This website describes French train travel in detail. It’s worth reading to save you money and frustration.

Trains in France

Schedules and Booking: High-speed (TGV) trains require a reservation. For other trains you don’t need to purchase tickets in advance, but you can if you wish. You may purchase TGV, first, and second class tickets online or from your travel agent or before you leave the U.S. In France, train schedules are available at train stations or travel agencies. Trains access most destinations in France, but note that there are differences in their services. Different types of trains offer different services. For instance:

  • The TGV requires a reservation and it is not possible to just “hop” on to the next train heading your direction. If you miss your train, you will need to exchange your reservation.
  • Regional and local trains, (including the RER), do not require a reservation. If you miss this type of train, simply catch the next departure. These trains are mainly second class.
  • Getting around in Paris: The RATP (Paris public transportation system) has a useful website for navigating the metro system within Paris, and even from the airport. For smart phones, Apple and Android have similar apps as well.

First Class or Second Class: Many customers prefer a first class ticket and seat reservation for train travel. First class is roomier, has fewer people, and helps you deal with jet lag. Second class is comfortable too, but can be more crowded. Either way, you can reserve your space in advance if you’d like.

Purchasing in Advance: We suggest buying TGV tickets online prior to your trip, but usually no more than 3 months in advance. For other trains, or for post-tour TGV, you can wait until you arrive if you wish. Once on tour, your Tour Leaders can assist you in making post tour train plans. Also, you may pay extra for tickets purchased in advance through the Internet. Contact reservations@experienceplus.com for assistance and questions.

If you do decide to make your arrangements ahead of time, we suggest using the following companies:

  • SNCF. French National Trains (Société Nationale de Chemins de Fer): www.sncf.com
  • Trainlin
  • Rail Europe (throughout Europe) (1-800-848- 7245).

Check schedule information and buy tickets on either site.

Note the following: Only Rail Europe will charge a booking fee. Certain types of SNCF pre-purchased tickets can be retrieved from ticket counters at your departure train station. You’ll need the credit card you reserved with and the 6-letter code you received when purchasing your ticket online. You can print some tickets from home, but these are generally non-refundable and non-exchangeable.

Train Travel Reminders

Traveling with your own bike: Bikes are allowed on all TER regional trains and some TGV trains that require special ticketing. If you see a bicycle symbol listed on the schedule next to your train that means it has a special car designed for storing bicycles. If your bicycle is packed into a special case (not a cardboard box) you can store it in the designated luggage areas on board provided that it does not restrict access to other passengers. You can also call the English-speaking service in France at 011-33-08-92-35-35-39, open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm (be aware of the time difference). Please contact our office if you have questions about bringing your own bike on tour.

Other Types of Transportation

Paris Metro System:

The Paris metro system is the best method to travel around Paris. It’s made up of:

  • Metro trains: On these internal Paris trains each line is a different color and number. The directions are identified by the last stop on the line, so board the train whose final destination is the same direction as your stop.
  • RER trains: These trains go to the airports and farther out of the city. The different lines have letter names (A through E).
  • Buses: Local buses in Paris are also a good way to see the city.

You catch RER, metro trains, and buses from the same stations – (buses also have extra stops above ground). Bus and metro trains cost the same and use the same tickets, while RER trains generally cost more. Buy tickets for all three at all metro stations. Pick up a free Petit Plan de Paris metro map and/or look at RATP for information on the Paris mass transit system.

Other ways to get around France

  • Taxis: Taxis wait outside airports and medium to large size train stations. In smaller towns, the café or bar will often call for you. It is good practice to ask for an approximate fare before the ride and the pay meter start. Keep in mind that the cost may vary depending on traffic in the city. Taxis from both Paris airports to the center of cost between €50 – €90 (status 2017) and take between 30-60 minutes depending on traffic.
  • Rental Car: You usually save money arranging your rental from the U.S. Be sure to get the exact address of the rental car agency, (preferably at your arrival airport). Most rental agencies in France are closed on Sundays. We suggest Sixt or Hertz.
  • Bayeux Shuttle: Shuttle service in the Normandy region that also conducts airport transfers to Paris. Good for larger groups.

Orly Airport in Paris

Paris Orly Airport (ORY)

There are several transportation options to reach downtown Paris. Follow signs to the Orlyval shuttle which will take you to the Antony station. From there you can catch the RER B train to downtown Paris.

(Click on the + below to expand the details.)

To and From the Airport

  • By Taxi: To downtown Paris cost between € 50 and € 80 (status 2017).
  • Train Transportation: This website describes French train travel in detail. It’s worth reading to save you money and frustration.

Other Types of Transportation

(Click on the + below to expand the details.)

Trains in France

If you do decide to make your arrangements ahead of time, we suggest using the following resources:

Train Travel Reminders

Traveling with your own bike: Bikes are allowed on all TER regional trains and some TGV trains that require special ticketing. If you see a bicycle symbol listed on the schedule next to your train that means it has a special car designed for storing bicycles. If your bicycle is packed into a special case (not a cardboard box) you can store it in the designated luggage areas on board provided that it does not restrict access to other passengers. You can also call the English-speaking service in France at 011-33-08-92-35-35-39, open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm (be aware of the time difference). Please contact our office if you have questions about bringing your own bike on tour.

Paris Metro System

The Paris metro system is the best method to travel around Paris. It’s made up of:

  • Metro trains: On these internal Paris trains each line is a different color and number. The directions are identified by the last stop on the line, so board the train whose final destination is the same direction as your stop.
  • RER trains: These trains go to the airports and farther out of the city. The different lines have letter names (A through E).
  • Buses: Local buses in Paris are also a good way to see the city.

You catch RER, metro trains, and buses from the same stations – (buses also have extra stops above ground). Bus and metro trains cost the same and use the same tickets, while RER trains generally cost more. Buy tickets for all three at all metro stations. Pick up a free Petit Plan de Paris metro map and/or look at RATP for information on the Paris mass transit system.

Taxis

Taxis wait outside airports and medium to large size train stations. In smaller towns, the café or bar will often call for you. It is good practice to ask for an approximate fare before the ride and the pay meter start. Keep in mind that the cost may vary depending on traffic in the city. Taxis from both Paris airports to the center of cost between €50 – €90 and take between 30-60 minutes depending on traffic.

Rental Car

You usually save money arranging your rental from the U.S. Be sure to get the exact address of the rental car agency, (preferably at your arrival airport). Most rental agencies in France are closed on Sundays. We suggest Sixt or Hertz

Bayeux Shuttle

Shuttle service in the Normandy region that also conducts airport transfers to Paris. Good for larger groups. Find more information here.

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