Taxis are still a good way to get around Paris. We love the affordability and reach of the Metro and RER, but for convenience it's hard to beat a cab.
In the past, finding a Paris taxi could be a bit of a challenge — you couldn't hail a cab on the street, but had to find a designated taxi stand and wait there until one of the 15,500 Paris taxis arrived. But we've noticed a loosening of the rules and we often see people hailing a taxi on the street. In fact, it seems that drivers can pick up riders who hail them down, as long as they are more than fifty metres away from a taxi stand. The bottom line — it's fairly easy to hail a cab.
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Taxi near the Arc de Triomphe. The lighted sign indicates the cab in available. (The light might also be green.)
The chances of finding a cab at an official taxi stand vary. Some of the stands always have taxis waiting — near the big hotels, by popular attractions, around the busiest squares. At other stands cab availability is spotty; you may find yourself waiting a while. If so, walk to the nearest busy street and hail a cab from the curb. To spot an available cab look for a car with the "TAXI" sign on top of the car lit up.
At the airports and the train stations there are taxi valets that keep the passenger line moving forward and point you to your taxi. If you're disable or have a small child, the valet will wave you to the front of the line. It's very civilized, there's no crowding or shoving.
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Cabs lined up at a taxi stand.
The meter starts at about 2.20€ and the minimum fare is about 6.00€. There's also something called an approach price. This applies when you arrange for a taxi to come to your hotel or apartment. You will be charged for the journey to get to you. By the way, if you have to get to the airport in the morning, be sure to order your taxi the day before.
Taxis in Paris generally do not take credit cards, so be prepared to pay in cash. If you do want to try to pay with a credit card from the airport, always ask the cab driver if they accept cartes bancaires before you jump in. But, to avoid problems, try to make sure you bring about 100€ with you to Paris.
One exception to the credit card rule is Taxi G7, where all cars take credit cards. There is an English-language website and even and English-language phone number where you can order up a cab, even in advance.
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There are now flat rates for getting from the airports (including) Charles de Gaulle to central Paris. From CDG to a Right Bank address the rate is about €50. To the Left Bank the rate is about €55. You might want to clear this up with your driver before you leave the airport by saying "fifty euros?" or something like that.
The introduction of flat rates from the airport are a definite improvement. Previously, rates could climb pretty high when traffic was slow, because the rate is based on both time and distance. Remember, if you reserve a taxi in advance (such as at G7), you'll have to pay an extra reservation and pickup fee in addition to the fare. However, it isn't necessary to book a taxi in advance — at the airport you'll find plenty of them at the clearly-designated taxi stands.
Don't do what a friend of ours did. (We won't mention any names, but you know who we're talking about, Tony.) He accepted a ride from a scam artist who approached him inside the airport, not at the official taxi stand. Our friend got to his hotel all right, but he managed to pay about three times the going rate! Always check to make sure the taxi has a meter and a visible taxi sign on the roof. And always find the official line up at the T taxi sign with the valet working the line. (This scam is only pulled at the airports and train stations.)
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Many taxi drivers in Paris speak a little English, but it's always a good idea to have a pen and paper to write down the address. There are many similar sounding streets and you could wind up across town. (Especially if you have dubious French accents, like we do.)
A good tip is to print out small slips of paper with the name and address of your hotel (or your apartment address) before you leave home. That way if you are not confident in speaking French, you can politely hand the driver one of the slips, with a "Nous allons ici, s'il vous plait". (We are going here, please).
And, please, don't forget Parisian politeness. Say "bonjour, monsieur" or "bonjour, madame" when you get in and "merci, au revoir" when you leave.
There are no amateur taxi drivers in Paris, it's a serious profession. Drivers are professionals who have successfully passed exams controlled by the Paris police department. In general, we've found Paris taxis to be cleaner and the drivers more professional than in many other cities.
Taxis cannot charge extra for up to four passengers, a fifth passenger will entail an extra charge. There is no longer an additional charge for luggage. There is no charge for wheelchairs. Remember, you don't need to tip your taxi driver in Paris, it's already included in the price, but it's polite to round the fare up to the next Euro.
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