Getting around Paris with public transports metro, rer and velib
Aéroport Charles de Gaulle, (27kms from the city) is Paris main international airport receiving flights from the world over. Roissy Rail is the quickest way to the city. From there, you can take a free shuttle bus from the airport terminal to the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle RER (commuter rail) station. If you are arriving at the Aéroport d’Orly (16kms southwest of the city) which handles mostly domestic and European flights, your quickest option is the Orly Rail to the Left Bank. You can take a free shuttle bus to the Ponte de Rungis-Aèroport d’Orly RER station (C2 line) and get a train to the city. These trains run every 15 min.
Once in the City, then the games ain’t be easier! A piece of cake, so to say. The various lines, which make up France’s railway system, all meet in the centre of Paris, at Chatelet-Les-Halles, the largest metropolitan station in the world. Paris’ metropolitan is the best way to travel around the city. The system’s 14 lines cover the whole of the Paris area. They say that no point in Paris is more than 500m from a stop. Free metro maps are available at all tourist information centres and metro stations. A single ticket anywhere on the metro and zone one on the RER is €1.30 (2006) . A carnet of ten tickets is €9.30 and works out cheaper (2006).
If you are there for any length of time buy a weekly Travel Card or monthly Carte Orange (€15 in 2006). They are valid for travel on all forms of public transport and for unlimited rides. Avoid to be late at night at these stations: Chatelet, Chateau Rouge in Montmatre, Gare du Nord, Strasbourg-Saint Denis, Rèaumur-Sèbastopol and Montparnasse-Bienvenue.
Alternatively there’s the bus service which is also efficient and operates from 5:30am to 1am. Bus routes are indicated on the RATP maps (free from tourist agencies). Tickets can be bought from the driver but must be validated in the machine onboard. A night service called Noctambus operates after the underground from 1am till 5.50am with 18 lines terminating at Châtelet.
Another interesting ecologic transport now available in Paris is the Velib, a newly implemented self-service “bicycle transit system”. Considering that the city of Paris has over 371 km (230 miles) of cycling lanes, riding in Paris is simple and economic. Citizens and visitors are able to pick up and drop off bicycles throughout the city at 1451 locations.
There is a wide offer of up to 20,600 bikes with a Velib’ station approximately every 900 feet! Accessing the bikes couldn’t be easier also! Users can select a one-day card for 1 euro, a weekly card for 5 euros or an annual card for 29 euros. Once purchased the access card, riding for the first half-hour is free and a supplement of 1 euro will be charged for an additional half-hour, 2 euros for another 30-minutes and 4 euros for every addition half-hour after that. Example: a 25 minute trip = 0 euros, a 50 minute trip = 1 euro, an hour and 15-minute ride = 3 euros. In this way they wish to implement the use of the bike for little or brief journeys. To Try!
After a long day cycling or getting op-off buses and metro, you will be probably looking for a nice place to rest and a good place to have dinner. Regarding Paris accommodation, well there are many choices from budget to expencive ones. We believe there are some with a good price-quality ratio that can satisfy many travellers.
From the Blue Planet youth hostel, to a secret small studio in Place de Vichi, to boutique hotels offering colourful rooms, fresh ambience and private gardens where to enjoy breakfast. Prices range from 30-50 euros per person at Cecil hotel, Bac Saint Germain (in Latin quarter) or the Hotel du Parc Saint Charles. Taylor hotel, Des Artes hotel, Altona hotel, Mon Reve Hotel where they privilege amore familiar ambience and service.
For a typical French dinner you may try Chartier, an old metro station adapted to be a restaurant very nice and warm atmosphere. Frequented by locals and tourists. The food is good. Not excellent, but good and whatever you choose, it arrives in relatively generous portions in a matter of minutes. The list of wines is on the reasonable side of cheap. Be ready to wait as no reservations are taken ! (7, rue du Faubourg Montmartre; ph. +33 01.47.70.86.29. Open every day from 11:30am -3pm/ 6pm-10 pm).