Practical Information

Most of us know Paris is the capital of France, and one of the most beautiful cities in the world but…how does Paris work? Although a lot of this information is explained more in detail on other sections of our website (Choosing accommodations, Moving around Paris, Safety tips and precautions) and in our Practical Guide of Paris; here you’ll find a summary of what we consider will be the most practical and useful information for your trip.

  • Paris is the capital of France (we knew that!) and is located in the Île-de-France region (Island of France.)
  • The River Seine (La Seine) flows through the city forming an arc from East to West. The upper side of the arc, known as the “Rive Droite”, or right shore; and the lower part of the arc is known as the “Rive Gauche”, or left shore.
  • Paris “intra-muros” (or intramural, as in the city center with its 20 districts) has 2.5 million inhabitants.
  • La Banlieu: Inner-city Paris is surrounded by many small cities that have developed around it (because there isn’t room for everyone in the city center!) and in which 12.5 million people live; this is what is known as Paris’ suburbs. In French: La banlieu.
  • As far as transportation goes in the City of Lights and its suburbs (banlieu), it is very well connected:
    -5 commuter train lines ( A,B,C,D, and E)
    -14 metro lines
    -8 tramway lines
    -Over 350 bus lines
  • One ticket (be it metro, bus, tramway, or commuter train within the city center) is worth 1.90€. It is called a “t+” ticket and is valid for two hours on one method of transportation. (More information on this in our Moving around Paris section).
  • The metro hours during the week are as follows: from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. approximately. On weekends, it runs through 2 a.m. approximately.
  • The Paris Visite unlimited transportation ticket varies based upon the amount of days and zones you purchase, the least expensive one (1 day, zones 1-3) is worth 12€, and on the opposite end the 5-day pass is worth 38.50€. For more information visit our Moving around Paris section).
  • Paris has two main airports located in the suburbs:
    – Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG, also known as Roissy) located 23 km northeast of Paris. This is the largest airport and has many terminals
    – Orly Airport (ORY), situated 13 km south of Paris, this one is smaller and only has two terminals (South and West).
  • There is one other airport, called the Paris-Beauvais Airport (BVA), but it is located almost 70 km outside the city and you need to take a bus for about an hour and a half, the bus ticket is priced at 16€.
  • Catching a cab from an airport can cost between 30€-55€ (depending on which airport you arrive at and where you’re headed to). More information can be found in our Moving around Paris section.
  • Paris has many different train stations (or Gare in French) within the city, these connect Paris with other cities in and out of France.
    -Gare du Nord
    -Gare de l’Est
    -Gare d’Austerlitz
    -Gare de Lyon
    -Gare Saint-Lazare
    -Gare de Bercy
  • The entry fee for a museum are usually between 7-17€. Most places will offer free access to kids under the age of 15 or 18, otherwise they usually have special pricing. Proper I.D. is required (passport).
  • A sandwich is usually around 6€
  • A pizza: usually between 8-13€ (attention: in Europe, pizzas are usually individual (medium sized); they are usually split in 4 generous portions per person.
  • A coffee (espresso) is usually about 1€ at the counter and, “en salle”, meaning comfortably seated, it can easily cost double.
  • A full meal (starter, main, and dessert without drinks included) at your average brick-and-mortar restaurant can go for anywhere between 15-23€.
  • A sweet crêpe: usually priced at around 2.50-13€ (depending on the ingredients and the place).
  • A galette (savory crêpe): Approximately between 6-13€ (these too will depend on the ingredients and the place).
  • A baguette: about 1.10€
  • A beer at a café/bar: 4€ and up.
  • A movie ticket: Between 10-15€
  • A water bottle: at a restaurant 4€ or more. At a supermarket approximately between .98 cents and 2€.
  • The prices for food and beverage can change from one arrondissement to the next, or from one restaurant to another. Take this into account and look at the menu before going in, these prices will serve as a reference point of what is average, acceptable, expensive, or very expensive according to your budget.

The restaurants: In Paris, you’ll find restaurants of all different tiers and types, but generally you can eat well.

  • Restaurant hours vary according to what type of restaurant they are, or what tier: some of the best restaurant and fine-dining restaurant only open for about two to three hours around mid-day and two or three hours in the evening, reservation only.
  • There are many other types of restaurants (bistro, brasserie, etc.) with continuous service, which offer quality meals as well.
  • There are many “Tourist Trap” restaurants that usually specialize in French cuisine and offer good prices, however the quality of the food isn’t always the best. Check out what area of town they are located in and what kind of clients you see dining there.
  • The shops: Paris has a huge commercial offer in every tier. It is important to know that Parisian shops open around 10-11 a.m. and close between 7-8 p.m. (19h-20h). Some stores close at noon to take a break, and on Sunday’s there are limited shops in Paris that are open, depending on the area.
  • In France, credit cards are widely accepted as a form of payment (except for American Express, which they don’t always take). You can also pay in cash.
  • There are many holidays that are celebrated in France, so it is important that you know that on these days opening hours and schedules for transportation, restaurants, and some shops may be affected. Museums normally only close on the 1st of January, the 25th of December, and on the 1st of May (European Labor Day). In any case, this information should be looked into depending on what you plan on visiting. For more information, check out our blog.
  • Banks don’t handle cash. Everything is done directly on ATM machines (including cash deposits and/or withdrawals).
  • Plugs in Europe are different than those used in the American continent. Make sure you purchase a universal adapter for Europe so that you can charge/use your electronic devices. ATTENTION: be careful with the maximum voltage setting on your electronic devices, in the American continent the voltage is usually of around 110v to 120v while in most of Europe, Asia, and Africa, it is between 220v and 240v.
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