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What you need to know about taking a taxi in Paris

Paris taxi drivers have been the centre of several overcharging scandals in recent years - here's what you need to know about taking a taxi in Paris and how to avoid getting ripped off.

What you need to know about taking a taxi in Paris
Photo: AFP

Although most taxi drivers in Paris are perfectly friendly and honest, there are unfortunately some rogue operators, such as the man who landed two tourists with a whopping €247 taxi bill from Charles de Gaulle airport into Paris.

So here's what you need to know to about taxis in the French capital to help you avoid getting scammed.

Avoid illegal taxis 

If you're travelling from an airport, both Paris airports have official taxi ranks with staff directing passengers into the next available car.
However many unofficial taxi drivers hang around airports and train stations, including Gare du Nord, to try to pick up customers. Passengers are advised to avoid any offers for a taxi from people waiting at arrivals. 
Instead you should head to the official taxi rank or use a ride-hailing app like Uber, Taxify or Chauffeur Privé (there are others too) to reserve a cab.
If you're travelling around the French capital itself, you can also head to taxi ranks or simply hail one in the street. Look out for taxis with the green light on the roof which means they are free. A red light means they occupied. You are not allowed to hail a private-hire cab or an Uber, known as a VTC (Vehicle de Tourisme avec chauffeur)

VIDEO: Tourists in Paris warned after couple told to pay €247 taxi bill from CDG airport

Photo: AFP
Identifying an official Paris taxi 
A official taxi will have a sign on top that says “Taxi Parisien” and this will be lit up if the taxi is available and there will be a plate on the outside of the vehicle (front right wing) showing the taxi's license number
Once inside you will see a metre on a very obvious display in the front of the car. 
However unlike in other cities Paris taxis are not a uniform colour or model. 
Airport flat rate fee
If you're travelling from the Charles de Gaulle airport to the city centre by an official taxi (not Uber), you'll pay €58 for a trip heading anywhere on the Left Bank and €53 for anywhere on the Right Bank.
If you're coming in from Orly airport, it will be €32 for the Left Bank and €37 for the Right Bank.
The government has decided on these fares and there are similar fixed rates for official taxis in Nice, Cannes, Antibes and Toulouse. A full list can be found on their website.
However prices will vary and will often be higher if you use VTCs or ride-hailing apps like Uber and Chauffeur Privé, whose prices are not fixed by the law.
For example a company like Uber says its prices are fixed for trips from the airports to Paris (see table below for fees) however the notorious “surge pricing” – when prices rise due to demand (known as marjoration in French) – means the rides are often more expensive and work out pricier than a normal Paris cab, particularly during a strike when services are very busy.
The fixed tariffs are in place even if it's a public holidays or weekend, as well as if the journey is at rush hour or it is nighttime.
Different rates
There are different rates according to the time of day and whether it is a bank holiday or not. 
Tariff A is from 10 am to 5 pm except on Sundays and public holidays, with the price per kilometre set at €1.07 and a maximum hourly rate at €35.80 (if the speed is less than 31.79 km/h).
Tariff B is in effect from 5 pm to 10 pm (rush hour and nighttime) and Sundays from 7 am to midnight, as well as public holidays the whole day. The price for this tariff is €1.29 per kilometre, with an hourly rate of €38  (if the speed is less than 28,89 km/h). 
Last but not least is tariff C which is in place on Sundays from 12 am to 7am, with a price of  €1.56 per kilometre and an hourly rate of €35.70 (if the speed is less than 21.76 km/h).
Fixed fares: Do Paris taxi drivers have a point?
Photo: AFP
What about private hire cabs/Uber  (VTCs)
Prices for taxi apps and private hire firms can vary according to demand so during strikes the prices tend to rocket.
At least you should know in advance how much you will likely pay.
“If dynamic pricing is not activated during a peak period, waiting times increase exponentially and the number of journeys made drops dramatically,” said a spokesman for Uber to justify the spike in the cost of a trip during transport strikes.
Technically you have to book VTCs at least 15 minutes ahead of your journey although often they are available through the apps much quicker than this.
However it's definitely not possible to hail one in the street instead it is mandatory to go to the website or mobile app to book.

Taxi drivers will be able to charge for supplementary passengers once the number goes above four, which would mean a cost of €4 per extra passenger.
And there will also be a flat rate for the cost of reserving a taxi from airports in future – €4 for an immediate reservation and €7 if it is booked in advance.
It is up to you if you want to tip but a tip will not be automatically added to the bill. 
Minimum price
The minimum price you will pay for a taxi in Paris is €7.10. 
A taxi driver in France can refuse payment by cheque however a taxi must be equipped with a payment terminal and, according to the law, payment by credit card cannot be refused.
Even though this is what the law says many taxi drivers will tell you their card machine is broken because they prefer you to pay in cash so for convenience sake it's best to take enough money on you to pay. 
On the other hand, if you're taking a VTC like Uber you will pay with your credit card or via the app. 
Special rules for private hire cabs (VTCs)
Technically you have to book VTCs at least 15 minutes ahead of your journey although often they are available through the apps much quicker than this.
However it's definitely not possible to hail one in the street instead it is mandatory to go to the website or mobile app to book.
As soon as the cost of a taxi journey goes above €25, the passenger(s) should be given a receipt. 
Below this price, it is up to the driver to decide whether to issue a receipt unless the passenger asks for one in which case it should be provided.

Member comments

  1. Hello,
    We took a taxi from CDG and it was to make two stops (one in the 5th and one in the 4th). I noticed about 10 minutes into the ride that he had his meter on rather than the flat rate. He said that was because there were two stops. Is that correct? I hadn’t heard this before and was prepared to tip more or to pay from the 1st stop to the 2nd stop. Instead, because we were stuck in airport traffic, we ended up paying 90 euros via the meter. Thank you.

  2. We often take a taxi to a hotel at CDG to stay overnight before a morning departure the next day. *Most* drivers will charge you the flat fee, but some try to charge you a meter rate – which is usually higher. To avoid this, we always tell the diver to take us to Terminal 2F, then as we come onto the airport grounds, redirect to the hotel. It’s too late for the driver to argue or try to scam you then.

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro