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The alternatives to taking taxis when visiting Paris

If you want to avoid high fees or the possibility of getting ripped off by unlicensed drivers, Paris has several start-ups that offer alternatives to traditional taxis.

The alternatives to taking taxis when visiting Paris
A taxi with a taxi sign in Paris (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Taking a taxi in Paris can sometimes be a harrowing experience – it certainly was for Fergus Shepherd, who was visiting Paris with his wife and children during the half term holiday and was unpleasantly surprised to find a charge for €890 on his credit card. Shepherd believes it was linked to short taxi ride he took between two of Paris’s most famous tourist spots.

While it is not certain that Shepherd’s charge was linked to his Paris taxi ride, many tourists in France’s capital have been targeted by scams related to taxi services. Most often, these are perpetrated by unlicensed drivers – especially at airports and train stations – who charge rip-off fares.

READ MORE: Paris tourist says trip ruined by ‘€890 taxi fare’

While the city of Paris has been attempting to clamp down on unlicenced drivers in recent months, tourists and locals alike might be looking for safe alternatives to Paris taxis. 

Uber

The one that everyone knows, Uber is available in Paris although you might find it more expensive than in cities like London (because the drivers are employees and therefore entitled to social benefits). It’s available in the city and the suburbs, although there are sometimes long waits and if you take one on a strike day it’s highly likely that the fares will be hiked.

G7

This service will connect you with an official Paris taxi – the same ones that you can hail in the street, but the app allows you to book up to 30 days in advance, so it’s handy for late night or early morning airport runs. It also has an option to select ‘pet friendly’ if you’re travelling with an animal. 

Payment works in the same way as Uber – users save their credit card information on the app and therefore do not need to pay on board.  At the conclusion of the ride, the fare will be charged and the user will receive a voucher by email. 

If you do not want to download the app, you can also call the phone number listed on their website.

Bolt

This ride-share app operates very similarly to Uber, in that you can call a car at the moment you need one. You can also set it up so that there are multiple stops, if needed. 

If you share the application with a friend, or they share it with you, then you might be entitled to a discount on your next ride.  Also, if you are travelling for business, Bolt has an option for how to expense your work rides by creating a “work profile” on the application so that it knows to send receipts to your work email, as well as to provide monthly reports with ride details.

In France, this type of ride share application is called a “VTC” or “Véhicule de Tourisme avec Chauffeur.

Marcel – Le VTC à la française 

This French ride-share company has received accolades for its commitment to environmental protection, specifically the promise that all CO2 emissions will be offset via the Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Goodplanet Foundation. Additionally, most drivers operate electric or hybrid vehicles. 

When you log onto the application, you can choose to either “plan a trip” or “leave now.” Keep in mind that planning a trip in advance might be slightly more expensive than the option to “leave now.”

To use Marcel you can go to the website or download one of the mobile apps for Android or iOS (iPhone, iPad).

Heetch

Heetch – a play on words with the English expression “hitchhike” – is also a French ride share company. The start-up begin in 2013, and it was originally intended to be specifically for people returning home from nightclubs, so it was only available for use between 8pm and 6am from Thursday to Saturday.

Since then, the application has adapted to be available at all times of day, every day of the week. 

What sets Heetch apart from other ride hailing apps is the fact that passengers can pay in cash if they would like. Once you have plugged in the address that you want to go to, the application will ask whether you want to pay in cash or by card.

Otherwise, the interface is quite similar to Uber – you can see where nearby cars are located and you can view an estimation of how long your journey will take, when the car will arrive, and how much you can expect to pay. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about taking a taxi in Paris

Le Cab

Le Cab is another French taxi alternative. The application promises that customers will only pay the fixed price they agree to when reserving their ride. 

One advantage to Le Cab is that its stated prices to Paris airports are listed on their website: to go to Orly from Paris, pricing starts at €37, and to go to Roissy CDG pricing starts at €48. 

Le Cab advertises itself on its availability across the country. It is available in 24 cities across France, so if you are travelling across the country and you are unsure whether one of the other services will be available, Le Cab will likely be present in that city.

Velib

If you are looking to avoid cars altogether, you can always rent a bike while on your trip. While Uber and Lime have options to rent bikes on their applications, you could also go with a city bike rental option.

In Paris, the primary choice would be “Vélib” which was launched in 2007. With over 1,400 docking points across the Greater Paris area, Vélib stations are usually to find. You can also opt for an electric bike (these are coloured blue, instead of green). 

You can rent the bike for 45 minutes for just €3 or you can consider a 24-hour rental, which would cost €5. Normally, at the Vélib station you should be able to enter your credit card information and make an account, but if that is not available then you can do so online.

Subscription plans are also available.

For people with disabilities, there are other options for hiring adapted bikes. These might include low seat bikes, folding bikes, three-wheelers, and more. Two websites – Espace vélo pour tous and Vélo handicap offer accessible alternatives for those with reduced mobility. 

Member comments

  1. I would never take G7

    My husband and I used a G7 taxi in Paris and we’re charged an exorbitant supplement when we arrived at our destination. The fare itself was €14, but the driver added a €7 fee. Our hotel concierge told us we had been ripped off and should have refused to pay it.

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PARIS

Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Public transport users in the Paris region may be facing higher prices for tickets and travel passes in the new year, as the region's transport network attempts to meet €950 million in additional costs for 2023.

Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Grappling with rising costs, local authorities for the Paris region are considering raising the price of tickets and the monthly Navigo pass for the capital’s public transport system.

These new fares would come into effect on January 1st, 2023 – although local authorities still have to approve the price rises, which will be put to the vote on December 7th, and the government may yet step in to shield commuters from the sharpest increases. 

According to information leaked to French media, the cost of a single ticket – currently set at €1.90 – could go up by 21 percent – reaching €2.30 in the new year. Paris runs an integrated public transport system which means that tickets can be used on the Metro, tram, bus or RER train services. 

Fans of the 10-ticket carnet could see prices go up to €20.30, a rise from €16.90 for paper ticket purchasers and from €14.90 for mobile phone app and Navigo easy users.

As for the Navigo pass – the monthly rail card – which will be the focus of daily transport users in the Ile-de-France, the region’s President Valérie Pécresse warned that it could jump from the current €75.20 per month to €90. 

Other travel passes are also predicted to see a rise – the weekly Navigo semaine from €22.80 to €31, and the Navigo annual from €827.20 to €990.

READ MORE: Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

The transport system is considering price rises because it faces €950 million in additional costs for 2023, as a result of energy rates rising and the fact that the transport system will begin owing payments to the French government on their “Covid loans” in the year 2023. 

While the increase in single ride fares to €2.30 could bring in an additional €500 million, the region’s transport operators would still be short by €450 million.

Possible outcomes

In order to avoid sharp increases to fares for passengers, there are three possible solutions that have been put forward by President of the Region, Valérie Pecresse. 

The first option would be a sort of fare shield. This would keep the price of a Navigo pass at €75.20 by relying on the State for various aids, such as transforming the region’s “Covid loans” of €2 billion into a subsidy, spreading out repayments between 2023 and 2036, and lowering the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 10 percent to 5.5 percent, which would bring in €150 million per year. So far these proposals have not been met with support.

The second possible solution would be a uniform increase of 7.5 percent from all contributing parties to the transport system, Île de France Mobilités (IDFM).

Currently, the IDFM is financed in 12 percent by the region, 38 percent by passengers, and 50 percent by contributions from private companies. If a 7.5 percent increase was applied across the board, the impact on passengers would be an increase in the Navigo pass to €80.80 euros per month.

And the third possibility, one that has been championed by Pécresse, would be to increase the contribution of companies in Paris and the inner suburbs to the ‘Mobility’ fund. However, this would have to be done by an amendment to the French government’s Finance Bill, and as of late November, parliament stood opposed to tax increases on these companies.

Without any of these solutions taking place, Pécresse has warned that users would have to withstand a 20 percent price increase, meaning a monthly Navigo pass costing between €90 to €100.

Pécresse has called this possibility “socially unbearable” and “anti-environmental.”

The Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, told RMC on Monday that the ministry will to “everything to avoid an increase to the Navigo pass,” adding that discussions were still underway.

Meanwhile, the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, told France Inter that the government plans to “identify ways and means to avoid an increase as significant as that which has been cited” in discussions with the region.

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