How to get a taxi in Paris
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 5:25PM
Christopher in French Culture, Getting around Paris, Paris Taxis, Practical Paris

Hailing a taxi in most big cities around the world is a pretty straight forward affair.  Especially in cities where there is a taxi meter.  Paris is a big city; the drivers respect the meter and the rules, even if they don’t necessarily have much respect for their passengers.  So what, you ask, could be so complicated?

Well, we're in France so things are not as they may seem.  First of all it’s not always easy to hail a taxi on the street.  It can happen occasionally, but don't count on it.  While researching this post I found a helpful article on the City of Paris website entitled “Why taxis don’t stop in Paris when hailed.”  So clearly this is a widespread frustration. 

What I learned from the City of Paris is that a taxi driver is not allowed to stop if he/she is 50m or less from a Taxi Stand; if you are standing on the sidewalk where the driver would have to stop in a bus lane to collect you; or if the taxi is already reserved and on its way to pick up a fare. (In this case the light on top is not illuminated at all)

So the best place to catch a taxi is at an official taxi stand.  Therefore you should have a sense of where these are located before leaving your hotel.  Be aware that many of the smaller stands in remote parts of town are less frequented by drivers, so it’s advisable to stick with the larger “Grandes Stations” marked on the map with a blue dot. 

For visitors, the most central taxi stand is near the Louvre at the Place Andre Malraux.  This is near the intersection of rue de Rivoli and Avenue de l’Opera.  This is marked with a blue dot and the number 2 on the map.  Another place is to the left of the big square in front of Notre Dame.  This is not an offical stand, but with the numerous taxis arriving to Notre Dame and the Hospital just in front it's a pretty safe bet you'll have a short wait.

The other way to get a taxi is to book in advance.  I consider the most professional company to be Taxis G7.  They have the largest fleet, a 24 hour booking number and also take bookings online.  But don’t worry, they have operators on duty who speak English; just ask to be transferred to someone that speaks English. 

One thing to be aware of is that in Paris, there is an unusual rule about how fares are charged when you book a taxi in advance.  The driver is allowed to turn on the meter when he/she leaves to meet you, so expect a few extra Euros on the meter when the taxi arrives.  This is most shocking when you book a taxi early in the morning for a short trip within Paris from your hotel to one of the train stations.  In this case, the driver trips the meter leaving home in the suburbs and I have seen as much 20€ or more already on the meter when I get into the car.  This can be a substantial sum when the fare is about 10€ to the station, but if your hotel or apartment isn’t close to a stand that is busy early in the morning there’s not much other choice unless you book a fixed rate taxi through our concierge service. 

Another “hidden” charge which is legal, but perhaps confusing for visitors is that the driver charges One Euro for each bag that is put into the trunk.  So expect to have that added to the fare shown on the meter.

If you do try to hail a taxi or happen to see one near a museum or other monument you are visiting, confirm first if the taxi is available or already taken.  Throughout 2011, the 16,623 taxis registered in Paris will be changing the lights on top of the car that indicate if they already have a fare or not.  It’s now simple; Green is go -- the taxi is available and Red, the taxi is "not available."  And as I mentioned before, lights completely off means it's already reserved or not in service.

One last thought, of particular interest to American visitors, is about tipping Taxi drivers in Paris.  How much to tip in Paris is a common concern.  Well, like restaurants, the taxi driver is not working for tips so it's not expected.  It's one of the few countries I've visited where the driver takes the time to count out change down to the last centime.  Nevertheless, rounding up the fare by Euro or two is not uncommon and, of course, larger tips are always appreciated if you feel that you had a helpful and/or courteous driver.

 

Click here to download a PDF of the Taxi Stand Map from www.paris.fr

 

http://www.taxisg7.com/taxis/commande-taxis

 

 

Image Credits:

Danny De Vito   Copyright: ExaggerArt.com

Taxi Photo         www.Paris.fr

Article originally appeared on Paris Wise - Everything you need to know paris-wise (http://paris-wise.com/).
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