Finding your way around
Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (www.aeroportsdeparis.fr) welcomes flights from North America, and is located approximately 25km north of Paris. The easiest way to get downtown from here is to take the RER B, a regional train which stops at terminals 1 and 2. A 30min ride will take you to the Gare du Nord, Châtelet or Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame. The service runs from 5am until midnight. The Roissybus (every 15min) will drop you near the Opéra Garnier, and Air France coaches run to the Place de l'Étoile, the Porte Maillot, the Gare de Lyon and the Gare de Montparnasse (note that they run on different lines). The fares are similar. From terminal 3, bus no. 350 runs to the Gare de l'Est, and bus no. 351 to Nation.
Orly Airport is located 15km south of Paris and receives flights from other European cities, North Africa, and France's Overseas Departments. The airport also serves domestic flights in its western terminal. Orly can be reached directly by bus (no. 183) from the Porte de Choisy metro station between 5:35am and 8:35pm (expect a 50min trip). Another option is to take the RER B regional train to Antony station, and then transfer to the Orlyval metro, which runs every 5 minutes or so, from 6am to 11pm.
Paris has no fewer than six major train stations, or gares-the Gares of Lyon, Austerlitz, Montparnasse, Saint-Lazare, Du Nord and De l'Est-all of which can be reached by subway. Make sure you know which station your train is leaving from, or you may risk an unpleasant surprise. Don't forget to validate your ticket in one of the stations' orange machines before boarding. For travel within the greater Paris region, check the www.transilien.com (or www.sncf.com) Internet site for further information.
Driving in Paris is difficult for newcomers, especially since the city has tried to cut down on vehicle traffic in the city centre. If you really must use a car to get around, it is best to use the Périphérique, which circles the city. It will keep you from getting stuck in traffic or getting lost: simply choose the right exit, and voilà, you've arrived at your destination. At rush hour everything in Paris comes to a standstill, and driving takes a great deal of patience.
Taxis are easy to find, and all are equipped with meters. However, the fares are quite steep (expect to pay at least 50 Euros to get to the city from Roissy, and 35 Euros from Orly). Within Paris, you can call a cab or walk to the nearest taxi stand.
To get around Paris, you can either use the bus or the subway (le métro). Maps of the metro system are available in subway stations. For a short stay, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the subway system. Its numerous lines serve the entire region, and the system is linked to the RER network which stretches out into the outlying areas and runs to such destinations as Versailles. It is cheaper to buy tickets in booklets of 10. These tickets are valid on RER routes as long as you stay within Paris; if you venture further out you will need to pay a supplementary fare.
The Batobus river shuttle is one of the most pleasant, but also rather expensive, ways to get around: running up and down the Seine between the Eiffel Tower in the west and the Jardin des Plantes near the Gare d'Austerlitz in the east, these large boats provide passengers with lovely views of Paris as they pass by some of the city's key sights. Passes allow unlimited travel for one to five days, offering travellers flexibility.