There are significant differences in lifestyles with respect to transportation, between urbanised regions such as Paris, and smaller towns and rural areas. In Paris, and to a lesser extent in other major cities, many households do not own a car and simply use the efficient public transport.
Paris has an excellent system of roads, although driving there is not for the faint-hearted. It is better not to drive anyway, since the public transport is excellent. Taxis cruise the streets in Paris. They can also be found at taxi stands by the train station and in the main squares. Nearly all are radio taxis and can be summoned quickly to your hotel by the concierge. All taxis have meters, and there are surcharges for trips to the airport, Sunday travel, late hours and baggage.
Bus & Metro
France’s bus system is mostly run by the national railroad, the SNCF, with routes replacing or supplementing the train lines. Municipal buses in Paris are user-friendly, with well-posted routes. Paris’s subway system is called the Metro and is clean, efficient, and reliable. Metros run from 5:30am until 00:30am (after midnight).
The train service in France is efficient, punctual, and comfortable and is one of the most popular ways to get around. France’s extensive railway network connects large cities and towns throughout the country. Smaller towns without train stations are generally linked by a bus service to the nearest station. The French National Railroads’ (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer or SNCF) network of inter-city rail links also provides a frequent express and high-speed train service known as the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse. Operating at commercial speeds of 186mph, the high-speed network also includes European routes, featuring the Eurostar which connects Paris to London in just 2h35 and the Thalys going to Brussels and Amsterdam in 1h30 and 4 hours respectively. For added convenience, Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Lyon Saint-Exupery Airports have stations accommodating high-speed train.
If you are coming from the United Kingdom, you can use the Euro-tunnel to get to France. Euro tunnel’s car carrying service runs via the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone to Calais/Coquelles. Taking as little as 35 minutes platform to platform, it is a fast and exciting way to reach France and beyond. The service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with up to 4 departures an hour at peak periods.
France’s airport network includes 27 airports and serves 130 countries. Its international airports are based in Paris, (Roissy-Charles De Gaulle and Orly) with smaller airports located in Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Lille. France handles 6,200 flights every week. The two Paris airports handle 20% of the total airfreight in the European Union and their traffic growth, more than 10% per year, is far greater than most other European airports (2 to 3% per year). 600 enterprises, employing more than 55,000 people (of which 12,000 work in logistics), have based their operations there because of the location in the heart of the Paris Basin, the region of Europe with the highest GDP.
There are many connections to France by sea. Routes operate from ports in Ireland, the U.K and other European countries to ports in Le Havre, Cherbourg, Calais, Boulogne and Dunkerque. A list of the main shipping companies in the U.K is attached.