Look at the photo of Gare de l'Est. On the left side of the station there is the entrance of the parking ALSACE.
If you take it you have an access to a paying underground parking.
But have a look at the way, before the barrier of the parking. You will see a lot of cars parked, FREELY. They are owned by SNCF (transport authorities) employees but they have no sign or card.
So if you have a French rented car and if you go there early in the morning or late in the evening you will get a free covered parking.
As the previous tip. This information is not in the guides and when it will be, it will not be a tip.
You may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license in France, but for a few dollars, go to the AAA of the US and get an International Driving Permit or attach a French translation to your US driver's license. You must also be at least 18 years old and hold a valid credit card.
There are several good car hire companies throughout Europe, I would recommend one of the following;
ADA – 0825 169 169
Avis – 0820 150 505
Europcar – 0870 607 500
Hertz – 0720 903 905
The speed limit is 50 km/h (30 mph) in the towns, and 90 km/h (55 mph) on the open roads.
At the other end of the scale from the Ferrari in my previous tip are these ‘Smart’ cars, now ubiquitous in Paris. Of course, one features in the film ‘The DaVinci Code’, where it shows surprising performance in reverse!
It must be said that, with parking at a premium and fuel costs high, they make considerable sense in Paris. What’s more, as seen here, when parked they take only half the width of a pedestrian crossing. (Don't try that in Australia!) I find it really surprising that, in Paris, there seems little concern about where or how people park (though I did see one car which had been wheel-clamped): thinking about this since my return, I do not recall seeing any parking meters in the streets.
The Hotel de Crillon is one of the top hotels in Paris, fronting the Place de la Concorde. It isn’t the sort of place which fits my travel budget (‘promotional rooms’ from 500€), but should it fit yours, the phone is 01 44 71 15 00. Outside, it’s likely you will find some prestigious motor cars, carefully watched by the uniformed doormen.
I’ll have to admit it, this is a blatant excuse to put up photos of this gorgeous Ferrari I found parked outside. Interesting to see the Swiss number plate too (second photo). Hmm, a Swiss based top model Ferrari, I wonder could it belong to a certain racing driver …?
"One driver out of every twelve in Paris has killed a man.
On foot, the Parisian is as courteous as the citizen of any other city.
But mounted, he is merciless."
~ Irwin Shaw ~
The infamous rotary at the Arc de Triomphe is a perfect example of this: police are stationed on the Champs-Elysées side to keep unwitting tourists from walking directly across eight lanes of traffic to the Arc.
As a rule, the fastest and biggest car wins.
'Priorité à droite' gives the right of way to the car approaching from the right, regardless of the size of the streets, and Parisian drivers make it an affair of honour to take this right even in the face of grave danger.
La plupart des automobiles du monde marchent à l'essence.
Les autos françaises marchent au klaxon. Surtout quand elles sont arrêtées.
Translation: Most of the automobiles in this world run on gasoline.
The French autos run on horns.
Especially when they're stopped.
~ Pierre Daninos ~
Technically, drivers are not allowed to honk their horns within city limits unless they are about to hit a pedestrian, but this rule is often broken. The legal way to show discontent is to flash your headlights.
If you don't have a map of Paris marked with one-way streets, the city will be impossible to navigate.
BTW Parking is expensive and hard to find. But you probably aleady knew that!
Often, VT members ask where to park freely and safely.
I suggest La Defense, on Voie des Sculpteurs or Voie des Batisseurs (they are covered ways)
You need a precise local map to find these 2 ways which are at the same place. To find a place, you must go either 12AM to 2PM or after 5:30 PM or during the week end. Avoid to park where it is written in yellow LIVRAISON (delivery) your car would be towed quickly.
The area is free and frequently visited by the police (the police office is nearby).
The RER station La Defense (line A) and the metro station Esplanade (Line 1) are nearby.
Some VTer's ask me how to know more about this place. It is a true tip. That means you never find it in a guide, you do not have to follow a sign FREE PARKING. If that occures, do not waste your time to look for the parking : it will be surely full.
Buy a Paris map with a map of La Defense and be cuning.
Expect to pay at least US$180 per week, plus 20.6% tax, for a teensy car..... you'll probably have to purchase insurance as well.
~ Automatic transmission is often unavailable on cheaper cars.
~ Reserve well before leaving for France and pay in advance if at all possible.
It is always significantly less expensive to reserve a car from the US than from France.
~ Always check(!!!) if prices quoted include tax, unlimited mileage, and collision insurance; some credit card companies will cover this automatically.
~ Ask about discounts and check the terms of insurance, particularly the size of the deductible.
~ Non-Europeans should check with their national motoring organization (like AAA) for international coverage.
~ Airlines sometimes offer special fly-and-drive packages, with up to a week of free or discounted rental.
~ The minimum age for renting in France is 21; those under 25 will often have to pay a surcharge.
At most agencies, all that's needed to rent a car is a valid driver's license and proof that you've had it for a year... but bring your passport just in case.
Go to the website below of 'AutoEurope' to learn more about renting a car in Paris:
You can try to be a brave soul and navigate the streets of Paris by driving, but I personally wouldn't do it. But, if you can get a hang of the layout of the streets it isn't that difficult I guess just be careful with the round-abouts. Personally, I would recommend that if you are on a short holiday, skip the driving and use the metro, bus or taxi system.
Parking in Paris can be quite hellish and so can the traffic, so leave the driving to the Pariesians.
Driving around the peripherique (The ring road of Paris), is something you just don't want to do. It is a mad, bad dangerous place even when it is laden with speed limits and cameras.
It is made even worse by certain drivers with a death-wish trying to copy their hero 'The Black Prince'. Although he sound like a slightly-dodgy porn star he famously achieved infamy through his illegal racing onthe peripherique all 35 km's of the ring-road. Averaging 190+ kph on his Kawasaki ZXR750 with a camera strapped to the tank, the Frenchman's stunt achieved a cult status in the biking world.
Please don't copy this at home, as they used to say.
Unfortunatly your route may well include the route, just make sure you are sober, alert and expect for the unexpected.
If you need a car to get around in Paris or to get moving from Paris, there is many possibilities for car renting at the trainstations.
For example Gare de l'Est offers different car renting-companies and when my brother and I wanted a car to go from Paris to southern France in 2002, we found a Renault Twingo for an okay price near Gare de Montpanarsse.
The most important tip for car owners who want to visit the city of Paris is: don't do it! Paris' traffic is hectic, traffic jams are everywhere, parking is very difficult and expensive and finding your way around can be a problem too.
A better way to visit Paris when you are by car is to park the car in the parking at Porte de la Chapelle. This is the northern suburb of the city, just inside the Periférique. Parking here is not expensive (€11,- a day) and the Metro is just around the corner.
The parking is not accessible for people who don't have a ticket, which makes it quite a safe place to park your car. Note: the ticket can only be paid with coins! No bankcard, no notes, just coins, so make sure you have enough of them! The parking is open 24 hours a day; you can open the door on the outside with your ticket, so don't leave it in your car!
Say what you want about Paris and the french motorway-system, but the people who planned it wasn't the most clever in the world...
I just love Paris, it's probably the most impressive town in the world for me, but I was just seconds from hating the town for the rest of my life!
We went down, with car, from Sweden to Portugal this summer, and were really pleased with the fantastic (although EXPENSIVE) motorways in France.
Then we came to Paris... You might think that they built the motorway around the big capital...? No way...! Instead you have to get off the highway, and find the ringway around Paris, to even be able to go on south in the country.
Needless to say, we got lost. If it wasn't hard enough to find the right way, when we finally found it the way was closed... Could have killed someone right then and there...
After nearly three hours, lost in the worst parts of Paris, we finally found the way out of the town, and I could go back to loving Paris again...
But please, until the idiots have built new ways around Paris, leave the car at home on your Paris/France-trip!
Citroen is nowadays a car maker as any other, but the Citroen cars that circulated until a couple of decades ago were probably the quirkiest cars around (with the exception of the Fiat 500). Among them, the 2cv was certainly the most loved, and a French icon. For many decades it was made in the same design as the first model in 1936. Small but comfortable, with an open top, it was a great favourite, especially in the ‘60s and ‘70s, among the young who wanted to explore the world on four wheels.
Now it is possible to use this car to explore Paris in a way that is far more interesting than from a bus or a taxi. Especially because the open top allows to play the paparazzi. There is a company called 4 roues sous 1 parapluie (it means “4 wheels under an umbrella”) providing 2cv cars with driver, for a wide choice of tours in Paris or outside. Each car can carry up to 3 passengers, and the fare is calculated per car, so the fare will be lower if you share it with one or two other passenger instead of going alone with your driver.
The shortest trip lasts 30 minutes, it is from Place de la Concorde along the Champs Elysée to the Etoile, and costs EUR 58 per car. If you take that, you will be able to take pictures of the Madeleine Church, the Petit Palais, the Grand Palais, the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides and the Arc de Triomphe.
Since the Vélib’ system of spontaneous short-term bicycle rentals has proved to be such a huge success, the city of Paris has started a similar (but smaller) system for car rentals.
As with the Vélib’ bikes, the Autolib’ cars can be checked out at any time of the day or night from on-street stations throughout Paris (and 46 surrounding towns) and can be returned to any of the stations that has a space available.
The cars are 100 % electric, so they are silent and cause no local pollution.
(They might cause pollution somewhere else, depending on how the electricity is made. Since in France a high proportion of electricity is made by nuclear fission, the really serious pollution will be delayed until there is a catastrophe at one of the many atomic energy plants. Of course the French are convinced their atomic energy plants are so perfect that nothing can ever go wrong, but that’s what the Japanese thought, too.)
Autolib’ was inaugurated on a small scale in December 2011. It is gradually being expanded and is intended at some point to have 3000 cars (Bluecars, they are called) and 6600 recharging stations.
My first three photos show the Autolib’ station at 47 rue de la Grange aux Belles in the 10th arrondissement, near the St. Louis hospital. This station has four parking spaces with recharging points.
My fourth photo shows the only Autolib’ car that I have ever seen actually being driven on the streets of Paris. The building in the background is Les Invalides. The slogan on the car reads “Zero noise. Zero pollution.”
Next review from July 2012: Changes in the traffic rules
Here’s a tip for all you rich folks who insist on driving your heart-attack machines into the center of Paris.
I’m sure you are aware that on-street parking is not an option in Paris. Politicians wanting to be re-elected like to boast about how many parking spaces they have eliminated. They exaggerate, of course – there never were as many parking spaces as they claim to have done away with – but still, your chances of finding a legal on-street parking space within twenty blocks of your restaurant or club are practically zero.
Like most motorists, you could simply head for the nearest parking garage, hoping it isn’t full (complet is the French word, and they often are), drive in and pay whatever they charge.
But you wouldn’t want to do that, because it would be undignified and unbefitting your status as a member of the financial elite. Also you never know what sort of riff-raff you might encounter in a parking garage. Some garages even offer free bicycle parking, and you know what sort of disreputable characters ride around the city on bicycles.
The solution is to look for the sign reading “voiturier” outside your favorite club or restaurant. A “voiturier” is a man (in job advertisements they have to say they are seeking a “voiturier/voiturière”, but you know who will get the job) who will take over your car and park it in some mysterious place for you, and then return it to you promptly and discreetly when you are drunk at the end of the evening, a service known in the English speaking world as “valet car parking”.
And where does the “voiturier” park your precious vehicle? In the nearest parking garage, perhaps, if he has reserved enough places. But more likely your car will be parked illegally, double or triple parked or on a sidewalk or bicycle lane. The police occasionally ticket these cars, but not often enough to discourage the practice.
By the way, a drink at the exclusive Esplanade (first photo) costs nearly double the price of the same drink at a normal pub a block or two away.
Next review: The triumph of cars over people