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Learning about one or two bus routes is worth the effort

Sturdy Velib' bicycles await self-service renters all over central Paris

One of Paris's more historic Metro signs

Look for this indicator as the sign of a licenced and metered taxi

Metro sign is hard to miss

Palm tree in the busy Gare de Lyon hints that trains from this station go South

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Paris local transportation - a matter of choice

Strolling along the Grand Boulevards and thoroughly exploring the backstreets and winding lanes of particular districts are among the great pleasures of a visit to Paris. But, obviously, if you have only a limited amount of time in the City of Light, you'll want to fit in as much as you possibly can. That usually means getting from one place to another as fast as you can. 


Whether you hop on the Metro or the commuter trains, grab a bus, jump on a bicycle or take a taxi depends on how far you have to go, how well you can communicate in French or English, how much you have to carry and what you'd prefer to spend.

And, of course, unless you are traveling by train from elsewhere in Europe or the UK, you'll need to master one of the many forms of local transportation to get into the city from one of the two Paris airports. Charles de Gaulle/Roissy is 15 miles northeast of Paris; Orly is 10 miles south of Paris.

Paris is used to foreign visitors but, although things have improved in recent years, Parisians do not make it easy for non-French or English speakers. Thankfully, most public transportation is easy to understand with signs that transcend language barriers. Once you master a few basics, you'll be whipping around Paris like a native.

Some other tips - Bring a compact map, a pocket atlas or an app that includes Metro, RER and Bus information as well as an index of streets. And master the French for "please", "thank you", "good day", "good evening" and "where is". Parisians will appreciate the fact that you've made an effort and will be more willing to help you.



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