mini break 2010 - ground transportation: Paris

Ooh la la!

Our direct flight from Dublin to Paris on ryanair flies into Beauvais Airport (easyjet doesn't fly to Dublin at all). Beauvais is about an hour and a half outside of the city center. To get into Paris, it's easiest to take the bus for about €15 per person, each way, and information can be found on the airport website.

Thankfully, our flight out of Paris (heading to London) leaves from Charles de Gaulle Airport, which is much more accessible. You can take the RER train, which is connected to the Metro. For one way fare, it's €8.40 (and €5.90 for children). Look for the "poche" or "pocket" metro maps. They're tiny and convenient and relatively easy to decipher.

For travelling within the city, you can purchase single t+ metro tickets or a packet of 10 tickets, which will save you time. Fare is €11.40 for adults (and €5.70 for children). Same as in London, remember to hold onto your ticket because you have to use it at random checkpoints (if you're switching from one line to another) and as you leave metro stations. And of course, if you purchased a ten pack of tickets, keep your used and unused tickets separate from each other. That's just common sense.

There's also something called the mobilis pass. It's a day pass for zones 1-2 for €5.90. Just be wary of what zones you want to travel in and figure out what will work best for you. If you're staying in the city for an entire week and you'll be devoting whole days to one area, you probably won't be using the metro too much and would be better off buying the t+ 10 ticket carnet. If you know you're going to be hopping around all over the city because you have limited time, the day pass would be more financially responsible. Make the decision yourself.

A better deal for tourists is to purchase ParisVisite cards, which offer discounts on select attractions. Adult fare covering zones 1-3 is €9 for one day, €14.70 for two days, €20 for three days, and €28.90 for five days. There are additional fares for tickets covering zones 1-6, which are more expensive. However, keep in mind that all of the major tourist attractions are contained within zones 1-3. However, if you want to visit Chateau de Versailles or Disneyland Paris, you'll need the ticket covering zones 1-6.

You might have noticed that I keep including the children's fare in parentheses after the adult fare, and you may have also noticed that it is often more than 25% cheaper than adult fare. And I hope I don't get in trouble for revealing this, but during my trips to Paris, I would purchase the children's tickets at the ticket kiosks and use them... and they worked! Apparently there are inspectors that may check your ticket once in a while, but that never happened to me.

By the way, if you want a more scenic way to travel through the city (rather than underground), Paris has a bike rental system called Vélib (click on the English download on the upper right hand corner). You can rent a bike for 1 day by paying a €1 "starter fee," and then you will be charged by the hour (though the first 30 minutes is free!). You can also get a 7 day pass for €5, and pay by hour accordingly. You have to use a valid credit card, to which the renters will apply a €150 deposit for any damages or theft. You can rent a bike from any station and return it to any station. Be wary as some stations fill up quickly and you may need to find a different place to return your bike (which will cost you since they charge you by the hour!).

Breakdown of travel:
  • Fly into Paris Beauvais Airport on Saturday morning (06Nov) and head into the city
  • Need t+ tickets for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (three 10 ticket carnets? - that translates to 30 rides, 15 for each of us, 5 or so per day - I think that could work, since this would be cheaper than getting mobilis passes for both of us for three days)
  • Fly out of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on Monday evening (heading to London)
If we decide to abide by the law, travelling in Paris will cost us €81 for the two of us, which translates to $104.30, or $52.15 for each of us. If we decide to be illegal, travelling in Paris will cost us €58.90 for the two of us, which translates to $75.84, or $37.92 for each of us... So is it worth saving $14 (per person) by breaking the law? That's the price of three really delicious macaroons from Ladurée, which I think is worth it :)