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Cash exchange at Orly Airport

From what I’m reading, I’ll need cash to get a cab to my hotel in Paris from the Orly airport. I’ve withdrawn Euros from ATMs at airports on previous trips to Europe, but the exchange rate is never very good plus there is always a fee from the ATM and my US bank. Would it be better to take US dollars and exchange them in the airport for Euros to avoid fees? Has anyone done this instead of using an ATM? Is the exchange rate similar to an ATM? Any suggestions are appreciated!

Posted by
3173 posts

My suggestion is that you take a taxi that takes credit cards -- they are legally required to do so and you should be able to find one in the official taxi line at the airport. Just show the driver your card and if he or she says no, try the next one. If you don't want to do that withdraw 50 to 100 euros from an ATM at the airport if you really want to pay cash. The exchange rate at the Travelex desk at the airport for cash is likely not going to be better than the rate for a cash withdrawal from an ATM at the airport. In France, I doubt that you will find an exchange rate for cash USD that is better than the exchange rate from an ATM. Where do you bank? If it is a bank that charges you $5 plus a foreign exchange fee, it might make sense to exchange cash for a small amount of money but really when you think about in the scheme of things, you might pay $8 tops to get your 50€ and so you might just want do whichever is most convenient for you and not worry about exchange rates on 50€.

Posted by
2257 posts

ATMs only distribute cash. They may have an access fee, such as the 1% or 2% Travelex charges at its airport ATMs, but French bank ATMs charge no fees. The user will pay the currency exchange entity a 1% fee (unless the bank reimburses it as Charles Swab does), but any other fees come from your local bank.

Taxi fares from ORY to Paris are fixed at 32€/37€ for the Left/Right Bank respectively. Taxis will accept major credit cards, but I would let it be known in advance that I was paying by card. Most, not all, credit cards will also charge up to 3% for purchases made in a foreign currency.

ORY typically has two taxi lines. One for those with Paris destinations, and a second for destinations in the suburbs. If you’re going to Paris, make sure you are in the correct line.

Posted by
4824 posts

95% of cabs will take cards these days so just let the driver know as you get in.
I'll just add that the Paris-bound taxi line can be quite long (15-20 minute wait not uncommon) at Orly airport. Even so, it is still the best way to go to the city center.

Posted by
2257 posts

May I comment on the airport taxi lines.

There are probably hundreds of taxis waiting for fares at the airports at any given time. The inevitable wait is not due to a lack of taxis, its cause is massive disorganization, extremely poor facility layout, and staff that generally has no idea what they are doing, all within the pickup zones. It is extremely frustrating to watch these buffoons in action, and the show is the same at both CDG and ORY. Gare du Nord has seen some progress in the expedited taxi boarding process, but Gare du Nord has a problem with taxi drivers cheating unaware, foreign passengers.

On rare occasion, I have seen someone really take charge, keep taxis and boarding passengers moving, but generally narrow roadways are blocked by loading passengers, few of the passenger loading spots are actually utilized, and everyone just looks at one another with a dark stare of utter confusion.

Bring a good amount of patience along with your credit card if you are taking a taxi from the airport.

Posted by
7348 posts

Re: exchanging dollars. Your assumption is that an exchange service will have a better rate and not have fees of their own. All these services have costs associated with just being there, so its not likely to be any better than an ATM. Every time I've looked, the rate is worse. You're paying for the convenience.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all! I haven’t been to Paris for a while and last time cash was required for cabs. Glad to hear I can use a credit card. Best exchange rate out there.

Posted by
1978 posts

hey hey wimmermall829
i know this topic always comes up, no right or wrong answer.
traveled with couple friends many times and i have always picked up 100-200E from my bank/credit union before trip. cost was about $20 but so so worth it to me. i asked for small bills, like at ATM, ask for 80E instead 100E. last time a 100 bill popped out OUCH.
first trip to rome (europe) with no euros, getting off plane with the other hundreds of travelers, running to ATM, had 2 one was out of service, line was soooooooo long. how much money in machine and when it runs out would probably happen to me.
borrowed 100E from friend until we got to rome center and an ATM connected to bank outside. it really puts a damper in my happiness but got better with euros and glass of wine.
nowdays many ATM's in airports are travelex which charges big fees. don't take US dollars to exchange at a poor poor rate. after this one time incident, it's worth my time to pick up here in the states.
some places/shops/cafes want cash if items are under 15E since they are charged to use credit card. so many things to think about. today the euro is even or little less than dollars, when we were there it was 1.29E.
enjoy paris, have a great croissant, sit at a cafe with chacuterie tray and wine to enjoy the air and people watching.
aloha

Posted by
1118 posts

no matter when you take cash from an ATM always look for a bank ATM not a third party ATM for the best exchange and cheapest fees. Check with your local bank at home and see if they will sell you foreign currency if you are interested in having cash when you land.

Posted by
33 posts

I will add, on my last trip, I verified that the taxi took credit cards, however, when we arrived, he could not get the machine to work.

I did have cash and used that. I was worried that my card would not work in France (Yikes), but used it that night for dinner. It was just the driver not wanting to take credit card

Posted by
12 posts

For peace of mind:
1. Agree with previous poster…order some euros in small denominations from your bank. Depending on your bank status, fees may be waived.
2. Arrange for a driver to pick you up. Not sure how that price would compare to taxi, but you’d probably pay in advance with credit card. You’d have to do some research.
3. I would never count on an airport’s ATM for necessary cash.
4. Always bring home some euros with you so you are front-loaded for your next trip! ;)

Posted by
3225 posts

bj is right, twice I've taken a cab to CDG and they had "issues" with my credit card. And that is why you must always travel with a few cards from different banks, and make sure your travel partner does the same. Eventually a card will work, it's the damndest thing.

Don't get too hung up on exchange rates and fees, it's an unavoidable cost of changing money. Why should a business provide that service for free?

Posted by
3173 posts

I don't want to be a cynic but the "credit card machine is not working" ploy is just that a ploy to get cash. I don't blame the drivers because they get paid a little less when the rider uses a credit card. When a taxi driver says at the airport that he or she takes credit and then the machine does not work at the end of the ride, it will "miraculously" work when it becomes clear that the passenger has no cash.

Posted by
4824 posts

I definitely agree with the above.
I never have issues paying by card in a cab these days in Paris. My American partner, however, often gets told that the machine is broken. Looks like drivers are targeting people who they think are tourists!
Of course, if that stressed you out, getting 100€ at the airport or at home won't cost you that much in the broad context of the trip, even at a Travelex ATM or with money exchange commissions at a bank.

Posted by
1872 posts

I’m in Paris now. I took a taxi from Gare du Lyon after transiting via Eurostar from London. Second taxi was from Marais after a Eating Europe Twilight dinner tour and I didn’t want to walk or take the bus by myself at night (I’ve been lost since I’ve been here). Anyway, both taxis took credit card. Just be sure your card is contactless.

PS I’ll write a trip report when I get home the end of the month. Having a great time! Exhausted but smiling.