So I'm reading all sorts of warnings about driving in Paris. I am picking up a car at CDG and driving outside of Paris for a week and then returning to Paris for a few days. Is it really so bad that I shouldn't even consider driving INTO the city to return the car near my hotel in St. Germain? The posts are so intense, that I'm considering dropping the car somewhere on the west side near the Bois de Boulogne and using UBER the rest of the way. I am a former NYer and drove in Manhattan most of my life. Is it really too challenging to just come in to St. Germain and return the car? I
Just go for it and report back. What do you have to lose? We need an update on driving in Paris. Maybe the people that found it as a nightmare do not have the same experience driving in the city with traffic like you do.
Thanks Jazz - That's what I'm thinking. How bad can it be? Although I was a passenger in Old San Juan some years ago and I can tell you I would NEVER drive there.
It's been awhile since I drove into Paris, and it's now so easy to get maps online to guide you. I never enjoyed driving in Paris.
I'd just tell you to avoid driving into the city during the rush hour to the rental car operation. Pick your hours when traffic is not at its busiest.
I would choose the Bois de Boulogne option. How near is the other option to your hotel? You would probably also need to find some transport from there to your hotel.
Driving in from the edge of Paris (Boulevard Périphérique) to a specific destination you know you can park at, with a preplanned route and a navigator with a map to help is probably OK if you are a big city driver. What you do not want to be doing is driving from place to place in Paris, especially if you don't know where you can park when you get there.
Why Uber? What is wrong with using the métro?
We have driven into Paris many times; it is not unusually difficult. It is like driving in any big city; it does help to have a navigator to spot signs and such in a new place. If you are returning a car in downtown Paris, it will probably be in a hard to spot underground garage so be sure you know what you are looking for with very clear directions. These things are not well signed.
Absolutely, you can do it, especially with NYC driving background.
I've never found it all that difficult. It's big city driving. I do agree that it's real helpful to have a navigator, but it's not the end of the world if you miss a turn or get lost. Pull over, get your bearings and start off again.
I also agree that there are poorly marked entrances to the underground parking garages, but again, it's not a big deal if you miss the entrance. Go around the block and look for it again. We've done that several different times but always found the garage entrance in the end.
We all like and dislike different things. I don't find driving in Paris a horror to be avoided. We've never had any real problems and have always found parking reasonably close to where we're staying. Last year the street we were staying on was being re-paved and we still found a parking place near by.
I hope you enjoy your vacation, including dropping the car off in Paris.
I've driven in Paris a lot as well as most other large American / European cities including Manhattan just this past week - of course it's doable but can be absolutely maddening for a variety of reasons. First of all there are warrens of one-way streets - just going around the block isn't always possible. Unlike Manhattan the streets are not laid out in a general grid pattern - they go every which way in no logical pattern and it's very easy to get turned around. I will say that streets are very well marked with names and directional signs. Even the worst Manhattan rush hour traffic has nothing on Paris traffic though - nobody pays attention to lanes, they will criss-cross in front and behind you, and it doesn't keep moving like it does in New York.
If you absolutely must then go for it - it will make for good stories later on. St. Germain is the heart of the old city though and you are in for the full experience if that is your only option. Good luck!
Following the river from the peripherique to St Germain would be simple.
I've dropped off a car in the center of Paris (Gare de Lyon) and it can be done if you plan carefully. First, you need to locate a gas station on your way if you plan to fill the tank before you drop it off. Next, you need to carefully locate the parking garage for your rental agency--they are not signed very well, so use Google Street View to make sure you know where to turn. And last, don't necessarily trust GPS or Google Maps for directions. Take the way of least resistance even if your GPS says it takes longer (such as following the river from the Prepherique as the previous poster recommends. Bon chance!
I don't like driving into DC, because it's a frustrating waste of time negotiating the traffic. It's not that I can't, just that I try to avoid it to the maximum extent possible. There are a number of cities I'd especially avoid (London, Tokyo, Rome, New York and Los Angeles probably top the list). It's a good general rule to just avoid driving in cities if you can - sometimes it can't be avoided and must be survived.
Following the river from the peripherique to St Germain would be simple.
Unfortunately it's one-way the wrong way at street level (called the quai) if coming from the west, and the river level (called the berges) have been made pedestrian in places. For Saint Germain des Pres, the closest return at a train station would be Gare de Montparnasse. Or, you could drop the car at Orly and for 30 euros let a taxi do the work. That would be my choice because no matter where you drop it, you still need to get to your hotel. There's no guarantee you can double-park and unload before returning the car. Last year we couldn't stop in front of a hotel and had to return the car and taxi back. Almost got a ticket.
The driving is like driving on a small cross-street in Mid-town or narrowed avenues (narrowed by parked cars, bus lanes, merging traffic from the right, which has priority) but without a grid layout. You need a good map, GPS, and navigator. My husband learned to drive in Paris, and we both drove there for years, but it's gotten more restricted with bus lanes, bicycles, and more crowded over time. NY, except Mid-town, doesn't seem too bad. D.C. seems like a suburb to us ;--) August is easier for driving than the rest of the year, as is Sunday--once you get past the awful weekend jams into the city--and later evening.
If you aren't keeping the car very long, put it in an underground garage and forget about it. You'll pay for the privilege, but won't have to move your car from the "livraison" spots by 6:30 AM or get a ticket.
There are too many roadworks to consider trying to navigate around. My neighbourhood borders yours, and it's a holy mess...
Just Google "parking" in your arrondissement. DaVinci is the most popular.
Using Uber borders on the ridiculous - that's a lot of money which you could put to underground parking.
Bets and Anita have pretty much summarised what I was going to say.
I learned how to drive on the waterfront in Brooklyn and in the Garment District (does it still exist?) in the City - my Dad wanted me to learn how to drive around trucks and taxis.
Driving in Paris can be done - lots of people do do it, mostly successfully - but it is a bear. And the driving is the relatively easy bit - at some time you will want to stop the car and get out which is where the real fun begins. Street parking is next to impossible, stopping near your destination is often impossible. It isn't like driving on the avenues and parking on the streets. The spaces are all full all the time,and double parking is not done. You need to sell a child and park underground - poorly signed as said above, extremely expensive, and very narrow - be sure to have the full hand on insurance.
I've done it but didn't like it and I drive everywhere in London happily - well not so happily much of the time but I find it easy if frustrating. London is much better signed than Paris and the roads are much wider, and parking is often findable.
Unfortunately it's one-way the wrong way at
Then approach from the east, or drive on the opposite bank.
I haven't driven in Paris but I have in quite a few other European cities and Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC etc which I found fine despite being a left hander. I'm currently in Nice and driving around yesterday proved that the French are some of the most impatient and ignorant drivers I've encountered. It's not that driving is difficult but rather frustrating. Expect no signalling, no lane discipline, lots of cutting up, zero courtesy, lots of tailgating and every other antisocial driving attribute you can think of. If you think you can handle that and equip yourself with a gps then I'd say go for it.
We returned car to Gare du Montparnesse recently. First visit to Paris. Very easy to get to from ring road. Short Uber or taxi ride to St Germain. Easier than NYC.
Thank you all for your comments and advice. Somehow, I'm still haven't decided, but you have all provided me all the info there probably is on the topic! And it's time for me to just jump off and be done with it.