We're going to Paris via train, arriving at the Gare du Nord. Should we attempt the metro with our suitcases, or take a taxi? Can taxis drivers be trusted?
What day of the week? What time of day? How many suitcases? If it's peak commute time you might want a taxi, but if not there's no reason to not take the metro unless you have huge bags or more than you can easily handle. I've never taken a taxi in Paris, but I have no reason to think they can't be trusted.
Maria well, you did not say where hotel is, it could be close by or easy to take metro too, but for ease, yes taxi is always a good choice. Taxis are metered just like here and taxi drivers generally honest. Note there are some charges that are "off meter", and perfectly normal and legal. First is a 1 euro fee per suitcase ( not including a carry on or purse) and if you are more then 3 people they charge 3 euros extra. At Gare du Nord there is a taxi stand, you take a taxi from there, NOT from some random taxi driver who approaches you. You simply exit station ( there are signs in station for "Taxi") and go to taxi rank, line up. Line may look long but moves quickly. There is an assistant that monitors each persons turn and will point to taxi for you. When you call a taxi to your hotel for your return trip, taxis will arrive with money on the meter as they put meter on from time of call. This is legal and normal , I just stress this as people sometimes get upset because they don't understand the rules. If there is a taxi rank near your hotel you may elect to take a taxi from there, there is no money on meter if you take a taxi from a rank. Taxis cannot be hailed within a certain distance of a rank, they are not allowed to stop for you .
Depending on time of day and how busy taxi stand is near to you its worth it to call taxi night before ( usually hotel will do that for you) but I have also used taxi rank ( checked it out as we walked by in days before and noted there always seemed to be taxis there, but some are less busy).
Please give us the address of your hotel so we can be sure to advise you well.
We're arriving on Monday, April 8 in the morning. We will each have one suitcase and two back packs (each).
In addition to what Pat said about taxi drivers at Gare du Nord that might approach you, don't pay any attention to the homeless looking guys (who actually are homeless) who might approach you, insisting they'll take you straight to a taxi. They'll walk you outside to a taxi not in the proper queue and will expect you to pay them a couple of Euro for getting you there. Just go to the marked taxi queue. If you've never been to a particular city before and if taking a taxi makes sense for you, then it's a good way to see the city on the way to your hotel...could get you pumped for your visit. You can use the metro when doing all of your sightseeing...cheaper and more efficient. BTW, I have taken many taxi rides in Paris, and they're as safe and as professional as anywhere else. English can be iffy...might help to write the address down in advance and hand it to the driver.
Thank you for your responses. We'll be staying at the Meridien Etoile, 81 Boulevard Gouvion Saint-Cyr.
I've taken a lot of taxis in Paris and never had a problem. Here in Bloomington is another story, though.
In addition to all of Pat's great advice, be sure to have your hotel's full address (including postal code in the format 75xxx) printed out to hand to the driver. They cannot, and will not, know the location of every hotel in Paris just by name. If you print a map from the hotel's website and have it to show the driver, that's also helpful (one hotel I've stayed at several times is on a small side street that seems to stymie drivers, even though it's right near the Odeon).
Maria, Pat and the others have provided lots of great tips on using Taxi's in Paris. I normally travel with a main Backpack, Daypack and Camera bag, and have no problems at all using the RER or Metro. How easy that will be may depend on the time-of-day. If you're travelling in peak times the cars can be quite crowded, but I find that I can usually find room. Of course, when travelling on public transit, one has to be vigilant to avoid scammers. I try to "inch my way" towards the door when my stop is getting close. There's often a crush of passengers both getting on and off the cars, so being a bit "pushy" is sometimes necessary. The main issue with the luggage you're hauling might be getting through the turnstiles, but there's often a larger gate off to the side. Happy travels!
I recommend taking a taxi. With two people and luggage it will be easier and not very expensive. Find the official taxi stand and get in line. In your neighborhood, look for a taxi stand so you will know where to catch one. I've started using taxis more and find that scouting out that taxi stand in advance is very helpful.
The two times we were in Paris, we had our hotel order us a taxi. They used a particular taxi service. It was pre-arranged as per price and time they were meeting us The driver met us at the airport, right after we got our luggage. The driver helped us with our luggage. We walked a short distance to get into the taxi. Then when we returned to the airport a week or two later, the driver met us at the hotel (Hotel Le Littre, 6 arron.) at the ordered time. We just paid the driver directly for the service. It was great, as we had five pieces of luggage.
I forgot to mention that once, we were picked up at the train station. We had taken the Eurostar from London. There wasn't any problem meeting our driver
It really boils down to your budget and/or your comfort level navigating the RER/Metro with bags in tow.
Take a taxi for sure. Struggling through the turnstiles and going down steps with large pieces of luggage can be a hassle. We always have ready a printed out name and adress of our hotel. It helps with he language barrier.
When going to Paris we usually take the RER (if flying) then the Metro (flying/train) when we arrive. Tired though we may be, we usually have more patience arriving. We always take a taxi on our return trip to the airport or train station. Metro/RER strikes and or rain can affect your travel time considerably on your return trip. We always arrange for a taxi two days before we leave and haven't been let down yet. Year before last there was a RER strike so only a few were running AND it was raining! Taxi's were nowhere to be had, but our reserved taxi showed up on time and we were off!
Another reason to taxi is that there's no direct line from Gare du Nord to your hotel, which is near the Porte Maillot Metro station. If you Metro you'll have to change trains, another schlep with the luggage. See the map at http://www.ratp.fr/informer/pdf/orienter/f_plan.php. Metro is a great way to get around Paris as a sightseer, so are buses BTW, but I'd use a taxi to get to the hotel with your stuff the first day.
I found it easier to take a taxi to the hotel from the train station. I had its name and address on a card and handed it to the driver. I did not want to deal with the hassle of the metro with all my luggage. I did the same on the way back to the train station. It was worth it to me.
I think it all really depends on the day. If it's rush hour during the summer and you have more bags than hands then taxi. But if its 11am and you have a suitcase and backpack each I think metro is fine. I travel light so I can always use the Metro. I've reluctantly helped other travelers carry their huge suitcases and ginormous backpacks onto the Metro but wasn't too thrilled. I always travel with a carry-on size backpack and a purse. I like the convenience of being able to go wherever whenever. But I travel a lot so I'm silly like that.
I've never found Paris to be as "taxi friendly" as other big cities. In rush hour it is impossible to get a cab. The line at Gare du Nord is always ridiculously long. Is it just me? (I'm not disagreeing that, if you have unwieldy bags, it's a good option. Just saying that on more than one occassion I've had trouble getting a cab when I needed one.)
Call me crazy but I like the adventure of figuring out public transportation when we land abroad.
Hailing a taxi can be almost impossible, partly as they are busy, and partly because we foriegners and often do not seem to know that taxis are legally not able to stop to pick you up off the street if they are within a certain distance of a taxi stand. We often don't know where the taxi stands are so may not realize we are trying to hail a taxi in a forbidden area. This is not a problem when you arrive at most train stations though since they all have offical stands. I have arrived many times to see long lines at train or airport taxi stands,, but find they move quickly and at most have waited 10-15 minutes.. often less. Multiple taxis are constantly pulling up, and their is usually an attendent at front of line that assigns your party to a taxi ( by pointing ) since at places like Gare du Nord i have seen 4-5 taxis being loaded at same time. I will offer one caution.. when your hotel offers a pick up, look at the price, its often ridiculusly high, 100-150 euros,, for what is usually a 45-55 taxi fare.. just have them call a regular taxi, or order one from G7 night before( they have english speaking operators, google for number) and from stations to hotel just use offical taxis from stands. Hotels sometimes make it seem like it such a convenience to have one of their pick ups, but seriuosly its very easy to just go to taxi stand and save 50-100 euros.
I would say the answer really depends on your fitness level. I agree with Thomas that depending on the time of day, you can have a looooong wait for a taxi at the station. The metro could be faster...but you will be shoving your luggage through the turnstiles, and carrying up and down multiple stairs, especially since you'll have to transfer. If you're strong and your bags aren't too heavy, there's no reason not to use the Metro - and you're OK with being assertive and shoving yourself and your stuff on a crowded train. I've taken the Metro with luggage many times. It is much, much easier when you don't have to make a connection, though - a connection in a metro station can and often does involve a long walk and multiple up/down stairs. If that sounds daunting and you're not on a super tight budget, and you don't mind a potentially long wait (it's been 30 minutes for me before), by all means, take a taxi.
The two times we had the Hotel Le Littre book our taxi, it was very practical. Some taxi services make it very reasonable, as they like having a guaranteed reservation/fare. Even if we got stuck in traffic, either direction, it was an arraanged price. We didn't have to worry about the meter running up, as you do hailing a regular taxi. You might find it practical to contact the Hotel Le Littre and ask them for the name of their taxi service. We would definitely use them again.
Elaine, would you be kind enough to tell us just what the taxi cost you.
If I can piggy back on this, thank you for asking a great question... My grandmother and I will be flying in at 8:30AM with a large suitcase each and at least one extra tote of some kind. We are staying at the Esmeralda, across the bridge from Notre Dame. She is 80ish...would it be safe to take the Metro? We are trying to go "cheaply" but her enjoyment and safety are paramount for me.
Thank you for your help!
Jenn I know exactly where that hotel is, stayed right near it last summer. There is no problem jumping on RER and getting off at St Michels and walking there ( 5 minutes ) , but with 80 yr old I would be concerned about her being tired, hauling her luggage and maybe having to climb stairs( which she may have to do at hotel anyways unless you made it clear you needed ground or lowest floor) . Frankly I would take a taxi if I was with an 80 yr old..its a long flight, and there is travel fatique to deal with , you want her to enjoy trip so spend the bit extra for a taxi.. ( it will run between 45-55 euros).