Apps for Paris and France

I am requesting suggestions for quality Apps for iPad and smartphone travel in Paris and vicinity from the RS community. I certainly already have RS podcasts downloaded. Is there a recommended Metro App? Other apps that support or enlighten visits to sites? I will be traveling with 6 "digital natives" (high school students) in early April and I'd like to steer them to something useful on their devices. I will encourage them to put the devices down and BE in the moment, but resources to study during transit and other wait-time could be beneficial.

Posted by Laura
Lakewood, USA
11 posts

Ahh, yes, the roaming charges. Data roaming charges have been relayed to the students and their parents. These charges will influence how they use their data plans. I certainly hope they don't bring home a 5-digit phone bill as a souvenir, either. I am looking for Apps that can be used with wi-fi that we might be able to pick up (free) out in the city and at our hotel. Also, apps that can be downloaded ahead of time at home that don't rely on ANY data roaming or wi-fi to use.
I already had RS Audio Europe loaded up. I added RS Audio Tours and the Paris metro, too. (thanks) Keep the suggestions coming! I love them.

Posted by Stephen
Fort Mill, SC, USA
293 posts

By RS podcasts, are you referring to the RS Audio Europe App? It contains more than just podcasts. It also contains walking tours as well as museum tours. Trip Advisor also has an app that provides some good information. It is called Offline City Guide and you select a city and download information such as walking tours, top sites, restaurants, etc. It's pretty good and provides different information than the RS app. The maps and walking tours are good.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

Trip Advisor has good free city guides with offline maps, restaurants, sights etc. Tripomatic is pretty cool too.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21480 posts

Laura, One aspect of your post raised a huge "red flag". Travel with 6 "digital natives" could be a big problem if they intend to use their Smartphones the same way they do at home. The charges for data roaming can easily reach the five figure level, so that will limit the type of Apps that you'll be able to use. I'll try to suggest some Apps in a few minutes when I have access to a larger screen (using an iPhone at the moment). Cheers!

Posted by Jeanine
Pacific NW, USA
84 posts

I like Paris Metro by mxData. You can search for metro stations, search for the fastest route or the route with the fewest changes. You can map out routes and save them for later. Best of all, it's free!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21480 posts

Laura, Data roaming charges are not "the whole story" with Smartphones. Whether or not their phones will even work in Europe will depend on which network each of your "digital natives" uses, and which model of phone they're each using. If their phones will work, they'll also have to be concerned with receiving calls from home, as they'll pay for EACH incoming call. It's especially annoying to get calls in the "wee hours" of the morning from a moronic acquaintance who couldn't be bothered to check the time difference. Most carriers offer "travel roaming" packages, so it would be a good idea to check that. As I mentioned, data roaming charges can be HUGE. A traveller from Vancouver found that out last year. After a 2.5 week trip, she returned home to a data roaming bill of $35,000! A couple of App's I find useful: > Metro Paris Subway (Presselite) - after looking at several similar App's, I chose this one and it's been great. I believe it can be used in "offline mode", but that doesn't allow notifications. > WordRoll French EF (TranCreative Software) - this is a good French-English dictionary (they have versions for other languages as well). > Jibbigo French English Speech Translator - this is a VERY clever translator app, which allows one to speak short phrases in either language, and it then translates and speaks the other language (they have other languages as well). I've asked native speakers in both French and German how accurate it is, and they've all said "it's not perfect but it gets the meaning across reasonably well". I believe there is an off-line version. All of the App's that I've mentioned are for iOS, as that's what I use. Cheers!

Posted by Lee
1017 posts

Some apps we have found useful in France and in general are: Collins French-English dictionary - we like this because it usually gives more than one context in which a word or phrase is used. This may be the case with other similar dictionaries but Collins is the only one with which I'm familiar. We tend to use it most often in restaurants where there's always something unfamiliar on a menu. Michelin Restaurants France - has dining recommendations and restaurant reviews just about wherever you are in France. Uses your phone's GPS to find you then gives nearby recommendations and uses its offline maps to direct you to your choice. We've found some dining gems using it. You can also use it to research restaurants ahead of your trip. Skype - with a good wifi connection calls are cheap to anyplace. There are other Internet voice apps, some which advertise free calls, but I've only used Skype which I find easy to use and reliable. Skype also has cheap texting though I can't speak from experience about that. There are wifi-finder apps available which include France. I've not used mine (Wifi-Finder) in France where it shows many free sites in Paris. I assume you've kept wifi in mind when booking reservations.

Posted by Lee
1017 posts

Part 2 For travel in general, a "white sound" app blocks out unfamiliar noises at night in hotels. Noise Box is good. It works when the phone is in airplane mode with the phone function turned off which prevents unwanted calls inbound. Also, night lite apps turn your phone's camera light into a flashlight. Many airlines have apps which will keep you abreast of your flight details. Flightview works for all airlines. Gate guru has info on airport layouts and gates. About data and phone use, wise management allows use of smartphones in Europe without running up a big bill. I suggest having each person with a phone which works in Europe sign up for the roaming plans with their US service provider to lessen the magnitude of a surprise billing after the trip

Posted by Kim
988 posts

This is one that you need to be signed in to use, but it can be helpful even if you only check it out, say, each morning before leaving your lodging. It's the app for RATP (the institution that runs the Paris metro and bus system). Besides having the usual maps, etc, if you click on the "Traffic" button on the side, it tells you about any substantial delays on any particular lines (I.e. I check before going to work in the morning because it will tell me if there is a delay on the Line 1). It also tells you if the is something going on (demonstration, half-marathon, Tour de France, etc) that will affect your route. You can also check out how soon a bus will be at a particular stop, etc. I think it's all in French, which will be good for your students to practice! Also you can go to the official City of Paris website ( and download their free app, which also notifies about goings-on around town (for example this morning it also has the information about the route for the half-marathon). And check out the blog of American expat in Paris David Lebovitz and his Paris Pastry App (although I think there's a small fee for that one).

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
957 posts

I think this thread would be more informative if we asked the kids which apps we should have. I think their travel will be more educational when their phones are not working.