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Directions in Paris after arriving by Eurostar

We will be arriving in Paris from London and according to the RS guide, the station we arrive at will be Gare Du Nord. Our hotel is near the Eiffel Tower. I looked at a few metro sites recommended in the RS guide, but did not find them very user friendly. I am looking for the best way to get to our hotel. This will be our first time in Paris and we do not speak the language. One site I looked at had two times for this journey, an hour and then over 2 hours, seemed like a long trip. Would it be better to taxi or would that distance be very expensive? I would rather take the metro, but with our luggage, don't want to
"Stand out" too much. Just wondering if others have done this route and would appreciate any recommendations for best way to get to our hotel on arrival day.

Posted by
2441 posts

Since this is your first time in Paris and you don't speak French, I would just take a cab, unless you could have your hotel arrange for a car service to pick you up and take you to your hotel.

Posted by
6950 posts

We just about always use public transportation in most major European cities. If you go on Google Maps and hit the + button 3-4 times, you may see your hotel on an icon. You can also see the Metro stations. That may give you an indication to how far the hotel is from the Metro station.
We travel using Rick Steves' packing list (with minor changes), and transporting luggage on public transit is no issue for us.
I remember the first time we came into Gare Du Nord from CDG. We went to the information booth, and it was staffed with young Parisians who refused to speak English. Thousands and thousands of Englishmen arrive there every day. That's Paris.

Posted by
11450 posts

bk.. first there is no way any journey inside Paris takes that long.. Secondly a taxi is not a bad idea.. but if you want to do public transport then make sure you are more then capable of handling your luggage.. and possible stairs.

If taking a taxi you MUST only accept a taxi ride from the taxi rank.. and the taxi must be metered.. NO set rates. It should run about 20-25 euros depending on traffic and time of day.

What hotel are you staying at.. folks can give you better information if you give specific hotel

Posted by
1157 posts

We've been arriving in Paris for years on the Eurostar from London. We always take a taxi to our hotel even though we know the metro and can speak a little French. It's around 20-25 Euros to anyplace in central Paris plus one euro for each piece of luggage. We have a print out of our hotel complete with address to hand to the taxi driver. The ride across central Paris with all the famous monuments in full view is priceless and they will deliver you right to the front door with no hassle. It's probably around 20-25 minutes depending on traffic, from Gare du Nord to near the ET. Relax and enjoy the ride.

Posted by
533 posts

If by "not standing out," you mean that you're hoping to keep it a secret from all of Paris that you're a tourist who doesn't speak French, then I'm sorry to say, but you're going to fail at that - and it's going to detract from your enjoyment of the city. The good news is that Parisians have all seen foreign tourists before, and they're not going to think any less of you for being another one. So relax and enjoy Paris, and don't worry about "standing out."

If you've never taken an urban subway before, then I can see how the Paris metro would be a little intimidating, but if you have, then it's nothing to be afraid of. All the different train lines are clearly marked with both a color and a letter or number, and once you're on the train, there are plenty of clear signs and announcements for you to keep track of where you are. I don't speak French either, and I found it easy to navigate.

Whatever sites were telling you that your trip would take 1-2 hours were wrong. According to the RATP site, it should take between 30 and 40 minutes to get from Gare du Nord to the Eiffel Tower. Depending on when exactly you leave, the fastest route is either to take the RER B train to the RER C train or the Metro 4 train to the Metro 6 train. (RER trains go faster and make fewer stops than Metro trains, but they come less frequently, so you might be waiting a while for your train to come. All Metro tickets are good for RER trains as well.)

Taking the Metro/RER will involve some walking to get to your train platform, and it may involve some stairs as well, so if you have A LOT of luggage, a cab might still be your best bet. But if you can navigate the London Underground (for example) with your luggage, there's no reason you can't navigate the Paris Metro as well.

Posted by
128 posts

Thanks, as always, for prompt replies. I thought the 2 hr time frame didn't sound right, so I think I didn't navigate that site correctly. I have lived in Wash DC and New York, so am very familiar with subway systems. I guess I was referring to "standing out" as looking "totally lost" in a country where we don't speak the language. Of course, it makes sense that Paris is full of tourists, so we probably won't look different than others. We will be coming from a RS Best of London tour, so we may feel "pretty good" about using the metro, but it's nice to know that a taxi is a good option too!

Posted by
3580 posts

With two or more people and luggage, just take a taxi. You can figure out the Metro later. Follow the signs to the taxi rank outside the building. There will be a very organized and fast-moving line. Ignore anybody who comes up to you and tries to take you to a different taxi. They will charge too much.

Posted by
31521 posts

bk,

As the others have mentioned, taking a Taxi is the easiest option, but also the most expensive. If you're arriving in mid-to-late afternoon, the traffic could be thick. I'm assuming that your hotel "near the Eiffel Tower" is in the Rue Cler area? It would help to know the name of the hotel.

I would have no hesitation in using the Metro, although that will likely be crowded in late afternoon also. The route I'd probably use is Line 4 (direction Mairie de Montrouge) to Strasbourg Saint-Denis (3 stops?), then transfer to Line 8 (direction Balard) and disembark at the Ecole Militaire station (9 stops?).

You may want to buy a Carnet (10 tickets) when you arrive at Gare du Nord, as you'll likely be using them during your trip. Note that you must hold onto these until after you've left the Metro system. As I recall, these are required at both the entry and exit fare gates. You may find it helpful to have a look at the excellent Paris By Train website.

Posted by
8293 posts

Yes, as Ken advises, check out parisbytrain.com. It will allay your fears. However, take a taxi and be done with it first least this one time. Also look at tomsguidetoparis.com, wonderful for first time visitors.

Posted by
11443 posts

My suggestion would be to figure out the route from Gard du Nord to your hotel via metro.

Then, when you get to the station, you can decide if you want to take the Metro or just hop into a taxi.

See how you feel. Are you okay or is it a little overwhelming? Are the crowds too much? Would you just feel happiest in the back of a cab?

I used to always take public transportation everywhere. Now, I routinely take taxis if I feel like it. Sometimes it's just easier to sit back, let the driver do his/her job, and arrive at the front door of your intended location.

Let me also throw out one other possibility---Uber.

Posted by
8293 posts

The No. 42 bus, which you can catch just behind the Gare du Nord, goes very close to the Tour Eiffel, with a stop at Champs du Mars. You could contact your hotel to see if the No 42 stops anywhere close to the hotel, and if so get walking directions. You can buy bus/metro tickets on the concourse of the Gare. Oh, and also at the Eurostar terminal in London. Nevertheless, a taxi would be easier and your introduction to the metro and buses could wait until the next day.

Posted by
128 posts

Thanks, Ken, for the ParisbyTrain info, great site, the metro makes more sense to me after looking at this information. We are staying at the Hotel de Londres Eiffel and reviews have indicated that it is a 5 minute walk to the ET. I like the idea of keeping our options open, deciding on metro vs taxi on how adventurous vs overwhelmed we feel after navigating ourselves from London to Paris. We are still 6 mos out from our trip, but time is flying by and since I am the "planner", I like to get all the info I can beforehand...thus, constantly perusing the RS travel forum. Thanks again for all the suggestions!

Posted by
763 posts

We were in exactly the same situation last June for our first trip to Europe. Three days in London, then Eurostar to Paris for Rick Steves tour based at Hotel de Londres Eiffel. We didn't have a huge amount of time between arriving on the train and needing to meet the tour group at the hotel, so wanted to be sure we wouldn't have any trouble getting there. We made arrangements through the hotel for a car service to pick us up at Gare du Nord. Cost was about 40 euro. The driver met us at the station, holding a sign (actually an iPad) displaying our name. We were on our way a few minutes after getting off the train. The drive to the hotel is 30 minutes or so, but seemed less because we were sitting back just enjoying the sights and the fact that we were in Paris. We had plenty of time to learn the Metro later, and used it extensively during the week. But for rookies like we were, I'd certainly recommend the car service, which made the whole thing utterly painless and worry-free. I'm sure a taxi would be fine, too, and probably cheaper, as others have told me. But I don't regret for a moment spending a little extra to have everything go smoothly. You can email Arnaud or any of the desk staff at the hotel and they can arrange things for you.

Posted by
13694 posts

I just took a look at the map, and the directions Ken gave is exactly how I would do it.

Metro is actually a little easier to figure out when you're there than on paper, IMHO. Carnets of tickets are easy to purchase, and the only thing you need to remember is to be on the right platform for the train going the direction you want to go.

Take note of the terminus on each end of a metro line. To get your hotel. you'll want to travel in the direction of Marie de Montrouge on Line 4: that's the final destination but you'll get off at Strasbourg-St. Denis on the route. Then find your platform for Line 8: the terminus for the direction you want to go on that line is Balard but you'll get off at Ecole Militaire along the way. Does this make sense?

As you'll change trains at Strasbourg without going outside the station (outside of the turnstiles) you'll do this journey on a single ticket! Feed it, magnetic trip down, into the turnstile for the metro platform at Gare du Nord, and be sure to retrieve it when when it spits out the other end of the machine; it's your 'proof of purchase' should an authority decide to check. Some stops may also have a turnstile that you'll have to feed the ticket into to exit the station.

It will NOT take you anywhere near the amount of time that you'd originally figured, don't worry! :O)

Posted by
12984 posts

Who has not "stood out" as in giving out the "totally lost" vibes, especially when you have tourist written all over you, as in the case with me? Even in cities in the US for me upon arrival. If they don't speak or refuse to speak English, deal with it, go to the next person. In 1992 I remember at a restaurant in Munch seeing a group of not so discreet Americans being approached by the waitress, was asked if she spoke English, she hardly answered, then walked away. leaving that group just sitting there. Then another waiter came by who did speak English.

Posted by
31521 posts

bk,

Thanks for the information on your hotel. The hotel website also suggests Ecole Militaire metro stop, however be aware it will be a walk of several blocks from the Metro station. I'd probably use Avenue Bosquet (if you pass restaurant Le Bosquet, you know you're going in the right direction), then left on Rue de Grenelle and right on Rue Augereau.

I routinely walk to the Eiffel Tower from Rue Cler, and it's not a difficult walk but takes about 15 minutes. I wanted to mention that in case it had a bearing on your choice between Taxi and Metro. I use a Backpack so would probably still use the Metro.

Posted by
5262 posts

Just in case you're not exhausted from all the free advice you're getting, I'll chime in. Take a taxi with all the bags, door to door. When you get off the train you'll head down the track into the main station area. Turn right when you leave the tracks and you'll see a door leading outside. That's where the taxis are. Get in line and soon you'll be on your way. Having the hotel address written down will solve any language problem with the driver. The drive will be, as someone said, a great introduction to the city.

Someone suggested the bus -- a great alternative to Metro for sightseeing generally, especially if you're not in a hurry, but much slower and pretty unpleasant (for you and other passengers) with the bags. Though I'm sure that, after a Rick Steves tour, you'll be packed light. If you weren't before, you will be when it's over! ;-)

Posted by
128 posts

Nice to hear of someone who did the same journey to our hotel , thanks for the info regarding the private car. We will be arriving the day before our RS tour begins , so won't feel rushed. Thanks also for the thorough step by step instructions , they will be nice to have if we go by metro.

Posted by
11450 posts

A private car .. is very expensive .. a taxi will run about 25.. maybe 30 euros.. just saying..

Posted by
7701 posts

One thing to be wary of -- and someone touched on it above, but I think it bears repeating, and I am NOT trying to scare you, but to empower you with information so you'll be more confident upon arriving -- is that when you arrive at the Gare du Nord unfortunately there are all sorts of aggressive "taxi" touts who will try to get you to go with them -- even when you're IN THE OFFICIAL LINE FOR TAXIS (which can be rather long -- this would be the advantage of reserving the private car and driver ahead, you don't have to negotiate that melee). Just make sure you go to the official taxi stand and stay in that line (which again can be long, one of the downsides of taking a taxi from Gare du Nord) until the official at the front of the line puts you in a taxi.

(I'll note that the lines at Gare du Nord are also long at the metro to buy the tickets. If you're thinking of doing that, you can normally save yourself some time by buying tickets in the café car on the Eurostar).

Again, I'm sorry to shine a light on this not-very-attractive-vision of arriving in Paris, but forewarned is forearmed!!

Posted by
128 posts

Sometimes I have to "chuckle" as to how the questions on some threads are answered! Love all this input, but really had to laugh about "Mel", who knew he had such talent, ha ha!!! Although we have months to decide, think we will probably go for the "middle option" and grab a taxi. I have read about making sure we get an "appropriate taxi", but still nice to have that reminder again. Again, thanks to all for the great suggestions!!!

Posted by
334 posts

Taxi- Last Sunday March 13th at 8:52 PM from Gare du Nord to the Ecole Militaire Metro(location area) was
12 euro/ 2adults 1 child 3 pieces of luggage. Have your hotel address printed or a photo of the address to show the driver. Time on Sunday evening was 20 minutes.
I have used the metro to go to hotels but this train station has I believe 6-8 metros lines so there is lots of activity, people and walking with luggage is a pain. Also depending on the metro stop you may be carrying luggage up a flight of stairs to exit certain metros. I always leave Paris with a few unused metro tickets in case I return and will need them to the metro to my hotel.
Well worth the money to get to an unfamiliar address with luggage. Bought the 5 day Paris Visite Pass for 5 days and away we went.
The Eiffel Tower area metros are at least a ten minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.
So I would definitely Taxi- the costs will depend on time of day. It will be well worth the money.

Posted by
334 posts

Also the taxi stand is out the side of the station, not the front of the station. If you are facing the front of the train station go to the right. Taxi's are lined up out there. If you have a pre-arrange taxi the call out charge can be 11-15 at a minimum above the fee to the hotel.

Posted by
24 posts

We just did this exact thing about two weeks ago. We did this with two adults and two children via the metro system. It's quite easy if you know what metro stop is nearest the hotel you are staying at and you can email your hotel for that information. Our hotel was about two blocks from the Eiffel tower, but there was a metro stop right in front of the hotel. We spent 10 days traveling, each of us with a small roll-a-board and a backpack. Made train and metro travel very easy and even I am surprised that we did this so successfully with a teen and a tween in tow.

As for 'standing out'....everyone leaving the train station is a traveler of some sort and people walk all over Paris and in and out of the metro stations pulling suitcases so you'll just be one of many. I found that most of the Parisians were friendly and helpful (even when I got my suitcase caught in a turnstile like and idiot, someone came to my rescue). I also found that a great many people spoke at least some English. I agree with the person that said the maps in the Metro stations are easier to understand than the maps online, and if you've used any kind of subway system previously, you'll have no problem using the metro and it's much, much less expensive than a taxi. Even if you haven't used a subway before, this is pretty simple.

From the Train station you'll need to start on the RER B (blue line) heading south toward "Robinson, St. Remy, Les-Chevruse" You'll connect with a west bound line, Probably RER C, but it will greatly depend on where you hotel is. Our Eiffel tower hotel actually was off three converging lines, but the yellow #10 got us from the RER B to our hotel.