How to reach Paris
News: Due to engineering works, the metro line 3 is currently not stopping at Republique station. If your hotel is near Republique and you were thinking of catching the 3 line to the Arts et Metiers station, think again. If the weather's nice, you can just walk. Otherwise change to line 11.
The CNAM is in the center of Paris. It should be reasonably easy to reach. The nearest metro stop is Arts et Métiers, line 3 (you can use the interactive map although it's in French only). Metropolitan transportation in Paris occurs by means of the subway/underground network (one of the oldest in the world), the RER network (regional trains which run deeper underground than the subway), the bus network and the public taxi network. Taxi rides are cheaper than in Italy or London but more expensive than in the US.
Forget about it. Leave it at home. A car will only slow you down, and set you back some 30 odd Euros for the parking ticket you're almost sure to get.
You can reach Paris by train quite conveniently (possibly more than by plane) from the whole of France and neighbouring countries. There are fast trains to/from London, many cities in Germany and Switzerland, and Milan and Turin in Italy. You can book your train tickets online.
The link to/from London (Eurostar), uses the channel tunnel, and arrives at Gare du Nord in central Paris. It's usually pricey -- more than by low-cost airplane.
The link to/from Milan is a direct TGV train which takes around 7 hours, and which is almost always 30m to 1h late. Booking in advance, you can find one-way 1st class tickets as low as 50EUR and 2nd class as low as 30EUR (no changes/refund). It's more frequent to find 70EUR 1st class and 50EUR 2nd class (partially cheangeable), and the regular fares are 120/95 EUR or thereabouts (fully changeable and refundable).
Paris is served by three airports.
- The main one is Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris; it is a main European hub-like, huge, multi-terminal affair where it can easily take you 15-20 minutes walking in order to switch terminals. European low-cost flight companies such as EasyJet often land at terminal 2B, which is one of the farthest from the metropolitan transportation station. Some other low-cost companies land at terminal 3. Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) airport is served by two RER stations (RER line 'B'): one for terminals 1 (mostly mainstream European airlines) and 3 (mostly low-cost companies) and another for terminal 2 (which is the largest terminal, itself partitioned into 6 sub-terminals 2A, ..., 2F). Coming from Paris, the first station you find is that for terminals 1 and 3, whereas terminal 2 is the last on the line. RER tickets from CDG to central Paris are just over 8 EUR. There are also several bus services from CDG to central Paris, whose price varies between 9 and 20 EUR. Minibus services may cost around 35 EUR, whereas a taxi ride will set you back 70 EUR and beyond if you get stuck in rush-hour traffic.
- Another important Paris airport is Orly, south of Paris, with two terminals: west (Orly-ouest) and south (Orly-sud). Quite a lot of airlines have flights to Orly, both mainstream and low-cost, including EasyJet. Orly-ouest is mostly for Air France flights, all the other being stationed at Orly-sud. Orly is geographically closer to central Paris than CDG. You can take the RER 'B' line (over 10 EUR, and there is a monorail shuttle taking you to/from the "Antony" RER 'B' station from/to Orly) or a bus (6.50 EUR last time I used it, probably a little more) to the RER 'B' stop "Denfert-Rochereau" in central Paris. Outside of rush hours, the bus turns out to be both faster and cheaper.
- The last airport worth mentioning is Paris-Beauvais, used by Ryanair and a couple of other low-cost airlines. Do not be fooled: this airport has little to do with Paris. It's 70 Km north-west of Paris, and is linked to Paris by means of a bus (detaining monopoly over Paris-Beauvais transfers) whose one-way price is around 15 EUR and time of travel is 1h 30m. So when you see Ryanair's low prices to Paris don't forget to add (at least) 30 EUR to the price. Another "interesting feature" of this airport is that there is one bus per flight, and you must take your bus (a little leeway is tolerated, but at your own risk). The snag? A bus has fewer seats than an airplane! Unbelievable but true. Your bus leaves Paris (Porte Maillot, metro line 1 and RER 'C') 3h before your flight departs from Beauvais airport, which means that if your flight is at 7:30AM you have to be at Porte Maillot at 4:30AM at the latest, but more realistically at 4:15AM -- since at that time the metro is still closed, you'll need to fork out more money for a taxi. And when you get there, you'll discover that there isn't even a waiting lounge. It's just asphalt in a parking space, with a lot of sleepy, confused, wet (if it's raining) Ryanair customers with only a 90% chance of boarding their own buses. When the bus arrives, its driver will see the cluster of people waiting (no line, of course) and will sadistically park his bus as far as possible. This, of course, is the concerted signal for the bus assault: tons of human mass and their trolleys all running towards the bus to get there first and secure a seat. I swear I once saw one of these drivers re-ignite his bus and go re-park it somewhere else, so he could see the human mass collectively groan, stop, and re-assault. The airport itself, assuming you ever get there, has improved now, and really resembles a small provincial airport; but until a couple of years ago it was just a pavilion tent where it rained inside. If your flight is past midnight and cancelled, your only chance is to sleep at the local motel, which you'll pay yourself (60EUR/night) because, as I discovered the hard way, Ryanair is not part of IATA (the international airline travel association) so it does not conform to the usual customer protection rules.
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