Ooh la la, aidez moi!
September 9, 2011 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Paris Filter: I have 2 nuts-and-bolts questions about an upcoming trip to Paris. Bonus level of difficulty: Need to get from the 6th to CDG on New Year's Day.

We're going to Paris! Yay! Two questions:

We need to get from the 6th (Metro Odeon) to CDG on January 1st for a 1:30pm flight back to the states. How should we get there? Will the regular trains/buses be running on the 1st? And a thought about what time we need to leave town to make it in good time for that flight?

And what's this about the chip credit cards vs. the old-skool American-style cards? Will my regular bank card work in an ATM? Will businesses & touristy stuff like museums be able to swipe my old-fashioned credit card?

posted by BlahLaLa to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (14 answers total)
I can't help too much with your transport questions -- I decided to just give in ot the cab, because someone else was footing the bill, but I thought they were expensive. My friends trying to convince me to take the metro told me to leave the montmartre area three hours before my flight (1 hr to airport).

as for the credit card chip thing, you should be able to find an atm that will work with your non-chipped card. just in case, visit during business hours so you can ask a clerk for assistance. Businesses will be able to deal with you too, but you generally can't use the little swipy machine that's provided for customers to operate themselves -- you'll have to let the clerk swipe it him/herself.

The only place I found myself unable to purchase was at the unmanned subway station. Luckily, a ticket was not an urgent need so I just waited until I was at a manned station -- the clerk seems not ot generally want to deal with ticket sales (he's more for information or more complicated transactions), but i showed him the lack of chip in my card and he immediately understood.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 5:27 PM on September 9, 2011

Take Line 4 direction Porte de Clignancourt and get off at Les Halles and NOT Chatelet, which is the stop before. While still underground, transfer to the RER B direction Charles De Galles.

I assume you'll have a tonne of suitcases. If not, it's actually probably easier to walk from where you're staying to St. Michel Notre Dame and take the RER B from there, direction Charles De Galles.

Sometimes the RER B has a direct train after Gare Du Nord straight to CDG, so look at the TV screen and see if the next lists all the stops or something like DIRECT.

Maybe leave your hotel around 9:00 a.m.? Straight up, taking the RER with suitcases totally sucks so if you have 50 euros the cab is 100 percent worth it. Just saying...
posted by fantasticninety at 5:30 PM on September 9, 2011

Thanks for the answers so far. Are cabs readily available? Do you try to flag them down on a main street? Or do you have to phone? And remember -- it'll be January 1st, so will they be around??
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:43 PM on September 9, 2011

Straight up, taking the RER with suitcases totally sucks so if you have 50 euros the cab is 100 percent worth it. Just saying...

True fact. Did it once, never again. Though I would do it again if I just had a carry on, in which case from the 6th I would just hoof it to the RER B Luxembourg station. I would set aside at least an hour for the train trip, 40 minutes if taking a cab.

(Seeing your cab question on preview, you can't flag them down on a main street. Ask your hotel desk to phone for one ahead of time.)

Your regular bank card (as long as it is a debit card with a major credit card company logo on it) will work in ATMs, but not in most ticket vending machines. Those require the chip and pin. I used my Amex credit card and my Mastercard-branded debit in stores all over with no trouble. Be sure to call your credit card companies and bank to let them know of your travels so they don't stop your cards when they see foreign transactions.
posted by dayintoday at 5:46 PM on September 9, 2011

dayintoday is right about Luxembourg being closer. I had only mentioned St. Michel because it's downhill which would be easier if you did have the suitcases.

The RER will run on January 1st.

If you go with a cab and you're staying at a hotel, just get them to book you one in advance. If not, go to Le Depart right next to the Seine and there's a big taxi stand there. You CAN hail a cab to take you to the airport, but it's way less convenient than booking one in advance.

Enjoy Paris.
posted by fantasticninety at 5:52 PM on September 9, 2011

Double bonus-level of difficulty: We're not going to be in a hotel, so we won't have a concierge to help. And actually I won't have a phone, either. So any other ideas about how to get a cab? Street payphone?
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:53 PM on September 9, 2011

Someone will come up with a better idea, but if you were hard up, you could go to a larger hotel's bar for a drink (even a Coke) and then walk out with your bags like you had just checked out, no?
posted by troywestfield at 7:05 PM on September 9, 2011

I, as a first-time international traveler, had no problems taking my giant suitcase on the RER. Getting the suitcase to/from the train was the hardest part, and fortunately, I only had to go about 2 blocks. If you can't find a cab, take the train.

Nthing your card will work at ATMs but not Metro machines.
posted by donajo at 7:44 PM on September 9, 2011

There are taxi stands where you can hail a cab, see this list. However, I have seen Parishuttle recommended a number of times, and they are EUR40 plus tip for two people in a shared shuttle van.

The RER is really not a bad way to go, though, even with suitcases. It takes a while but if you've got wheeled suitcases it's not difficult. Just be especially careful on RER Ligne B, where the pickpockets prey on jetlagged travelers.
posted by wnissen at 8:37 PM on September 9, 2011

If you're staying anywhere near the Air France Bus route (.jpg) you might want to consider that. I used to live a couple of blocks away from one of the stops on the route (Porte Maillot) and took the AF bus exclusively to make my many (100+) trips to/from CDG. You do not need to be flying Air France to use the bus.

Possible Metro ride to a stop but overall cheaper than a cab, more expensive but easier than schlepping bags on the train. YMMV.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:38 PM on September 9, 2011

An alternative to the train is one of the air france buses see here. [hapax_legomenon has it on preview]

Take a taxi to one on the Paris end points (Opera, Etoile, Gare de Lyon or Gare Montparnasse) and take the bus (something like 15 Euro). Beats getting caught in a taxi in traffic to/from the airport, and you still don't need to carry your bags on the trains.

Never had a problem using a chip-less credit card. Many Taxis will not accept credit cards, some will only accept visa/MC. Most ATMs will work although the one's at the airport terminal 1 (HSBC I think) did not accept AMEX the last time I tried.
posted by NoDef at 8:45 PM on September 9, 2011

There are taxis right here as well, which is just next to Metro Odéon. Not as many, but you can check them out before January 1st and just speak to one of the drivers in pigeon French/English and find out who will meet you the day of.

Don't over think this. IMHO, cabbing is easiest. If not, leg it to RER Luxembourg or St. Michel and just enjoy Paris.
posted by fantasticninety at 9:21 AM on September 10, 2011

Just to follow up: We ended up using G7 Taxis, which have a specific phone number for English inquiries. We called the night before and the taxi arrived right on schedule the next morning. (Which was nice, because the night before was new year's eve, and I was a little nervous that we'd get lost in the shuffle.)

And we decided on taxis both ways, just because it seemed like much, much less hassle to deal with before/after long, international flights. And with a kid, and all the luggage, etc etc. If we hadn't had the kid with us we might have done the taxi or bus options.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:02 AM on January 9, 2012

Oh, also: Taxi from CDG to the 6th on a weekday afternoon cost around 45 euros. (It was a semi-holiday, 2 days after xmas.) Taxi from the 6th back to CDG on Jan 1 cost around 65 euros.

Also, we had no trouble using the credit card anywhere, including in the taxi. ATM - took me 2 tries to find an ATM with the symbol (plus? Now i don't remember) that I was looking for, but once found it worked fine.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:04 AM on January 9, 2012

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