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All Hail the Taxis of Paris

Story by Sophie Delon

Taxis are a regular part of the landscape of the French capital, with some twenty thousand or so circulating in Paris and the city’s suburbs. They’re clean, comfortable and highly regulated. What’s more, they’re getting a new look, so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to give you the inside scoop on how to Taxi in Paris.

Taxi? Uh…taxi.

To make it easier to see whether the taxi is occupied or not, Paris taxis are getting a new light on the roof of the vehicle. If the taxi is available, it shines green. If it’s occupied or on the way to pick up a booking, it’s red. Pretty simple and easy to remember. Green, go. Red, don’t bother.

So, how do you get a taxi in Paris? It’s easy.

  • Head for a taxi stand (called “taxi ranks” by Parisians)
  • Call a taxi company (G7 has a dedicated phone line for English speakers: +33 (0)1 41 27 66 99 and lets you book online in English)
  • Use the phone at the taxi stand (if you speak French)
  • Try to hail one on the street

Fares that don’t seem fair.

The cost of a journey, which starts at €2.30 is determined by three factors:

  • A fixed-price fee that appears on the meter at the beginning of the journey. A small notice in the vehicle must indicate the conditions of the application of this fee;
  • The rate per kilometer, variable according to whether it is day or night time, a working day or public holiday, and the final destination if it is outside Paris; and
  • The waiting time or slow speed which replaces the rate per kilometer in the event of a traffic jam or the taxi stopping. The amount of the fare must be clearly visible on the vehicle’s meter and the amount of any extra costs must be added here.

The driver can also charge supplemental fees for more than three adult passengers, pets, more than one piece of luggage in the trunk (or boot, if you’re a Brit), and if the journey begins in a station.

Because the French like to confuse people, they’ve tiered their rates according to the time of day, and the day of the week. The three-tiered rates within Paris and the périphérique are as follows:

Rate A

Applies from 10am to 5pm, Monday thru Saturday. Rate per kilometer: €0.92

Rate B

Applies from 5pm to 10am, Monday thru Saturday; from 7am to 12pm on Sundays and all holidays. Rate per kilometer: €1.17

Rate C

Applies from midnight to 7am on Sundays. Rate per kilometer: €1.42

Supplemental rates:

  • €3 per adult after the third passenger
  • €1 per piece of luggage in the trunk after the first piece

There is a minimum fare of €6.10, so if your fare is less than that, please know that the driver (chauffeur) is not trying to pull a fast one on you. As for tipping, round up your fare or add 10 percent to be fair.

Taxis for the disabled.

Two Parisian taxi companies, G7 Horizon and PMR (Tel +33 (0) 6 14 67 75 02), have taxis adapted for the disabled, with drivers who have had training in transporting clients with any of “the four disabilities” (physical, visual, auditory and mental). Rates are the same, but it is advisable to make a booking in advance, by telephone or on the taxi company’s website.

Show me the money (or how to pay your driver).

Taxi drivers accepting payment by bank card display a notice to this effect on the back side window and are required to accept this method of payment for an amount superior or equal to €15. Otherwise, the client must pay by cash. Payment by check is so rarely accepted that we shouldn’t even mention it, but we did because a notice in the taxi says as much. There are rumors that you can arrange to pay by check (if you have a French bank) when booking the taxi, but we don’t know anyone who has actually tried this.

Final tips.

From either of the Paris airports or any of the train stations, get in the queue for the taxi. You’ll take the first available taxi once you get to the front of the line, and your chances of getting one who speaks English (or admits to it) is about 30 percent. If your French is limited, your best bet is to have your address in Paris either printed out or written down so that you can just hand it to the driver.

If you’re ordering a taxi from your hotel or vacation apartment, you can request an English-speaking driver, and even one that accepts credit cards. Just don’t expect that you’ll actually get either.

If you do find a driver who speaks English, get his/her card so that you can call them directly for a ride.

Drivers can refuse to drive anyone who has a pet (unless it’s a guide dog), who is drunk, and who is wearing “dubious” clothing or has genuine hygiene issues. They can also turn away passengers if their baggage is too bulky, or if the driver is ending their shift within the next half hour and your destination puts them too far away from their home base to clock out on time.

If you leave something in the taxi, the driver is supposed to turn it over to the “Lost and Found” (Service des objets trouvés de la Ville de Paris) at the Préfecture de Police (36, rue des des Morillons, Paris 15th Tel +33 (0) 8 21 00 25 25). If it’s an object with a modicum of value, don’t hold your breath that they’ll actually do so.

If you have a dispute with the driver, you should get the taxi’s identification number and send a letter, preferably by registered mail, to theBureau des taxis et transports publics (Department for taxis and public transport) within the Préfecture de Police at 36 rue des Morillons, Paris 75732 (Tel +33 (0) 1 55 76 20 05).

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3 Responses to “All Hail the Taxis of Paris”

  1. Lindsey says:

    I’ve seen this new red light! It’s so much easier to determine when one is available – I thought I was imagining the difference but it’s so much more efficient. Now if only there weren’t such a dearth of taxis…..

  2. Karen Graham says:

    I make sure to only use the ones with “Parisien” on them. My friend and I were ripped off by another company outside of the Musee d’Orsay. He bumped up the meter two or three times during the short ride to the Luxemborg metro station. Charged 25 euro.

    The “Parisien” cabs have never over charged me and the drivers have been so courteous.

  3. Linda Donahue says:

    Excellent tip, Karen. The Parisien taxis are licensed and, therefore, must adhere to the codes.

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