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Paris

Paris Travel Information

When to Go

As the old song says, Paris is at its best in springtime, even if it is sometimes a little wet. In winter Paris has all sorts of cultural events going on, while in summer the weather is warm and lazy - sometimes sizzling. In August, when Parisians flee for the beaches to the west and south, many restaurateurs lock up and leave town too, but this is changing rapidly and you'll find considerably more places open in summer than even a decade ago. Things can get a bit hectic around Bastille Day and towards the end of the year so reservations at this time are a good idea.

Region: France

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Getting Around

Paris is surprisingly pedestrian-friendly: it's compact and there are few hills. Watch out on pedestrian crossings, though - cars tend not to stop.

The Voguéo métro fluvial ('metro boat') currently services a series of stops in the south-eastern part of the city, with the Gare d'Austerlitz as its northern terminus. There are river shuttles along the Seine, but these cater more to tourists wanting to slowly soak up the sights along the way than to commuters trying to get somewhere.

Using the Vélib'  system has made cycling in Paris simple. Start by setting up a Vélib' account at any bike station's multilingual terminal using any major credit card, providing it has a microchip and pin number. The multigeared bikes are designed for cyclists aged from 14, and are fitted with an antitheft lock and front/rear lights but not helmets. In general, you have to sign up either short term or long term, and can then use the bikes for no charge for the first half-hour. After that, hourly charges rise quickly.

In case you hadn't guessed it, driving around Paris is a job best reserved for the terminally aggressive - if you don't have lots of time to kill, you're better off taking public transport, which is generally well-maintained and supremely convenient.

Say what you will about driving around Paris, but the city's public transportation  is world class. The most charming of Paris' public transport options, the underground Métropolitain (and its sister system, the RER), is a simply massive network. The Métro has 16 lines and well over 300 stops so there should always be a metro station within a few blocks. If you're staying in Paris for a week or more, ask at metro station offices about rechargeable Navigo passes.

Entry Requirements

For up-to-date details on visa requirements, see the French Foreign Affairs Ministry site (www.diplomatie.gouv.fr) and click 'Going to France'.

EU nationals and citizens of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland need only a passport or a national identity card in order to enter France and stay in the country. Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA and many Latin American countries do not need visas to visit France as tourists for up to 90 days.

Other people wishing to come to France as tourists have to apply for a Schengen Visa, named after the agreements that abolished passport controls between 15 European countries. It allows un- limited travel throughout the entire zone for a 90-day period. Application should be made to the consulate of the country you are entering first, or that will be your main destination.

Money

Currency - Euro

Fast Facts

Post Office
The main post office, five blocks north of the eastern end of the Musée du Louvre, is open round the clock, but only for basic services such as sending letters. Other services, including currency exchange, are available only during regular opening hours. Be prepared for long queues.

Mobile en Ville
Association set up in 1998 by students and researchers with the aim of making independent travel within the city easier for people in wheelchairs.

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