Travelling to Paris
Paris has an extensive and well-run public transportation system, which is connected to both international airports (Charles de Gaulle and Orly).
Within the city center, you use the Metro. The price is the same whether you go one stop or across the city. Although you can buy individual tickets, it is less expensive to buy a "carnet" of 10 tickets or to get a one-, three- or five-day visitor's pass, if you plan to get around town. Metro trains are frequent; it is rare to wait more than 2-3 minutes, and stops are generally close together. They also run until about 1am and start again at about 5:30 in the morning.
Free metro and train (RER) maps are available at the airport and other train stations. Most hotels offer free maps (with discount cards for large stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps).
You can download a PDF map of the Metro and RER. See also the hotel map around the conference center on this web site.
RER (suburban train)
A train system, called the RER, connects Paris to the suburbs and the airports. Within Paris, the RER and metro share stations and tickets. So, if you buy an RER ticket at the airport to get into town, you can switch to the metro and continue on your journey at no additional charge. However, RER ticket prices are based on destination if you go outside Paris, which means that you need to keep your RER ticket with you and use it when you leave an RER station. (This is not
necessary when leaving a metro station, although it is a good idea to keep your ticket with you, since "controleurs" will occasionally come and check for it.) You can buy RER tickets at the airport and at any RER station.
The RER stations are further apart and trains are less frequent, but they go faster: treat them as express trains within Paris.
TGV (high-speed train)
The TGV train system connects major cities within France and to London, Brussels, Amsterdam and other Dutch cities. These are very fast trains and are competitive with air travel. (For example, if you travel from the center of London to the center of Paris, the "EuroStar" TGV train, which takes three hours, is usually faster door-to-door than a flight and shuttle connections to the city.) The main TGV station for trains from northern Europe is the Gare du Nord, which is also on the RER blue line and several metro lines.
Charles de Gaulle airport
Most flights from North America and many from Europe arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport (called "Roissy" by the natives). If you arrive during rush hour, the fastest (and cheapest) way to get to Paris is to take the RER train. The train station is located in the middle of terminal 2, near 2C. (The terminal goes from 2A to 2 F.) Terminal 2 is the terminus, so you don't have to choose trains: all go to Paris on the blue line. The next stop is terminal 1.
The express train takes about 30 minutes to get to Gare du Nord (then, it's only two more stops to St. Michel). Otherwise, it will take an additional 5-10 minutes. Note that you should take the next available train, since express trains never overtake slower trains.
Flights from other parts of France, as well as a few European flights, arrive at the smaller Orly airport, which has two terminals. You can take the RER blue line into the center of Paris, via the ORLYVAL express train to the Antony station. Another alternative is the ORLYBUS, which goes directly to the Denfert Rochereau RER/metro station in Paris. (Three stops from the St Michel RER station.) The bus is cheaper and faster, unless you are travelling during rush hour. If you take the bus, you'll need to transfer to the RER blue line and continue 2 or 3 three stops.
- www.ratp.com: English information about the Paris metro and RER system
- www.sncf.fr: French and English information about the French train system including the ability to buy tickets on-line. The TGV is the very fast train with service to major French cities, plus Amsterdam, Brussels and London.
- www.adp.fr: French and English information informaton about current flight status for both Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY) airports.
Tourism in and around Paris
Summarizing tourism information for Paris and its region is just impossible.
Tourism in Paris
You will find plenty of information on the City of Paris web site, among others. Among the Paris landmarks are of course:
Tourism around Paris
Two pretty good web sites for tourism: Paris-Ile-de-France for Paris and its region (called Ile-de-France) and GoFrance for all of France.
The following places require a car, except for the Chateau de Versailles which is accessible by RER: