More information, go to the Paris Official Website
of the Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Paris of the Parisians
The Parisian may seem rather aloof, as he speeds, deep in thought, from point A to point B, but don’t be deceived by appearances. Just like most French people, he is always ready for a celebration, to have a good time, to lounge on the café terraces, river banks and park lawns in the summer.
All year round, our Parisian likes the good things in life, enjoys meeting friends and colleagues over discussions in cafés, loves to go out in the evening to sample a new restaurant and regularly visits the cinema and the theatre. At the weekend, evenings are reserved for the latest trendy bars and clubs. He can’t do without his small espresso coffee in the mornings before work, standing at the counter of his favourite bar or outside on the terrace, while glancing at the newspaper.
For a successful exchange with the good people of Paris, be it in the shops, restaurants, cafés or simply to ask your way in the street, don’t hesitate to display your most charming smile, while uttering the magic words: “bonjour” (hello), “s’il vous plaît” (please) and “merci” (thank you). A few words in French will work wonders, even if you don’t speak the language. The effort will be appreciated and your accent will delight. You’ll see that the people of Paris can be welcoming!
Don’t be surprised if you happen to see men and women all over the place greeting each other with 4 kisses on the cheek, it’s typical of the city and a mark of friendship. When you haven’t yet reached the degree of familiarity kissing requires, a firm handshake is also a good form of greeting or a way to thank a shopkeeper or someone who has been particularly helpful.
Pedestrians, be extremely careful when crossing the road, watch out for cars, motorbikes and scooters and even rollerbladers, as the average Parisian tends to take liberties where road safety is concerned. Look both ways before crossing the road, and make sure you respect, unlike some drivers, the zebra crossings and traffic lights. Parisians of all ages like the thrill of dashing across at the last second. Don’t attempt to do the same!
Paris, a clean city
Over 20,000 waste containers are at your disposal, in the streets and in the metro. Selective sorting of waste is in place in city housing.
Over 20,000 waste containers are at your disposal, in the streets and in the metro. To ignore them means risking a fine, because it is prohibited to throw rubbish on the public highway.
Make sure you don’t throw your chewing gum on the floor either - it holds no appeal for the soles of your shoes and ruins the paving stones. Public waste containers are green.
When the Vigipirate security measures are activated, they are sealed and replaced by large translucent bags. It may be that certain symbolic districts highly-frequented by tourists, such as the Champs-Elysées, don’t have any waste bins in sight for reasons of security and so need constant upkeep. In this case, please hold on to your rubbish until you come across the nearest dustbin.
All over the city, an army of municipal employees with their modern machines are kept busy every day making Paris a cleaner, more pleasant place for you to visit. Even the Seine quaysides are scrubbed down once a week. Finally, don’t be surprised if you find all the city waste bins sealed or quite simply removed, it’ll be for security reasons.
Selective sorting of waste is in place in city housing. You’ll come across large green containers for the recycling of glass. Dog-owners are required to clean up after their canines or risk a fine (up to €450).
Paris, a clean city… reality or fantasy? It’s up to you. A clean city depends above all on each and every one of us, so let’s do the right thing.
Protecting the environment
In Paris, protecting the environment is everybody’s concern. Local initiatives include sorting household waste, road cleaning, monitoring air quality, developing clean public transport systems and Sustainable Development Week, supported by the Paris City Council. Visitors to the capital are invited to play their part. Wherever you stay, try to avoid wasting water and energy, take public transport to travel around the city and sort your waste whenever possible.
Opening times in Paris
So, you would like to have lunch at 3pm, visit a museum or a monument after 8pm ... In Paris everything is possible as long as you have the right information.
The majority of shops are open all day from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday. Some smaller shops may close over lunchtime between midday and 2pm, or all day on Monday. Sunday and public holidays are the usual closing days, although there are some exceptions ... During the week, department stores all have one late-night opening day, known as a 'nocturne', until 9pm. Supermarkets are open at different times depending on the neighborhood, every day except Sunday, until 8, 9 or 10pm.
During the sales or in December just before the holidays, most stores, both large and small, may also open on Sunday. During the remainder of the year, take a stroll through the Marais or along the Champs-Elysées, where shops are open 365 days a year, sometimes even until midnight. More and more shops are opening on Sunday and public holidays in other districts too.
It’s worth noting that many smaller shops close for their annual holidays from mid-July to end-August
Museums and monuments
Museums open at 9 or 10am and close between 5 and 6pm. Usual closing days are Monday or Tuesday, with a few exceptions mentioned in our information pages. Some are even open 7 days a week, such as some of the major monuments which can even be visited as late as 11pm or midnight.
Many museums have a late-night opening once a week until 9 or 10pm.
Post offices, banks, offices and public services
Most post offices are open from 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8am to midday on Saturday. They are closed on public holidays.
Banks are generally open from 9am to 5pm, from Monday to Friday or from Tuesday to Saturday. Some branches may close over lunchtime, usually between 12.30pm and 2pm. For cash withdrawals, automatic cashpoints (ATMs) operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Banks are closed on public holidays.
As a rule, offices are open between 9am and 6pm.
Public services generally close at 4.30pm or 5pm (or earlier on Friday afternoons). They are closed at lunchtime and on public holidays.
As a general rule, Parisians go for lunch between midday and 1.30pm and dine between 8pm and 10.30pm. At other times, you’ll always be able to find a (cold) snack in most cafes and brasseries. If the restaurant has a sign saying service continu, this indicates that you can have a meal at any time of day.
The majority of bars and cafes open early, around 7 or 8 am and close around 10pm, or later if the establishment has a special dispensation (2am for the bars).
New: Improvements to night-time transport in Paris
The entire Parisian metro service will operate on Saturday evenings until 2.15 am from 23 December 2006, and on Friday evenings until 2.15 am from 29 June 2007.
The Noctilien night bus service is adding 7 new bus routes to its network.
You are sure to find a metro or RER train every day between 6am and 0.30am, wherever you might be along the line. The majority of bus routes operate from 7am to 8.30pm, some lines continuing until 0.30am. Then the Noctilien bus operates from 0.30am to 5.30am. As regards taxis, you’ll find them 24 hours a day.
The Parisian transport network has rush hours: at the time when most residents of Paris and Ile-de-France set off for work,between 8am and 10am, and when they return home again, between 5pm and 8pm. Saturday is also a very busy day, as many Parisians go shopping then. Taxis are difficult to find on Saturday evening, particularly after midnight, because lots of Parisians are out for the evening.
Explanation of daylight saving time
GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
In Paris the time is GMT + 1
E.g.: when it is midday GMT, it is 1pm in Paris.
In Paris the time is GMT + 2
E.g.: when it is midday GMT, it is 2pm in Paris.
Summer (21 june-21 september)
When the summer season is at its height, rest and relaxation and “joie de vivre” bask in the sun, on the café terraces, in the parks and on the “beaches” by the Seine. Picnics abound and gourmets melt for the best ice cream in Paris. On the Champs-Elysées, the 14 July parades and the cyclists triumph. Cinema and music celebrate: free films and concerts thrill the la capital, which takes on its summer scenes.
Average temperatures and rainfall
Rain in mm
Cost of living
When you’re on holiday, most of your budget goes on accommodation. To see what advantages Paris has to offer in this domain, read our special report “Affordable Paris”, and check the “Hotels & accommodation” section for hotel prices per category.
The metro is one of the least expensive in the world. A book of 10 tickets will cost you approximately €14.
Here are some average prices for everyday consumer products:
- 1 full-price museum admission: €7 to €9.
- 1 sandwich: around €5.
- 1 pizza: between €8 and €10
- 1 small coffee: €1 at the bar, €2 sitting down
- 1 full meal (starter, main dish, dessert, not including drinks): between €15 and €20 depending on the area.
- 1 baguette of bread: €0.80
- 1 beer in a café: €2 to €4
- 1 seat at the cinema: €9
Restaurant prices are always displayed outside. Prices shown include taxes and service. There are set menus to choose from, often available at lunch times, different menu choices or à la carte. For an idea of prices, use the search engine for more details.
In bars and cafés, prices of drinks are required to be displayed inside. It’s handy to know that the prices vary depending on whether you stand at the bar (where they are the lowest), or at a table inside or on the terrace. After a certain time in the evening, a supplement may be added to the price of drinks.
Tipping – The bill please!
In France, all prices shown include tax and service (the latter is around 15% of the total price). However, if the service has been particularly good, you may wish to leave a tip in order to show your appreciation. As a general rule, the amount is 5 to 10% of the total bill.
Euro, the European currency
On 1 January 2002, along with 11 other Member States of the European Union, France adopted the euro currency. These notes and coins can therefore be used in any country belonging to the euro zone: France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. Since 1 January 2007, Slovenia has been the 13th member state to introduce the euro. €1 is divided into 100 centimes or cents.
Notes: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents; €1 and €2.
Value of the euro against the dollar:
In 2007, the euro is worth around $1.40.
Banks and currency exchange
There is a multitude of banks in Paris, both French and foreign. They are generally open from 9am to 5pm, or 6pm, from Monday to Friday, sometimes from Tuesday to Saturday. Certain branches may close at lunchtime, between 12.30pm and 2pm.
Even though you may find some banks who will accept your currency in exchange for euros, you are more likely to come across exchange bureaux, which specialize in this type of transaction. Make sure you have some ID with you.
Your credit card will enable you to withdraw cash in euros 24 hours a day at the hundreds of automatic cashpoints in the city. They often give you the choice of instructions in French, English or other languages. The majority of international cards are accepted by cash dispensers at the principal French and foreign banks. However, not all banks provide a currency exchange service.
Banks and exchange bureaux, such as the CCF, fix their rates according to the market which fluctuates from day to day. All rates should be displayed outside the agency. The exchange rate is correct if the difference between buying and selling rates is approximately 5%.
Duty free shopping and tourist tax
Duty free shopping
You come from a country outside the European Union, you’re over 15 years of age and you have spent a minimum of €175 in the same store within the last 3 months? Then enjoy duty free!
For a VAT refund, ask for a Tax free Shopping France invoice when you shop in any major store or “Tax free for tourists” boutique. The amount to be refunded is shown under the heading “montant de la détaxe”. You should have your invoices stamped at airport customs on leaving the EU and return the validated pink copies within three months using the stamped addressed envelope given to you at the time you made your purchases.
In order to receive your tax refund, it’s important to know that Paris train stations, unlike airports, do not have a customs office.
On 1 January 1994, the Paris City Council introduced a tourist tax (“taxe de séjour”) which is applicable to all forms of paid accommodation: hotels and apartments, furnished accommodation, camp sites, etc.
Each hospital has its own specialist consultants. A doctor will direct you to the one that corresponds best to your case. On request, certain hospitals can provide relatives with accommodation or details of specialized organizations, for example when a child or close family member is hospitalized.
Afternoons after 5.30pm, nights, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, you need to contact one of the following hospitals: La Pitié, Hôtel-Dieu, Lariboisière, Necker, Bichat.
For emergency appointments in English
The clinic of the American Hospital of Paris provides a medical and surgical emergency service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients are looked after by a bilingual team (French-English). These practitioners can call on specialists, accredited by the hospital, who are on call in more than twenty medical and surgical fields. There is always a cardiologist and intensive care doctor on duty at the American Hospital.
Chemists in Paris
They are usually open straight through from 8am to 8pm. They take it in turns to close on Sundays and also sometimes on Mondays. When a chemist is closed, the addresses of the nearest duty chemists are displayed on the door.
Emergencies and health information
Should you be a witness or the victim of an accident, you may require medical treatment that cannot wait until the following day. These are the emergency services to contact:
Drug Info Service
0 800 23 13 13
AIDS/HIV Info Service
0 800 840 800
Poison treatment diseases
01 40 05 48 48
01 40 78 26 00
SOS médecins (doctors)
01 47 07 77 77
SOS dentaire (dentists)
01 43 37 51 00
Communication in France
Making phone calls in France
All French numbers have 10 digits and begin with 0.
The prefix for Paris and Ile-de-France numbers is 01.
Mobile numbers start with 06.
Telephone calls are generally cheaper between 9pm and 9am.
Freephone and other specially-priced numbers begin with 08.
0 800 and 0 804, 0 805, 30 00, 31 44, 36 55 all denote a free service (N° Vert®).
Other special telephone numbers have specific tariffs from land lines. _ The price per minute must be indicated (€0.12/min; €0.15 /min or €0.30/min including taxes (TTC)).
There are also certain 4-digit numbers for emergencies or the speaking clock (3699) but, in general, these are trade numbers with surcharges.
How to call from abroad
Dial the international code 00 followed by 33 for France, then the number without the first 0.
Example for a Paris number: 00 33 1 40 00 00 00.
How to call from France to another country
Dial the international code 00, the code of the country, then the number without the first 0.
With the France Télécom Pays Direct service, you can obtain an operator in your own country free of charge. If you wish, he can establish reverse-charge calls for you (where the person called pays for the communication).
For this service, dial 0 800 99 00 \ country code.
49 for Germany
44 for UK
39 for Italy
34 for Spain
11 (AT&T) or 19 (MCII) for US
16 for Canada (0 800 99 30 16 AT&T Canada)
Connection with the French network
Some mobiles from other countries don’t automatically connect with the French networks. All you need to do is choose the option “network selection” on your mobile to manually make the connection.
In order to use your mobile in France, it should be compatible with GSM 900 or GSM 1800 norms. If this is not the case, or if it is not working, you have the possibility of hiring a mobile phone in one of the many specialist boutiques.
Don’t forget that you’ll probably need a plug adapter in order to be able to charge up your mobile phone.
A postcard or a letter to send? You can post them in one of the yellow letter boxes found on most street corners. Stamps can be bought in post offices or tobacconists. A letter weighing up to 20g costs €0.58 for France and EU countries, €1 for the US, Asia and Australia.
If you don’t have a set postal address you can always receive your mail by “poste restante”, at the Louvre central post office. The post office is recognizable by its yellow and blue chevron.
Most post offices are open from 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to midday on Saturday. Closed on public holidays.
Good to know: You don’t have to queue at the counters; automatic machines are available in post offices to weigh and frank your mail.
Decree n°2006-1386 dated 15 November 2006 has determined the implementation conditions of smoking prohibition in collective venues.
Alcoholic drinks are on sale in any grocer’s, wine shops or supermarkets. While we must not forget that alcohol over-indulgence is simply bad for our health, being drunk and disorderly on the public highway is against the law.
Customes & Schengen Visa
Drive in France and in Paris
You can drive if:
- You have a licence delivered by a Member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area (under certain conditions)
- You have a licence except European Union (under certain conditions)