For the practical traveler

Whether studying, vacationing, or visiting for work, acquaint yourself with Paris practicalities.


Guide for Foreign Residents

From health and social services to navigating the Métro, the Paris Mayor’s Office provides a guide for foreign residents to facilitate your stay.

Entry Requirements

U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport to enter France and a visa to stay longer than 90 days. For U.S. passport information, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website. Other passport holders should check with the French Consulate in their country of residence for visa requirements. More visa information can be found at the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs website.

Getting Around Paris

“Paris is so compact and there is so much to do everywhere; everything is easily accessible via the Métro. The Métro was so easy to use and trains came every two minutes.” Christiana Chukwu, ’09

From the Airport: Most flights from North America will land at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport. From there, you can get to Paris by suburban train (RER), bus, shuttle or taxi. For more information, including approximate cost and transit times, visit Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport Ground Transportation.

Within Paris: While taxis can be a convenient option, public transportation in Paris is efficient, expansive and inexpensive.

The Métro, RER and buses inside the city limits use a common ticket, which can be purchased individually or incarnets of ten (for a discounted rate). Regular commuters can also use their “Navigo” passes to travel on the Voguéo, a fleet of bright blue and green commuter catamarans on the Seine river. For tourists, the cost is 3 euros.

  • The Métro has 16 lines, identifiable by color and number. Trains run at frequent intervals Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 5:30 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. and Friday to Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 2:15 a.m.
  • The RER interurban trains travel within Paris and to the surrounding suburbs.
  • Buses allow you to travel Paris above ground at a more relaxed pace.

Time

Paris is 7 hours ahead (on Central European Time) of Chicago, Illinois (on Central Standard Time). For the current local time, visit The World Clock.

Communication

Cell Phones: In France (and all of Europe), you’ll need a cell phone that is GSM SIM-unlocked and that works on 900-1800 GSM frequencies. These will work with any prepaid SIM card in Europe, which usually accept free incoming calls.

Phone Calls: French phone numbers are composed of ten digits. Parisian landline numbers start with 01 and cell phones with 06. For example, the number of the Center in Paris is 01-53-94-78-80.

  • Calling France from the U.S.: Dial 011 (international dialing code), then 33 (the country code for France) and the French phone number without the first “0.”
    Example: 011-33-1-53-94-78-80
  • Calling France within France: Dial the 10-digit telephone number.
    Example: 01-53-94-78-80
  • Calling the U.S. or Canada from France: Dial 001 followed by the area code and seven-digit phone number. 
    Example: 001-773-702-1234

Paris Wi-Fi Spots: There are now over 260 public locations that provide 24-7 high-speed wireless Internet access. For terminal locations by arrondissement, visit Localisation des bornes Wi-Fi.

Paris by the Seasons

Autumn in Paris is mild though damp, with temperatures ranging from an average of 60°F in September to mid-40-degree weather in November.

Winter in Paris is cold, though much milder than Chicago! The average temperature in January hovers around 40°F. Rain is common with occasional snows. Given the abundant indoor attractions, a winter visit can be highly satisfying and less congested than the autumn or spring.

Spring in Paris (April, May and June) is peak tourist season and brings pleasantly warm temperatures.

Summer in Paris in July and especially August can be hot (no air conditioning on the Métro!), though this can also be an inexpensive time to visit. Many Parisians flee the city in August, meaning restaurants and shops may be closed.

Electrical Devices

France operates on 220 volts, requiring a transformer for 110-volt American shavers, hair dryers and so on. Most newer laptop computers, cell phone chargers and iPods have built-in transformers. French plugs have two round prongs, so you may also need a Europlug adapter.

Business Etiquette

Paris is a cosmopolitan metropolis with its own social codes. The Economist’s guide to business etiquette in France provides helpful advice for professional encounters in Paris.

University of Chicago’s Student Weekly Expenditures

Examples of costs include:

  • Ticket Métro/bus RATP/Noctilien (night bus) €1,70 per journey
  • 10 tickets Métro/RER/bus €13,70
  • Weekly pass Navigo €20,40
  • Monthly pass Navigo €67,10
  • University restaurants: starting at €3,00 per meal
  • Laundry: €2,00 to wash and €3,00 to dry
  • Newspaper: €1,20
  • Magazines: €3,00
  • Cinema tickets between €5,50 and €11

Finding a Hotel in Paris

With over 2500 hotels in the City of Light, not all of them as wonderful as the city itself, choosing the right place to stay can be a challenge. Don’t even try the Pages Jaunes, the French Yellow Pages, as the number of hits will overwhelm. A more sophisticated web-based tool like Expedia will let you compare rates and amenities for various hotels on specific dates. But remember that what you see on an Expedia hotel-description page isn’t always what you get. Do you really want to make a non-refundable payment in full before you find out for yourself how the carpet actually smells or how thin those walls might be?

A guidebook such as Lonely Planet can be a good resource, and online travel materials can be helpful as well, although some are better and more reliable than others. But if what you want is a dozen or so Chicago-friendly recommendations and short descriptions for a range of hotels across Paris, the list below is a shortcut for you.