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Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

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Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

I've had my driver license for 10 years, but my driving experience is only limited to North America. Some plans changed and I will visit Paris for a week this summer, and my wife insists to rent a car since we have two small kids.

I've heard that it is very difficult to drive in Paris. Is that true? I think driving in downtown is unavoidable.

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the big blue marble
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1. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

I think driving downtown is nuts. Especially with small kids!! Imagine seatbelting them in and circling for hours as you look for parking.

OR they could be in the metro, happily staring at all the strangers, walking along, stopping for pastries, running into parks, taking café breaks.

Mr French owns a car, he is used to driving in Paris and I have two kids. On the weekends, when he is not commutong an hour south, we take the metro, we take buses, we take cabs. Thecar is a major hassel. Especially all the oneway streets and finding parking!!!!


Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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2. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

If the need presents itself, and it sometimes does, I drive in Paris.

It is not difficult to drive in Paris but you have no need to do so, particularly downtown. Renting a car would be a mistake, a large one. Parking, when it can be found, is very expensive. There is absolutely no reason why, nor any advantage to you to be driving in Paris.

You should be doing exactly as the Parisians do, use public transportation.

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3. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

The metro, RER buses will get you very fast and safe everywhere unlike in Montreal. Our friends living there never use their car in Paris itself, just suburbs and they have 2 small kids. They always use public transportation.

In fact in Europe with such excellent transport available it is not at all recommended to have a car in a city.

In fact the parking is so problematic and so expensive, you will need to park your car outside the city and take public transport in.

Val-de-Marne, France
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4. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

Not a hazard but a real pain.

It will be a huge source of stress being stuck in traffic and looking endlessly for parking. Plus you won't see much from a car. Less than half Parisians own a car and most only use it to get out of the city. Rent a car only if you want to ruin your stay in Paris.

Paris is a small compact city that is very walkable and there are métro and bus stops everywhere.

New Hampshire
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5. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

Agree that renting and parking a car will not only be expensive but far less convenient than using public transportation. It will be much easier to find your way around on public transportation that attempting to navigate Paris in a vehicle with the traffic and one-way streets.

Your focus, at the moment, should probably be on accommodations. With two children, you may want to consider an apartment or an aparthotel. Hotel rooms tend to be quite compact whereas an apartment would give you a separate bedroom for the kids, kitchen facilities, a proper dining table/chairs. You'd want to find one nicely located for food shopping and public transportation.

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

If you are a competent driver you should be able to drive anywhere. I have driven in Paris... first when I was 18, most recently in my mid 50s. But I learned to drive in Montreal so that may have made things easy for me! ;^)

Please show this thread to your wife. The responders above are unanimous in their opinions...2 of them live there and 3 are frequent visitors. So they know what they're talking about. I will join the chorus... it would be a mistake to rent a car to get around in Paris. Parking will be an expensive nightmare and at busy times of the day while you sit in bumper to bumper traffic the metro could have whisked you to your destination in 1/4 the time. The metro, bus, RER and trams are inexpensive and easy to use... even with children along. We once spent a week in Paris with a 2 year old in a stroller... no problems... they even have special areas on buses for the strollers.

If you need any help or advice with the transit system just ask... there will be no shortage of people offering their advice or experience. Save the car rental for when you head for the countryside.

Edited: 06 June 2012, 17:57
Sacramento, CA
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7. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

I don't think driving in Paris would be a hazard but it would be a major pain in the behind, waste a lot of money (car rental and parking) and be nerve wracking for everyone.

Experience Paris like a local, on the bus and Metro.

Find a place that is close to what you want to see and is close to a Metro stop.

Edmonton, Canada
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8. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

It will be sooooo much cheaper and convenient to buy some lightweight, foldable strollers than to rent a car.

Paris, France
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9. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

I have never owned a car and only drive rental cars about once a month, but I easily adapted to Paris driving and traffic and do not find that it is a problem at all.

However, using a car just to visit Paris would be absolute folly. It would ruin your visit to just about every place just trying to find a place to park, or paying a fortune for underground parking. If you are making trips at least 50 km from Paris, it might be fun to have a car for a day or two.

Kids of all ages absolutely LOVE the metro and would never leave it if they were in charge of the trip.

Tampa, Florida
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10. Re: Driving in Paris - a real hazard???

another "don't do it" vote from someone who avoids driving in Paris whenever possible.

Edited: 06 June 2012, 18:13