Transcript for Episode 254: Ultimate Guide to Getting Around France

Categories: France How To, France on a Budget

Discussed in this Episode

  • Hop Air
  • EasyJet
  • Ryanair
  • Air France
  • Vueling
  • Norwegian
  • French Bee
  • Level Airline
  • Air Transat
  • Air Canada
  • BlaBlaBus (formerly known as Ouibus)
  • FlixBus


Annie Sargent 0:00
This is join us in France Episode 254 Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent. And join us in France is a podcast where you’ll hear pragmatic advice for your next trip to France. Hopefully you’ll get inspired to go beyond Paris and enjoy the rest of France to Today let’s talk about a variety of cost effective ways to travel around France within France with my guests. David Blanc. Last week I published an episode about booking an open jar ticket to France using miles and today we talked about budget travel within France. It turns out that there are a lot of options to get around France that you may have never heard of, but are totally worth looking into. David Blanc is a tour guide in Paris. You can find him on the website I’ve met him in person last time I was in Paris. He’s a great guy. Show Notes for this episode or on join us in France. com/254 the number to fight for

Annie Sargent 1:34
David. David, I’m going to say the French Way such a goodness was you’re welcome to join us in France is lovely to have you.

David Blanc 1:45
Thank you.

Annie Sargent 1:46
So David, you are a tour guide in Paris and you are also I met you through a side gig that you do. It’s called World Radio Paris. And it’s well it’s radio station abroad. is in Paris and also in the nice area, right?

David Blanc 2:03
Correct. Yes. Right and five years now,

Annie Sargent 2:05
right and you’ve picked up join us in France, as well as many other programs

David Blanc 2:11
would be the hub for English speaking, content quality talk shows in English in France. Right?

Annie Sargent 2:19
Right. And today so because you are French and your English is excellent, by the way, congratulations. I wanted to talk with you about the things that French people do to have, you know, to find cost effective travel options within France, cost effective. And, of course, we’re going to talk about convenience and all the reasons why we choose this over that and all the possibilities because I think most foreign visitors, they don’t really have all the options at their fingertips. So it might be good to list them all

David Blanc 2:57
true when you come to This country, you usually fly a major airline, then you take the taxi to go to city. And then you book your TGV train to go maybe to the self, but you don’t really know that there are other options out there. That’s we know about and I’d like to share that,

Annie Sargent 3:19
right? And see one thing that I do all the time, because I live in Toulouse, and I’ve lived in the US for a long time. So anytime we would come visit friends, when I lived in the US, we would always find our flights all the way to Toulouse. But it turned out that the Paris to Toulouse flight, you know, portion of the of the trip was quite expensive, a lot of the time. And I think if we had just booked our ticket, you know, from the US to Paris, and then found another way it would have been, we could have made it a lot cheaper,

David Blanc 3:55
of course, especially when when you do fly Connecting in Paris to another city, then you’re kind of tied to a major airline or Ryan’s as opposed to direct flights into Paris only which can be done by local car lights.

Annie Sargent 4:13
Right? Well, that’s true because the because the booking engines won’t even show you the low cost airlines if you’re asking to move on to a different city.

David Blanc 4:26
Okay, they only sell one called point to point. They don’t sell connections.

Annie Sargent 4:31
Hmm. Okay, good to know. Okay, so let’s start with listing all the different ways you can get around in France. The most obvious way is the airplane.

David Blanc 4:41
Okay, so. So first of all, let’s talk about traveling within France. So short haul and also if you want to visit Europe, out of France, what are you different options so there are a number of low cost airlines are flying out of Paris, and a few original airports around the country as well. But of course the major carriers Air France and flies a number of routes and regional routes with its partner subsidiary called Hop. And the prices can be really high. Yeah, Air France, unless you book over 40 days in advance and include a Saturday night within your round trip tickets.

Annie Sargent 5:28
Oh, I didn’t know about the Saturday night.

David Blanc 5:29
Yep. It makes things a lot cheaper because you’re not considered a business person. I see. So note that you can easily use your Delta Airlines miles for flights within France, because it’s the same Sky Team Alliance. So for example, if you want to book Paris to Marceilles with your miles, it’ll cost you as little as 6000 miles which is not much and 23 euros in airport taxes. So it’s really worth looking into that as Well if you want to find a flight within France also, there’s one competitor to Air France on one route online is easy jet and they fly from Paris to nice. Now most of the other routes within France and there are a lot of them like 50 different routes are operated by your friends. So there’s no competition and the prices are really high.

Annie Sargent 6:24
Now there is all their EasyJet flights between Toulouse and Paris I’ve taken them

David Blanc 6:30
yet to burn to the main airport, which is CDG I believe is no more us by EasyJet. So it’s not as convenient as farther away from Paris. Yes, right. And to be honest, the prices of EasyJet on that particular route are very similar to Air France. Very high. Yeah. So EasyJet is considered a medium cost airline is not so much a low cost anymore, right. Just a word. You can get It’s good deals from Paris to other European cities, particularly if you fly with no suitcase checked luggage on Ryanair, EasyJet, Transvia and Vueling, these are the four major locals airlines operating out of Paris and France in general. Right. So sure it’s amazing to get a ticket to Barcelona for 20 euros but be careful.

Annie Sargent 7:28
I’ve done that on Vueling.

David Blanc 7:30
Yeah. Well willing flies out of Orly airport, so that’s quite okay. Yeah. However, you should pay attention to the departure airports for other airlines like Ryanair. Well, yeah, often offer the cheapest ticket but they charge also for overhead luggage, which is kind of ridiculous. Yeah. And they use a distance airports which is about 50 miles north of Paris called movie and it is served from Paris by verse by bus service. And that costs 16 euros one way so when you factor in this plus the extra time it takes to get there like an hour and a half, then it might not be worth the price difference.

Annie Sargent 8:13
Yeah. Ryanair, I’ve taken Ryanair because our daughter was doing studied for a little bit in Glasgow and so to visit her there was a there was a direct flight between Carcassonne and Glasgow so we we booked that we drove to Carcassonne on and left our car and whatever because it’s it’s pretty close from to lose, but it was such a bad experience. not

David Blanc 8:39
usually is

Annie Sargent 8:40
no it was Yeah,

David Blanc 8:42
they they try to make money off of everything except the tickets. Yeah. So they charge for everything and they they make you charge for like printing your tickets at the airports a huge amount of money 50 euros or something so it’s ridiculous. But you’re right Ryanair, as this Very unique policy that basically they serve small regional regional airports, linking them to Northern European capital, particularly in England. Yeah. And for almost nothing because the regional councils in France pay them like a major subsidy to operate the rules. Okay. So that’s why

Annie Sargent 9:21
that’s why they do it. Yeah. Yeah, I was. I was worried. I was like, surprised. I mean, I had never flown in or out of Carcassonne before. So it’s like a very small airport. And very, very small. Like, it looks like a private jet airport is so small.

David Blanc 9:36
Yes. And so they, they usually stay alive. Those airports stay open, thanks to Ryanair. Yeah. So it’s employments and activity and but it’s really subsidized heavily.

Annie Sargent 9:48
Yeah, EasyJet have had much better experiences with EasyJet because you can, if you check a bag, you’re going to be upgrading anyway. So you’re going to get Advance boarding and all of that. It’s It’s It’s not that by comparison to Ryanair, EasyJet is very good.

David Blanc 10:08
Yeah. And the the key elements you have to remember for low cost airlines. is the fact that you have to book a long time in advance. Yeah, they tend to be very expensive if you booked in the last few days before the flight, yes. So if you plan your trip, like six months up to a year in advance, then you will be able to get very, very good deals. Yes. Those airlines.

Annie Sargent 10:34
Yes. And willing, I have I have also flown willing it was fine. But I have I hear terrible stories about delays and flights being late, you know, chronically on Vueling. So but I only took them once. Yes,

David Blanc 10:49
yes, she does going to Spain because they’re overworked. Their staff there. Yeah. We’re Frankfurt to Barcelona. So yeah, it was not surprising. Yeah. All right. So maybe we could focus now on the long haul flights. So there are several local airlines now flying into Paris from overseas and are focused on the US. Norwegian is the most famous. It serves about a dozen US cities, Director Paris. And you can fly across across the Atlantic for sometimes under 300 US dollar round trip. So it’s very, very low. No, but there’s no checked luggage in that price and nor meal either. So you should add, you should need so another great airline operating a direct service recently. They started recently from San Francisco to Paris Orly on a brand new aircraft the A350. So it’s very comfortable. It’s called French Bee. Yes, and they’re very aggressive as well in terms of fares. So

Annie Sargent 12:00
this is like the letter B?

David Blanc 12:02
now like a like the Bumbee,

David Blanc 12:04
Bumblebee. Okay. Okay.

David Blanc 12:06
And so they had to change the name from French blue to French Bee because of a problem with the naming in the US to operate out of San Francisco. The name blue was already taken by another airline. Yeah, anyway, so now it’s French being and so they operate a route from Paris to Tahiti via San Francisco. And the flight from San Francisco to Paris is very cheap. So that’s also interesting.

Annie Sargent 12:35
So then you get it Chico’s very often the deals only work if you originate in the US. Have you found these fares to work in the reverse as well.

David Blanc 12:45
It’s both ways. So French bee and Norwigian and operate as pure, low cost airlines just like easy jet you can buy one way and he won’t cost you more than half of around. trip.

Annie Sargent 13:01
And it doesn’t matter if you start your trip in Paris or if you started in wherever Boston, no, it doesn’t matter.

David Blanc 13:08
Same same fair, there’s a slight fair difference linked to airport taxes. Airport tax in France is higher than in the US. So typically the price of a ticket from Paris to say Boston will be higher than the reverse. Interesting, but that’s only because of airport tax difference. Very interesting. I didn’t know that. Well, maybe you save me a bunch button for money. Next. So there’s another airline that flies out of Orly serving New York and Montreal, Canada. Very low prices. 99 euros one way. It’s called level level is a new subsidiary of British Airways and Iberia. Which are the same basically airline. And they also say brand new planes, same concept as Norwegian. So I’ve thought Level a couple of times they also go to the French Caribbean islands and perfect service actually no service at all. But they bring you the food that you order on the screen. So it looks like it’s really good service because you get your food when you want it and you get what you want it’s a very new approach to flying your meal is not included you pay for its for small fee like a sandwich is about six euros but you order from the screen, and they just the staff will just bring it to you to your seats. And it’s it’s it’s really wrong to associate low cost airlines to bad service or bad seats or bad screen or movie entertainment. Yeah, not necessarily. It’s not the case at all Norwegian as Wi Fi on board, for example, when Air France has its own very few aircrafts and the screen quality and the movie offers offered on on the flight is much better on Norwegian or French bee or level than it is on Air France. So yeah, it’s it’s a it’s a difficult competition for the mainstream airlines. However, I just want to add a word about durability of these local sailings long haul low cost is still a new thing out there and they don’t know if it’s financially viable in the long run. So and we saw a number of low cost airlines failing like Wow air or primera air last year. Yeah, and very recently XL airways. So

Unknown Speaker 15:41
buyer beware,

David Blanc 15:43
beware just do a background check on those airlines before you choose them. I would be a little cautious with Norwegian because they’ve always been on the verge of bankruptcy and they keep on being refinanced by the Norwegian government’s which is an issue with the Europeon union, so they’re facing sort of a bleak future when we don’t know at this stage level, the level in French be a much better because they are part of large, very profitable airlines. Right. Holding Company.

Annie Sargent 16:15
There’s also some flights between Montreal in Toulouse. It used to be just in the summer. But let me look them up.

David Blanc 16:26

David Blanc 16:28
direct flights from Canada to other cities are usually operated by Air Canada or Air Transit.

Annie Sargent 16:36
I was Air Transat that for a long time. And I think now it’s Air Canada.

David Blanc 16:40
So it depends. certain cities like Marseille are served by both. So it’s also a good option if you want to flow directly to Provence for example, yeah. to transit via Montreal. Yeah, sometimes it’s much more affordable. Yeah. Say it’s a good option as well, but they are mainstream companies. So it’s not locust. It’s still in the six, seven hundreds

Annie Sargent 17:05
don’t Yeah, yeah, I’m seeing some around like 800 Yeah,

David Blanc 17:09
yeah. Okay. So maybe now we could focus on other forms of transportation within the country. Yeah. First of all, I’d like to mention something maybe in the US you’re you’re familiar with the the coaches, the bus companies. So it’s very usual to travel by bus between cities in the US on Greyhound or Peter Pan. So we have the same system here. It’s become more popular in the last two, three years. But you know, the became enforced by the current president actually, when he was a minister. So there are several bus companies such as blablabus or Flixbus and they operate low cost lines between cities and also two different European destinations. Now, it word about the bus station in Paris, which is a little hard to find Be careful. It’s along the same river, but he’s kind of hidden. So it’s called a Bercy bus station, but he’s not at the Bercy metro station. So it’s very confusing. So you have to look it up on on google map to find it.

David Blanc 18:23
Give yourself a good amount of time to find it.

Annie Sargent 18:26
So is it like a walk between the metro station and

David Blanc 18:30
you have to get off at the Bercy Metro right and then walk about a good 10 minutes? Okay. So if you have a suitcase it’s not easy. Yeah. But and I’ll take an example which is the city of Reims what American say it rains. Yes. Champagne region,

Annie Sargent 18:51
please. Let’s say it Reims, Okay.

David Blanc 18:54
I hear all the time. But so, to reach Reims you have a couple of options. You can take a regular train, but it costs a lot of money. Or you can take a bus. So you can find tickets to go there from Paris for let’s say a day trip for 99 cents one way, if you book again a long time in advance.

Annie Sargent 19:15
What company does that

David Blanc 19:17
flixbus. So it’s a really good deal. It takes two hours as opposed to 45 minutes with the fast train.

Annie Sargent 19:25
Okay, but the good thing with this route is that what you have to know about Flixbus is that they have they have rules for when the drivers have to rest. And so they can only drive like I think it’s three or four hours and then they have to stop for 45 minutes. So like between Barcelona and to lose if I drive, it’s five hours. If I’m on a Flixbus it’s six hours, seven hours, because there’s two stops to mandatory stops. And there’s nothing you can do about that. You know, on the

David Blanc 19:56
overnight routes. Usually they have two drivers. Right, right. But just be careful also, with the drop of points. In the case of Reims once again, the bus station is quite far from the center of town. So if you want it to reach the cathedral, the famous Cathedral in your house, you’ll have to write a tramway for about 20 minutes. Okay? So it’s not as convenient as a train, right? Whereas, if you have a lot of time and a little money, it’s a good option. Right,

Annie Sargent 20:26
right. So in Toulouse, for example, all of these buses, they depart from right next to the train station. So it’s really easy to get to, you know, it’s the hub is perfect. And the TG the new TGV train station is also going to be within you know, 500 meters. So it’s going to be very, very convenient in Toulouse, but not every city can do that.

David Blanc 20:49
Sure. And sometimes the bus is the only way to reach certain areas. So for example, if you want to go to Etretat, which is in Normandy, Flixbus does it, And there’s no train going there. So it’s it’s a good option. Right? as well.

Annie Sargent 21:05
I will, I will have to say good things about flixbus, because I’ve used it myself, I have a lot of friends and family who’ve used it. I’ve never had a bad experience. So yes, sometimes it takes forever if you want to go a long distance I would avoid, because it’s very long. But if you have to just go short distance, it’s excellent.

David Blanc 21:28
Absolutely. So basically four day trips around Paris have a couple of days if you don’t want to rent a car to go somewhere outside Paris. on a budget. That’s a good, that’s a good idea. Yeah. And so basically, there’s an app that compares all of those bus lines and train lines. It’s called Bus Radar. I just wanted to mention it because it’s very useful Bus Radar, yes, Bus Radar, and you can book directly from the app to any of those companies. So it’s very, very nice. Very good. Last thing I wanted to mention some time TGV trains run special discounted round trip on Saturdays. So let’s say you’re in Paris and there is a Saturday during your trip, and you want to use that to go, let’s say to, again, Reims or Lyon, just going back in the same day. So I don’t know why but they do that special discounted, heavily discounted tickets, round trips out of Paris on Saturdays on regular TGV trains.

Annie Sargent 22:28
And honestly, these days you don’t really want to be on in Paris on Saturdays. So if you can avoid it, because it’s a mess. I mean, you never know. It might be nothing but there might be demonstrations, Gilet Jaunes, whatever, they close, all sorts of things. So yeah, I could get our parents on Saturday. I would.

David Blanc 22:45
Yes, yes. It’s been difficult. Yeah. To be a tour guide in Paris on Saturday. Yeah.

David Blanc 22:53
I’m now moving on to trains.

David Blanc 22:57
So, again, trains In France, you have to understand it’s heavily used, but it’s a monopoly of the state for another couple of years. So the prices are quite high. So the train companies, SNCF, and so they’ve, they’ve created a low cost company called Ouigo. So basically, that’s the only two options you have regular SNCF trains, which have Wi Fi and they are fancier I guess there’s

Annie Sargent 23:31
food on board. There’s it’s the newer trains.

David Blanc 23:36
And you can choose the low cost option, which is Ouigo yeah. So the they have a different app for Ouigo. They have a different booking system. Yeah, they don’t accept American Express cards. It’s really a different company. Yeah. And they did that to prepare for the arrival of competitors. In a couple of years. Yeah. When the European Union will force France to open up its train tracks to competitive competition. Right? So, so let’s focus on ouigo. Now it’s going almost anywhere in the country. They’ve just announced that for this winter and spring season, they will also offer trains between Paris and Lyon for as little as 10 euros. So it’s basically if you book when, right when they start the sales of those tickets, which is twice a year, so once in early October, once in a I believe June, then you get 10 euro tickets to anywhere Yeah, in the country. So it’s really nice. It’s

Annie Sargent 24:40
really nice. And ouigo is I mean, it’s a TGV train. So as far as the time you’re going to spend on the train, it’s exactly the same. Yes, the biggest difference I’ve done both. The biggest difference is that ouigo, the seats are not as comfortable, you know, you don’t have necessarily a Plug, which you do on a on the inOui. That’s another name for SNCF for the regular TV. And you don’t have Wi Fi and you don’t have any food or drink on board. So you have to

David Blanc 25:14
do you have to bring with you, you have to bring what you need. And remember you need also to pay extra for large circus suitcases. Yes,

Annie Sargent 25:21
there’s an extra charge for big suitcases. Yep. So

David Blanc 25:25
it’s five euro issue he booked with the tickets on the app and it’s 20 euros, you should do it at the station. Plus you have to print your tickets beforehand. Otherwise, they charge as well. But the good thing about

Annie Sargent 25:37
you didn’t you you can use the app. I’ve showed up with just the my ticket on the app and it

David Blanc 25:41
works. Yes, that’s true. They Yeah, they do that the good thing about ouigo is the children. Children pay eight euros, whatever the distance and whenever you book. Wow. So that’s really cool.

Annie Sargent 25:54
So you’re going to be on our train full of kids.

David Blanc 25:57
Pretty much just be aware. Anyway. It’s a kindergarten

Annie Sargent 26:02
They’re all going on vacation, but only go they really limit the number of pieces of luggage. So you have one carry on size and one handbag. So like if you if you bring your lunch, it has to fit in your handbag. Otherwise that’s another carry on. Okay. So you go to the train station, you stop at Paul, you buy a sandwich and a drink for the train. And they and they were like, Oh, that’s another carry on. I know. It’s not just my lunch, but I had to shove it in my bag.

David Blanc 26:33
Yeah, they do. Check. Yeah, yeah. But it’s just like airlines. Yeah. And and so it’s just like airlines for the price. So the earlier you buy, the cheaper it will be

Annie Sargent 26:45
right but don’t try to buy two years in advance. Those tickets won’t show you know, it’s six months more or less. They open banks of tickets. Because I you know, because I’ve run this fairly large Facebook group. I know people always complain they try to book the The Eiffel Tower a year in advance. You can’t wait. The tickets aren’t open yet.

David Blanc 27:04
Yeah, so the tickets are typically 10 euros issue leave Paris to anywhere in France. So it’s only the main cities served like stress for Balto must say if you live into those now, if you live from messy that’s a little south of Paris served by the RB train or if you live from this event, and it’s 19 euros one way surely from a station within the city of Paris. So it’s a little bit more expensive,

Annie Sargent 27:33
right? I’ve been 19 Yes, I’ve been 19 but I went to move on us.

David Blanc 27:39
Exactly. So that’s that’s normal because the tax there is higher.

Annie Sargent 27:44
Now one thing I want to say absolutely is that you usually if you take the TGV that So, the regular ggV is called in when INOUI in week which in French means unbelievable, right? Or we go, they do not depart from the same platforms, they have a completely separate checking system. It is like completely different. In Montparnasse this last time, it’s sometimes you have to arrive a bit early because most of the time the the ouigo depart from Hall 2 and TGV departs from Hall 1 but you cannot see that either on your ticket or on on the overhead displays.

David Blanc 28:35
And I think they make it a bit difficult but they do say when you vote you have to get this 30 minutes beforehand, right might be denied boarding.

Annie Sargent 28:43
Right, right. Ouigo you have to get there 30 minutes early TGV it’s five minutes, I think, even maybe two minutes. It’s really, you know, the doors open. Yeah. TGV you can run into the train pretty much but not ouigo.

David Blanc 28:58
The only difference and that’s Why they can offer such low prices is that there’s no controller on board with ouigo most of the time. And so it costs them a lot less to operate. Right. There’s basically only a driver a conductor and someone cleaning the train from time to time the desk. Yes, that’s it. Yeah. It’s a requires less personnel on board. Right. But also I wanted to mention one last thing about the trains. You can if you had to take a regular TGV at the last minute sometimes people resell their tickets that paper old fashioned tickets can be swapped given to another clients and there’s a website for that it’s called trocdetrain but it’s all in French so I’m afraid is difficult if you don’t speak French, but be aware that there is an option of sometimes swapping are exchanging a tickets well at a much lower price

Annie Sargent 29:53
and and for regular TGV, you can go to the train station and change the date completely and you will pay If you train was supposed to be within five days, you will pay 10 bucks for the cancellations for the change fee. And if it’s after five days, it’s like five euros cancellation fee. I did this couple weeks ago.

David Blanc 30:16
Yes, but you have to go to the train station. Correct. And also because you bought a regular regular price ticket? Yes. So, the TGV are priced in two different ways there, there’s discounted tickets that cannot be swapped or exchanged, right and called PREMS. And then those those unfortunately, you cannot change.

Annie Sargent 30:37
Right, right. No, I I think it’d be 65 between Toulouse, and

David Blanc 30:41
Paris, which is a standard price. And these can be exchanged for 10 euros, correct. Yeah. All right. That’s for the trains and, and finally, maybe a focus on cars. I have a lot of clients who asked me about renting a car. To go to Normandy or to do a tour in the Champagne region, or see the castles in the Loire Valley, so it’s it’s never very easy to rent a car in France. There are different options to do it low cost, so I’ll go over them. First of all, there’s a very popular website, which is also a sort of a French tech success spreading to Europe is called blablacar. So blablacar is based basically people who have planned a journey with a private car. But there there’s only one or two persons during the trip. So basically, there are a couple of seats empty in their in their car, and they basically offer them for a small price to other people, right. So if you go to this app blablacar you can travel with complete strangers, but for a very low price on a private car, right. And so you can read the reviews of the driver, if the person drives well, etc. And you can get good prices. Again, my example a Reims to Paris or vice versa, could be found for about eight to 10 euros. Yeah. As opposed to 45 euros by train,

Annie Sargent 32:13
right? Yes. The difficulty with blablacar is that they usually don’t want to come pick you up wherever you are. So you’re gonna have to go to a meeting point somewhere. And, and also, I mean, it’s going to be French people. So if you want to practice your French, it’s excellent. I encourage you to do that. But if you don’t speak French, it might be a little bit awkward to be sitting there with a person who you can’t talk to, for

David Blanc 32:40
sure. We should go from Paris to nice, which is a 12 hour drive. Yeah, it’s a long way. It’s a long way to be stuck with someone you can’t speak with.

Annie Sargent 32:48
But if you want to practice your French, it’s excellent.

David Blanc 32:51

David Blanc 32:54
You can also rent a private car from an individual for a day or two Really we? Yes, absolutely, particularly here in Paris is very profitable, because as you may know, parisians don’t own cars, right? So whenever they want to leave the city, they do that. And it’s usually cheaper than renting from a traditional rental company. So the most popular service is called Drivy, but there are many others.

Annie Sargent 33:20

David Blanc 33:22
correct. You just download the app, create an accounts, you have to upload a picture of your driver’s license, and then they validate that and then you can use it. So you choose a car nearby at the price that you like. And then you you have a meeting, point and date and time and you meet the owner of the car, you sign a small contract, which is a standard one which comes with full insurance. And you can run away with the current program. Hopefully you come back, yes. So that’s a good option as well. But then again, some level of French will probably be required to do that, but that’s what locals do. Yeah, and a lot of parisians don’t really need a car thanks to go services right. Now if you want to rent from a regular rental car company, I strongly recommend to do it from a TV station. like Gare du Nord, you know, or Montparnasse or Saint Lazare, or CDG. From experience Gare du Nord know the North train station or CDG have the lowest prices due to heavy competition.

David Blanc 34:30

Annie Sargent 34:31
Montparnasse was awfully expensive. I again, I checked this a few weeks ago, I wanted to just get the car for the day, and they wanted like 250 euros for the day.

David Blanc 34:41
So if you follow my advice, and you use a website called auto escape, which is a comparison company, between different regular rental car companies, so Auto, they’ll direct you to the lowest prices, and I find it to be much lower than What you find on Expedia or kayak? So it’s, that’s my advice. And I regularly find prices from typical usual famous companies like like Alamo for 29 euros for the day with unlimited mileage, which is a nice bonus, especially if you want to do Normandy in two days like Yeah, what Yeah, otherwise you will go over the mileage limitation and the final bill will go up sharply upon your return, right. So you may want to check that your control right. Also, if you do rent a car, you have to return it with a tank that would be full and please don’t do that inside Paris because gas prices within Paris are usually 30% higher than outside the city.

Annie Sargent 35:48
Right and you’ll never find the gas station either. If you don’t know what they look like. You won’t find them

David Blanc 35:52
exactly very small. And also same thing for highways. Don’t put gas on In your tank on a station and highway, because on a filling station there there have to pay heavy taxes to the highway operator. Right. So again, it’s going to be a much.

Annie Sargent 36:11
Yeah, it’s a good 30% more. But the advantage of gassing up and not on the highway is that they always have attendants. And so if you’re American credit card, for some reason doesn’t want to work with this machine. And sometimes they are very prickly, the the attendant can run your card. Whereas if you’re at a Auchan or you know, one of these grocery stores, yeah, supermarket that has a gas station, most of the time, if you won’t take your card, you’re done. dead in the water. So yeah, it’s true.

David Blanc 36:46
And most of them will not take American Express, unfortunately. But the again, the cheapest gas option is like you were saying on the parking lot of a supermarket. Yeah.

David Blanc 37:00
Anywhere in France.

Annie Sargent 37:01
Yeah, Leclerc is famously pretty competitive.

David Blanc 37:05
Carrefour, etc. Yeah, so finally, you don’t have to accept optional insurance when you rent a car if you pay and give the deficit using certain premium credit cards.

David Blanc 37:21
So for example,

David Blanc 37:24
gold American Express or visa that that will cover those extra insurances, right? Right.

Annie Sargent 37:30
That’s but I would check with them because I’ve read stories again on the on the group, where people say I thought I was protected and I wasn’t. So you just need to, you know, check.

David Blanc 37:41
Sure, sure.

David Blanc 37:44
I’d like to finish with a few reminders. So, we talked about flying, we talked about trains, is very usual to fly in the US. You don’t even think about taking a train. But in France it’s the opposites. Trains are faster. If you want to fly from Paris to Bordeaux or Marseille just the train is faster train is faster for sure. Also, men, I hear this almost every time I have clients here in various landing its Charles de Gaulle airport on a work day, early in the morning from the US means that you will be spending at least two hours stuck in your taxi. Do not ride a taxi. Add that hour people get really upset. Usually they get to their hotel, they’re exhausted. So I know the taxi or Uber is more comfortable but be careful between 6am and 10am. It’s a really bad idea to enter the city. by car

Annie Sargent 38:49
Yeah. 9:30

Unknown Speaker 38:51
Yeah, so yeah, basically. So either you book a flight that gets to Paris later or take the RERB train that will take you to the Heart of paris in 35 minutes for 10 euros. Yes,

Annie Sargent 39:02
of course but you’ll feel like a sardine because you’ll be in there with a few thousand of your favorite people. So, you know, yeah,

David Blanc 39:10
I know except you should take care and that’s another thing we should mention the RERB has two different services from the airport to one is an omnibus and stops at every station and that’s the sardine one for the direct train. And they have a direct every other train is direct, direct to Gare du Nord so that that is fine. That’s completely

Annie Sargent 39:32
that only goes to Gare du Nord?

David Blanc 39:34
Well, then he continues on to Chatelet les Halles and rest of the city. But yeah, a lot of people might complain

Annie Sargent 39:42
Do you have to change trains at Gare du Nord?

David Blanc 39:45
Where depends what your hotel is. And you can reuse the same ticket to use the metro to connect to your final destination in the city. Nobody

Annie Sargent 39:56
can you take like this express train from CDG to Chatelet or Notre Dame?

David Blanc 40:06
Absolutely. Okay.

Unknown Speaker 40:08
Without change? Yeah, the first step will be Gare du Nord and then Chatelet and then Nore Dame. Okay. So it’s also, I mean, it’s much better than taxi during the rush hour.

Annie Sargent 40:21
I’m a big proponent of not RER I have been in there when it was so seriously packed. And I’d rather sit in a taxi, you know, because it’s a standard fare between the airport and your city center anyway, it’s depending which airport and where you’re going. It will be between 35 and 55. And sure you’re sitting in traffic, but I’d much rather do that. Standing in with my noses in somebody’s armpit. Honestly, I mean, like, last time I took the RER from the airport. I was like, never again, this is horrible.

David Blanc 41:03
Yeah, I heard your shows in the past. Yes. But but then again you should you prefer doing the train to avoid the traffic is an option but do the direct one.

Annie Sargent 41:16
Yeah. And you can just see on the displays if it’s a direct rain or not

David Blanc 41:21
correct. You will say, Charles de Gaulle 2, Charles de Gaulle 1. And then Paris north, or Paris nord. No. Yeah. So if it’s just that, then it’s perfect. Okay,

Annie Sargent 41:34
good to know. Yeah, I was on the slow train. Last time. I took the RER

David Blanc 41:38
the stop everywhere. And they run every seven minutes. So one is omnibus, and the next one is direct. So it’s really worth waiting. Seven more minutes.

Annie Sargent 41:46
Yeah. Excellent point. All right, this is this all we’re going to cover for today?

David Blanc 41:52
I think so. I think

Annie Sargent 41:53
you covered a lot of stuff and you have managed to tell me things I didn’t know about. So bravo! No, it’s great.

David Blanc 42:01
Tell us briefly about your Parisian in 15 years, I can tell you you have to learn those things. Yeah,

Annie Sargent 42:06
you do. Tell us a little bit about your tour guiding services. What do you do?

David Blanc 42:14
So on the tour guides, I do walking tours in the city. So I go pick up clients, usually a family, so it’s privates, small tours, small groups, usually a family, a couple of friends. And so I go pick them up from the hotel or Airbnb, and we discovered Parris, local, local, with stops and bakeries, but also I mentioned relevance buildings and history attached to all the sites that we see but it’s also going to local markets, trying different things that we do going to areas that you would not normally discover. And so it’s basically a website you can find the answer is a shortcut called Excellent. text you to me,

Annie Sargent 43:07 Yes. Excellent. Yeah, there’s a lot of people who would much, much rather be with a human guides and do it any other way, which is it’s a good point and especially if you have a group of people, it’s really very good to do it that way.

David Blanc 43:23
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s much better. Of course, having a private guide is a little bit more expensive than joining a large group. But you get to interact a lot. We talk about so many things that people are curious about, like, for example, how our health system works in France, or why is our university free of charge? You know, all these things that might be interesting to understand. And, yes, in politics, we have a nice conversation along the way. Yes. It’s lovely.

Annie Sargent 43:55
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’ve done plenty of those. But because I don’t live in Paris. Now I do GPSaware audio tours, but it’s not the same experience at all. And mine work best with people will you know if it’s a couple or a solo person, especially because it’s inexpensive. You will hear about an area I will walk you to all the best places. But of course, we won’t be talking about politics or sharing a bottle of wine because I’m not there. You know? So

Annie Sargent 44:26
there you go.

Annie Sargent 44:27
All right. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And I will put links to your websites and all of this information that we shared on joinusinFrance. com I’m not sure what episode number this is going to be. But such as life, I never know what number it’s going to be.

David Blanc 44:47
Well, it’s probably going to be on World Radio Paris.

Annie Sargent 44:50
Yes. And it will be on World Radio Paris as well. Merci beaucoup Monsieur Blanc. Okay. Thank

David Blanc 44:57

Annie Sargent 45:00
Thank you, Andy Nelson Jeannie Wallace and David Steinberg for pledging to support the show on Patreon this week. patrons enjoys several rewards, including membership into a secret Facebook group where I answer questions every day or at least as soon as they come up. They can also hire me to be their trip consultant. If they want help with a trip details that you know some can sometimes be a little difficult to figure out, visit forward slash join us. That’s PATREON. Join us with no spaces or dashes to see the different reward tiers and thank you so much for giving back. This week I published a French history brief episode about champagne, Queens, Veuve Cliquot and Veuve Pommery and what it has to do with the emancipation of women in France, and next week, I’ll publish a new lunch break French for people who are Wanting to train the ears to normal fast speed French well at fast normal. My thanks also to Melissa Jacob for sending in a one time donation by using the green button on any page on join us in France. com that says tip your guide and donations of $20. And over also get you an invite to the secret Facebook group. And if you’d like to support the show without spending a penny you wouldn’t have otherwise. Before you go shopping on Amazon, go to the bottom of any page on join us in France. com and click on the Amazon ad because you came to Amazon through my site, I get a small commission and it does not cost you a penny more. And this is new this week. When you click on that Amazon banner ad on the bottom of join us in France. com It knows where you are and it sends you to the correct Amazon store. So if you’re Canadian, it’ll send you to Amazon dot ca if you’re in France and there are a lot of American expats who listen to the show, it will send you to Amazon dot f4, etc. It works for England and for Germany as well. And there’s also a add at the bottom of join us in France. com. If you’re going to be booking hotel rooms, and you start from that banner ad at the bottom of join us in France. The show gets a commission and it helps pay the bills of course, which is always very nice. And again, it doesn’t cost you a penny more. I want to read you a new short review of my Montmartre VoiceMap tour to let you know that this sort of you know two sentence review is perfect. You don’t need to write a long you know, whatever this person wrote, loved this walking tour so much information presented in a highly engaging and fun manner. Thank you for a lovely stroll through the beautiful Montmartre Annie. Well thank you for taking the time to review the tour and he You’re new to the show. Let me explain that this is a self guided walking tour that works with an app called voicemap that you install on your smartphone. And I take you around Paris neighborhoods, and tell you both the stories and the history, if that makes sense. It does to me there. There are a few other ways to buy this tour. But podcast listeners should buy the tour through, because that way they get a nice discount, but you can also buy it directly from the voice map app on your smartphone. Thank you, Lori Schneier for sending in more information about booking an open jaw ticket on miles have added your tips on joining us in France. com forward slash 253. And this is something for you to know in general, I don’t update the audio files once they’re published as a rule because that is a truly painful thing to do. But if I get More information about a specific topic I added to the show notes. So look at the show notes. Okay. Nothing much is happening in my neck of the woods, same old, same old, but you know, I kinda like that

Annie Sargent 49:11
The weather is turning cooler and a bit rainy. They had some devastating rains in other areas of the south of France at some flooding. It was really bad around the Herault So that’s around the Mediterranean coast in Toulouse got windy, and there were some, you know, branches that broke and whatever, but it was not a big deal for us. And next week, I’m going to be helping Elise get started on her tour of Toulouse on voice map. Yes, I’m so excited. She’s going to give that a try. Stay tuned. That’s going to be great. If you want to recommend the podcast to someone who already listens to podcast well tell them to search for join us in France. And if they don’t normally listen to podcast tell them that they can find us on Spotify. are on Pandora or on the website join us in France com or search you know search it really works to annoying sometimes but it works. certain questions or feedback to Annie at join us in France. com Have a great week of trip planning or a great week in France if that’s where you are and I’ll talk to you next week. Over the join us in France travel podcast is written and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2019. By addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives license


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Categories: France How To, France on a Budget