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Living in Paris

A Comprehensive Guide About Living Well in Paris

Our guide to living in Paris will show how fun and vibrant life as an expat in in the city of love can be—if you learn the language and adapt to Parisian customs. Read on to immerse yourself in French cuisine and culture and learn more about the city’s diverse population, but don’t be shocked when you find out how expensive beer can be.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Life in Paris is romantic, and exciting, but it is also expensive. Daily amenities, and housing carry a heavy price tag in France’s most populous city. Around 2.2 million people spread out across 20 arrondissements (municipal districts) live here. With so many people wanting a piece of Paris’ je ne sais quoi, there comes a housing crisis. Finding something affordable is an entirely different story. But don’t let this discourage you from living the Paris dream. Our housing experts at InterNations GO! will help you and your family through the process of finding your new home away from home.

Despite the housing malheur (misfortune), Paris has a lot to offer to its residents. In the running to becoming one of the greenest cities in Europe, Paris has set a goal to be carbon neutral as well as completely powered by renewable energy by 2050. One of its efforts, as stated in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, is to transform school and college campuses into green urban oasis’s, in order to reduce the built-up heat in the city during the summer months. This includes planting more trees, establishing more rooftop gardens, and putting up fully plant-covered walls.

Whether you are thinking of relocating and are looking for tips for living in Paris (learn French, and dress well), or you already have everything set to go, this guide will help you learn more about life in the Ville Lumière (City of Lights). Paris owes this nickname to the fact that it was a big catalyst during the Age of Enlightenment. Also, it was the one of the first European cities to use gas streetlamps.

Life as a Foreigner

When moving to Paris many foreigners have this romanticized notion of what it is like to live in the city of love. In the beginning, you will probably be taken by this je ne sais quoi that Paris emanates. You will enjoy a magical ride of sunset walks along the Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower), and picnics at Montmartre eating macarons, croissants, and beignets. But one day you might not notice all the beautiful Haussmanian buildings anymore, as with time they might start to blend into one another, and you will walk the city in a blur, trying to avoid bumping into tourists, and stepping on dog poop.

It is important for expats to realize that Paris can be the city for freedom, culture, and creativity like in movies. There are more benefits to living in Paris than there are downsides. The most important lesson expats can learn is how to not let the cons outweigh the pros by adapting to the Parisian standard of living.

Regarding the City: Overview

Living in Paris can be an enriching experience. As an expat you are forced to really get out of your comfort zone and make an effort to integrate. You will not be able to retreat to speaking English as easily as if you had moved to an expat haven. Paris can really get under your skin, but if you accept it the way it is, you will be able to experience life there from the eyes of a true Parisian with all ups — apéro (happy hour) and sunset at Montmartre —, and downs — waiting at the préfecture for five hours just to be told you are at the wrong office.

It is Expensive to Live in Paris

One thing every expat agrees on is how expensive Paris is. In the 2020 Economist Intelligence Unit survey, Paris ranked 5th most expensive city in the world. The city of love is also one of the top ten worst places for expats according to the 2019 InterNations Expat Insider Survey. The main reason for this is that it is hard to get settled, because of both the language barrier and the housing crisis. Rents and mortgages are not the only exorbitant costs. Day-to-day amenities, such as groceries carry a heavy price tag. A beer in a bar costs on average between 7 and 9 EUR (8 and 10 USD). This shocks foreigners so much that local magazines felt the need to create a metro map showcasing where to find the cheapest pints in Paris.

However expensive daily life may get, something Paris does well is free healthcare and education. Both are subsidized by the government and taxpayers, making them accessible to everyone living there. Museums are also free for everyone under the age of 26, and free for everyone else on the first Sunday of the month.

Rounded estimates

EUR USD
Milk (1L) 1.20 1.30
Eggs (12) 4 4.40
Local cheese (1kg/Xlb) 14 15.40
Baguette 2 2.20
Apples (1kg/Xlb) 3 3.30
Bottle of good wine 8 8.80
The Never-Ending Paperwork

Parisian bureaucracy can become easily tiresome when it comes to the hoops, expats and all residents alike have to jump through. Be prepared to plan at least one whole day to run errands. It is not uncommon to wait hours on end at the préfecture (registration office), and then be told you are at the wrong office.

Many expats noticed that customers are not kings nor queens in this city. Some had to pour their hearts out about some personal drama, in order to get sympathy from the customer service worker.

Parlez-vous Anglais?

When starting a conversation with a local, try avoiding using this particular question, which translates into “Do you speak English?” Parisians prefer speaking in theor native tongue. Before moving to Paris, consider starting to learn the language. Our experts at InterNations GO! will be able to refer you to a good language school in your area.

It also helps if you memorize the phrase “Je suis désolé(e), mais je ne parle pas bien le français” (I am sorry, but I do not speak French well). Even the grouchiest of Parisians will appreciate foreigners being polite and trying to speak French.

Expats who already have more advanced knowledge of the language should look into learning about common mistakes and false friends. Otherwise you might find yourself sitting in a non-airconditioned office accidentally telling your colleague you attracted to them (je suis chaud(e), instead of saying you’re feeling hot (j’ai chaud).

There’s a Dress Code

Parisians dress well. Not in a fancy, haute couture kind of way, but in a rather classic and simple manner—and they expect the same effort from everyone else. How you dress will tell locals everything they need to know about you. Yoga pants, running shoes, and hiking gear in public is simply intolérable if you want to fit in.

Living in the moment

While some people have a more task-oriented “faire” (to do) and materialistic “avoir” (to have) mindset, Parisians enjoy simply existing (être), and living in the moment. Sitting alone at your desk during lunchtime while nibbling on a sandwich is frowned upon, as Parisians like sitting down for meals, enjoying a good conversation, and savoring every bite. You’ll often hear something along the lines of on est bien lá (it is nice here), reaffirming how pleasant the moment is.

This relaxed and present mindset shows a lot in the way Parisians raise their children. More often than not you will witness the so-called laissez-faire attitude. An “allow to do” culture stems from times when the government did not interfere in the economic affairs of society. This model has since been adopted into the French lifestyle and family homes. Children are often raised in a very independent manner. They make their own choices without parents interfering much.

There is a Lot to Do

In the beginning, you will want to go for long walks just to take in the amazing Haussmanian architecture. For this, you should ignore the rigid Parisian dress code and wear comfortable sneakers.

Apart from incredible architecture, Paris boasts many green spaces and parks across the city. The André Citron park has one of the best views over the city and even offers balloon rides. Going there for a late afternoon picnic with some wine and cheese to enjoy le coucher du soleil (the sunset) over Paris will become part of your to-do list.

The Cuisine is Amazing

You will probably never get tired of fresh pastries,  nor of having apéro (happy hour with finger food), the most French thing you will want to adapt to your life, at the end of a long workday at the brasserie near your work.

It is Very Diverse

Paris is considered to have the most multicultural society in Europe. Around 13.7% of the region’s entire population (13 million) has a migrant background. The biggest communities have Maghreb roots, meaning they come from the former French colonies in Africa. Other large groups are from Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Excellent Education

The education system in Paris is competitive. Students enjoy a well-rounded education, and public schools are free for every resident. Expats settling in the city long-term should consider enrolling their children in a public school. Apart from the monetary advantage, the biggest benefit of sending your kids to a French school is that it will be much easier for them to become fluent in French, which helps them integrate more quickly into society.

Expats moving to Paris for a short period of time should consider enrolling their children in international schools. The curriculum is similar to that of other international schools around the world, and classes are taught both in English and French. If you want to learn more about France’s school and grading system, read the Education section of our France Guide.

Best International Schools in Paris

  • International School of Paris
  • American School of Paris
  • British School of Paris
  • L’École Internationale Bilingue
  • Lycée International de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

 

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Tips and Practical Information

Where to get a Social Security Number in Paris

The most common way to get your social security number is to have your employer request the number on your behalf. All French companies have to submit a pre-recruitment declaration with their local government organization in charge of collecting social security and family allowance contributions, URSSAF (Unions de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d’Allocations Familiales).

In the event that you will have to apply for a social security number yourself, you will have to submit the form S1106 to your local Primary Health Insurance Fund (CPAM; Caisse primaire d’assurances maladie). Find out more about how to obtain a social security number in the working section of our France guide.

Some of the CPAM de Paris offices:

  • 3 Place Adolphe Chérioux, 75015 Paris
  • 1bis Rue de la Pierre Levée, 75011 Paris
  • 28 Rue Boursault, 75017 Paris
  • 2 Impasse Boutron, 75010 Paris
  • 74 Rue Archereau, 75019 Paris

Where to get a Fiscal Identification Number in Paris

When moving to Paris, you will not be expected to apply for a numéro fiscal de référence (fiscal identification number), as this will normally be sent to you as soon as you submit your first French tax return. If you need a tax number beforehand, you can apply for one at a local Centres des Impôts (tax office).

Some of the Centres des Impôts offices in Paris:

  • 4 Rue Boucry, 75018 Paris
  • 10 Rue Michel-le-Comte, 75003 Paris
  • 39 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 75011 Paris
  • 13 Rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris
  • 2 Rue George Sand, 75016 Paris

Best Banks in Paris

  • BNP Paribas
  • Credit Agricole Group
  • Société Générale
  • Groupe BPCE
  • AXA Banque

Top Phone Providers

  • Orange
  • SFR
  • Bouygues Telecom
  • Free Mobile
  • Coriolis Telecom

Top Internet Providers and TV Cable Providers

In Paris and throughout France, internet connectivity is usually bundled with either cable tv packages, phone plans, or both. Usually, your provider will offer you a package with everything included. 

Internet providers in Paris include:

  • Alice ADSL
  • Orange
  • Free
  • SFR

Where to Shop?

Whether you are searching for fashionable ready-to-wear clothing, high-end home decor, fun vintage finds, or organic veggies at farmers’ markets, Paris is the place for you. There is something amazing in the air when you walk through the cobblestoned Marais, or hilly Montmartre to rummage through clothes racks, before stumbling upon a long-forgotten Dior Blazer or stroll along the Rive Gauche’s classy boutiques, and designer stores.

If you love the atmosphere of farmers’ markets, Paris has a lot of them. You will be able to find fresh goat cheese, and good wine from local producers in the Marché biologique des Batignolles, among many others.For a more exotic feel, visit the famous Marché Dejean. Featuring stalls from the West African community in Paris, the exotic smell of spices, as well as the screams of halal butchers trying to outbid each other, will transport you into a completely different world without having to physically leave Paris.

Shopping Streets
  • Rive Gauche
  • Rue de Rivoli
  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés
  • Avenue des Champs-Élysées
  • Rue Saint-Honoré
 Malls
  • Le Bon Marché
  • Galeries Lafayette
  • Le BHV Marais
  • Printemps
  • Marks & Spencer
Flea Markets
  • Les Puces de Montreuil
  • Marché aux Puces de St-Quen
  • Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves
Vintage Shops
  • Vintage Désir
  • Emmaüs Défi
  • Chine Machine
  • Aux Comptoirs du Chineur
  • Episode
Supermarkets
  • Monoprix
  • Carrefour
  • Franprix
  • Auchan
  • Marks & Spencer Food
Farmers Markets
  • Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux
  • Marché International de Rungis
  • Marché Dejean
  • Marché biologique des Batignolles
  • Marché d’Aligre

Housing

Finding where to live in Paris can be one of the most excruciating tasks for expats. Indeed, Paris ranked one of the most unaffordable major cities in the world in the 2019 Global Real Estate Bubble Index, which stated that skilled workers need approximately 15 years’ worth of wages to afford a 60m2 (646 sq2) apartment in the inner arrondissements (municipal districts). Prices have doubled in the last fifteen years, with the average price per square meter rising by 19% since 2016.

Due to the expense involved with buying a house in Paris, the majority of residents have turned to renting. As a result, rental prices have recently risen dramatically in the capital. This has affected all arrondissements.Here is a quick overview of Paris’ housing market: In 2018 the average price per square meter in Paris reached an all-time high of 26 EUR (28.50 USD). Location definitely has a price tag, considering you pay on average 11 EUR (12 USD) more to live in Paris than in France’s second-most expensive city, Nice. If living in the first arrondissement is your dream, you might want to reconsider. The price per square meter is around 31 EUR (34 USD) here, making it the most expensive Parisian district.

Paris’ housing crisis is easily explained. Demands outweigh the supply already available, as well as the available space to build new housing on. So, knowing what to expect when looking for an accommodation inthe Ville Lumière, and how to find a suitable apartment to rent that will not strip you of your savings, is essential. 

Where to Live in Paris

If you are not sure where you want to live in Paris, you should start by getting familiar with the city’s districts. Divided into 20 arrondissements (districts), Paris’ districts all have their own characteristics. Expats should be aware that the downtown arrondissements are smaller in size and attract many tourists. The outer districts closer to the banlieu (suburbs) are bigger and more residential.

The lower numbered arrondissements, abbreviated in French as 1er, 2e, and so on, are typically the moreexpensive areas of the city to live in. If you enjoy living in a more bohemian and hipster area, with a vintage shop and cute café at every cobblestoned turn, you should consider the 3rd district, le Marais.

The beauty of downtown Paris comes especially alive at night, when all the Haussmanian buildings light up from within and immerse the city in a magical light. Paris is, not without reason, named Ville Lumière (City of Lights). The famous Haussmanian architecture actually originated in the late 1800 when the Parisian government gave way to a project intent on cleaning out the Parisian city center from disease and filth.

Arrondissements with higher numbers are more residential and cheaper to live in, but they still retain their character. Are you into street art, great views and picnics? Then Montmartre, the 18e arrondissement, is your home. The main places to live with a family, however, are the 16e and 17e arrondissements, as they are home to many great international schools. If you are looking for a rather quiet and peaceful residential area, that is not too far from downtown Paris, you will enjoy living in the 14e and 15e.

If city life is not what you signed up for, then just across the périphérique, as the circular highway around Paris is known, are the suburbs. The east side banlieu is dynamic and urban, full of events and culture. However, it is also a relatively poor district and densely populated. The west side is more residential and has many houses with gardens. Locals love that it radiates the atmosphere of a village where everybody knows their neighbor. 

How to Find an Apartment in Paris

Expats looking for an apartment in Paris need stamina. Living in the inner arrondissements in a Belle-Epoque style place is a dream for most people. Due to this, these areas are popular, and living space is either scarce or expensive. In addition, expats need to be aware of the mountain of paperwork (dossier) they will need to prepare before going to a viewing. This may sound discouraging, but you should persevere. You will feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest once you have signed your lease.

On your own

Apartment hunting on your own can be exciting. In a city like Paris however, expats who do not speak the language can be an easy target for scammers. You should be particularly cautious when contacting landlords directly via unmoderated websites. Never provide personal data without confirming the legitimacy of the ad, or before viewing the place.

Searching on your own means agreeing to an individual contract set up directly between you and the landlord. As there is no middleman you will be required to handle everything yourself, including replacing or repairing white goods, and doing minor maintenance work. You’ll save on the high agency fees, but as soon as your washing machine or hot water boiler stops working, you might regret not having chosen an agency.

The most popular online rental platforms in Paris are:

  • Particulier à Particulier (PaP)
  • Se Loger
  • Le Bon Coin

Bulletin Boards:

  • The American Church
  • Swedish Church
  • Shakespeare and Co. bookstore
  • FUSAC
With an Agency

Even though renting through an agency might be pricier in the beginning, the advantages outweigh the fees. Not only are the apartment listings verified, but you will be able to view the apartment individually. Moreover, if you need any repairs during your rental contract then the agency will take care of it. If you need the help of an agent to narrow down your search, InterNations GO! offers home-finding services, among many others.

Things to consider (Tips for Tenants)

Short and Long-Term Rentals

French law classifies unfurnished apartments as long-term tenancies, with a standard contract period of three years. This contract can be ended by tenants at any time, though they must serve a minimum notice of three months. Short-term tenancies are typically furnished and have minimum rental contract of one year. Property lets of less than a year are considered holiday rentals and are fully furnished and more expensive.

If you want to learn more about French rental contracts and law, head over full France Housing guide.

Furnished and Unfurnished Rentals

Unfurnished rentals typically come with white goods, such as kitchen appliances, boilers. However, in some cases unfurnished apartments in Paris can be completely vide (empty). In addition to white goods, fully furnished rentals have furniture and come with bedding, towels, and kitchen utensils. While landlords are expected to maintain the overall condition of the apartment, they will not replace or fix any appliances or furniture that break during the rental period. 

How Long Will it Take to Find Accommodation?

The length of time it takes to find an apartment in Paris depends on where you want to live, how much you are willing to spend, and if you are looking by yourself or hiring an agency. Usually, it will take between one week and four months. It is faster with the help of an agency, but it is also more expensive. If you are in a hurry, you should consider staying in a holiday rental until you find the perfect place for your needs.

Renting with Pets

French rental law stipulates that tenants have the right to keep pets. Any tenancy agreement with a clause that says otherwise is not valid.

Still, some landlords are unwilling to let pets live in their property and will state this in advertisements. They are also entitled to put some constraints on the apartment. Tenants are allowed to keep domestic pets (animal familier), such as cats, dogs, birds. As the tenant, you are also responsible for any property damage caused by your pet. Farm animals are prohibited, as well as dog breeds that are considered dangerous by the French government. This includes Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls, Mastiffs (Boerbulls), and Tosas. In addition, you require the consent of public health authorities if you wish to keep more than nine dogs in a rental property.

Specific Tips and Mistakes to Avoid During your Search 

It’s expensive

Housing costs will most likely eat up the biggest chunk of your salary, depending on where you live in Paris. The inner arrondissements such as 1er2e, and the 9e districts are the most popular. The higher the number, the bigger and cheaper the arrondissement. On average, you should expect to pay around 2,500 EUR (2,740 USD) for a two- to three-bedroom apartment in the city. A lot of families, therefore, opt for living in the Parisian suburbs, called banlieu, where accommodation is more spacious and cheaper.

Have Money Ready

Not many people buy property in Paris, so the rental market is competitive and prices are steep. Given that finding a suitable accommodation in the Ville de Lumières (City of Lights) is hard, expats most often just pay up.

Be prepared to pay:

  • An application or “key” fee that is normally not more than 100 EUR (110 USD).
  • A security deposit equal to one- or two-months’ rent. This will be returned to you when you move out if there is no damage to the property. Unfurnished lettings tend to require only a months’ deposit, while furnished rentals often charge more.
  • Agency fees, normally equal to one- or two- months’ rent. Since there are no clear laws, there is no real limit on how much an agency can charge.
  • Some contracts require a condition survey of all the appliances before moving in. Costs here are frequently shared between the landlord and tenant.
  • After signing your lease, you will have to take out a home insurance plan, as this is mandatory for all French locataires.
Prepare your dossier

Expats looking to rent in Paris must be aware of the hoops that they will need to jump through. Before signing a contract, you will be required to fill out an application for the property you are interested in and provide detailed personal information.

Come prepared to the viewing with your dossier. This is a package of documents that must include your passport, visa information, marital status, place and date of birth, work contract, employer’s reference (if necessary), pay slips of the last few months, latest tax return, and the information of your French bank account. Some landlords expect expats, and self-employed people to have a French garant (guarantor). In this case, your guarantor will have to provide the same documents. If you do not have a guarantor you should go through an agency, as some of them don’t require one.

If you need any help finding a suitable home for you and your family, do not hesitate to contact our home-finding experts at InterNations GO! 

Know What You Want

Housing in Paris is in very high demand, especially in the inner city’s arrondissements. So, set yourself a budget, and take your time getting to know the city and its neighborhoods before deciding on where to live. After deciding your favorite locations, you should narrow down your search.

Many Parisian apartments are from the 18th or 19th century. While the large rooms, the high with stucco decorated ceilings, the big double doors, and those typically Parisian iron balcony railings are quintessentially Parisian, those buildings often come with poor facilities. They may not have an elevator, or it might be regularly out of order. In addition, these buildings are often poorly insulated. You will find modern apartment blocks in the city’s outer arrondissements. Most of these blocks tend to have an in-house gym, pool, and laundry room.

If you prefer to live in a detached house with a garden, you will have to move the banlieu (suburbs). Living outside of the city is not only cheaper but more spacious. However, expats find that the journey into the city via car or the RER (Réseau Express Régional) rapid transit system can be a tiring commute.

As soon as you have your priorities, be ready to compromise and act fast: due to extremely high demand, apartment listings are regularly taken down minutes after being uploaded.

Know the Law

French tenancy laws are structured to protect tenants. Once a contract is signed, it is very difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant. This is why landlords are very cautious of who they allow to rent their apartment. Keep in mind that as a tenant, you are responsible for small maintenance repairs during your contract. If you need more information on renting laws and contracts, read our France Housing guide.

Average Rent in Paris

Expats relocating to Paris need to be aware of one thing: it is an expensive place to live. Housing costs can burn a hole in your wallet. Families with children that need more space, and maybe a garden, should consider living in the suburbs. Apartments and houses are much cheaper to rent here than in the city center, partly due to the longer commute time.

If living in the city is your dream, the price should not come as a surprise. The average monthly rent for a three-bedroom unfurnished apartment in downtown Paris costs around 2,600 EUR (2,850 USD) per month. An unfurnished one-bedroom apartment in the center costs around 1,200 EUR (1,315 USD).

Living outside of the city center is more affordable. An unfurnished three-bedroom apartment can cost around 1,800 EUR (1,975 USD), and a one-bedroom apartment on average 900 EUR (990 USD). Price is not just affected by location. Be aware that furnished accommodation is usually more expensive.

When it comes to utilities such as electricity, heating, and water, expats can expect to pay around 100 to 250EUR (100 to 274 USD) per month, depending on the size of the apartment and the number of people living there. Apart from utilities and rent, some apartment buildings come with additional monthly costs like maintenance and concierge fees. To top it off, tenants are also responsible for paying an annual taxe d’habitation (council tax). How much the amount is you will have to pay, depends on your income situation, the rental price, and if you were living in the apartment starting January first of the respective year. If you are not in the apartment yet, then either the previous tenant, or the owner of the property pays the tax.

Local Furniture Shop Recommendations

you have ever been to a genuine French home, you know their sense of style extends well beyond fashion and clothing. Get inspired by going on a scavenger hunt for furniture and home decor pieces or highly coveted antiques off the beaten path, through the old rues de Paris.

Concept Stores
  • Empreintes
  • Merci
  • Pop Market
  • La Trésorerie
  • India Mahdavi
Antique Furniture Shops
  • Galerie du Passage
  • Au Bain Marie
  • Carouche
  • Carré Rive Gauche
Flea Markets
  • Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
  • Puces de Vanves
  • Puces de Montreu

Healthcare

Healthcare in Paris is extensive and of high quality, and the World Health Organization ranks the French national healthcare system as one of the best in the world. The majority of French citizens access the medical system using public health insurance that is subsidized by the government and through taxpayers’ social security contributions. This contribution makes it available to every resident, regardless of their current income or employment status. Public health insurance only covers around 70% to 80% of healthcare costs, with the sickest person will always pay the least. This is because France operates on the principle of solidarité (solidarity), to prevent financial strain being placed on those who cannot afford to pay for healthcare.

As an expat you will also only be eligible for healthcare coverage if you have been living in France for a minimum of three months, and plan on staying for at least six months out of a whole year. Your employer can also offer you health insurance. Other than this, you will need private insurance.

As soon as you register with the local healthcare system, you can get a Carte Vitale, a health insurance card, that you will need to show at every doctor’s appointment. If you are interested in learning more about the medical system, read our full France Healthcare guide.

Top Hospitals in Paris

  • Hôpital Universitaire Pitié Salpêtrière
  • Groupe Hospitalier Paris Saint-Joseph
  • Hôpital Cochin
  • Hôpital Saint-Antoine Hôpital
  • Européen Georges Pompidou

How to Find a Doctor in Paris

Finding a doctor in Paris can be a problem for expats. That is not because there is a shortage of doctors; on the contrary, Paris has plenty. First of all, your general practitioner, médecin traitant, is responsible for referring you to any specialists. However, a médecin traitant is not appointed to you based on your postcode. Instead, you get to shop around for one you like. It is recommended that you do not change general practitioners too much in a short period of time, as your health insurance might refuse to pay for treatments with your new doctor. You can change your doctor only once every three months.

But, how do you find a médecin traitant, or any other doctor for that matter?

French non-hospital doctors are self-employed. According to French law, they are forbidden from advertising their services, so most doctors do not even have their own website. People used to go to the social security offices (conventionné), town halls, embassies, or pharmacies and to check the doctor’s registry (Ordre des Médecins), or they would leaf through the yellow pages. All of these things are still possible to this day. Doctors are now also listed on the online database Doctolib. You can schedule an appointment directly through the Doctolib website.

Other Medicine and Pharmacies

The majority of Parisians buy their medicines and beauty and skincare products in a pharmacy.  Most pharmacies operate as parapharmcies that sell medically tested, high-quality beauty and hygiene products in addition to regular medicine. These products are not readily available in drug or beauty stores.

Parisian pharmacies are privately owned, so there are few chains. Individual stores can be found on every street corner—they are easy to spot with their flashing green cross sign. Regular opening hours range from 8:30 am to 9 pm, though some offer a 24-hour service.

Transportation

In terms of public transportation, Paris is not much different from other major cities in the world. The network is excellent and extensive, offering metro, bus, tramway, and inter-city trains at affordable prices. Driving a car is also not that different than in other metropolises, as roads can be chaotic and dangerous.

Driving in Paris

If you can avoid getting behind the wheel in Paris, you should. It is already stressful for Parisians who are used to the angled avenues and cobblestoned boulevards, as well as the endless roundabouts that might not even have lane markings. Add to that signs written in a foreign language.

Avoiding car-crashes is not the only problem in Paris. Traffic is endless during rush hours. To discourage its residents from driving, the government is creating pedestrian-only zones, as well as limited and expensive parking spots within city limits. However, cars have hardly disappeared from Parisian streets.

Rules of the Road

Traffic rules in Paris don’t differ much from those in most European capitals. However, you should familiarize yourself with the most common rules of the Parisian roads.

  • Seat belts
    Seat belts must be worn by all passengers at all times.
  • Car Seats
    Children under the age of 13 must always ride in car seats and belts appropriate for their height. They are also not permitted to ride in the front passenger seat unless the backseats are occupied by younger children.
  • Low-Beam Headlights
    Always use low beams during both day and nighttime when driving outside of developed areas.
  • Right-hand traffic has priority

Always give right of way to any vehicles approaching from the right.

  • Speed limits
    Within city lines, the speed limits do not exceed 50 km/h (31 mph). On the freeway, the minimum speed is 80 km/h (50 mph) and maximum 130 km/h (80 mph). When it rains the limit is 110 km/h (68 mph).
  • Roundabouts
    They are everywhere. The basic rule is, whoever is already on the roundabout has right of way. The traffic proceeds clockwise.
  • Alcohol
    The minimum permitted alcohol blood level for drivers is 0.02%.

Public Transportation

The city of lights has one of the world’s most efficient and extensive public transportation systems, divided into 6 public transportation zones. The system runs well into the farthest suburbs, connecting them to metro lines within city limits.

Métro, Bus, RER

Run by RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) Paris’ public transportation system consists of the métro (underground), tram (aboveground tram lines), RER (suburban commuter express train), bus, and noctilien (night bus).

Greater Paris is divided into 6 zones that stretch as far as Versailles and Orly Airport.  The métro lines cover zone 1 and 2, which is almost everything within the city limits. Some metro lines connect to the RER lines, and some busses which in turn extend far into the banlieus (suburbs). Trams run throughout the whole city, as do busses. The nightline bus network replaces most of the métro routes and extend into the suburbs. It runs from 12:30 am to 5:30 am.

Fare Costs

Tickets for the Parisian public transport are called Navigo.

EUR USD
Single Navigo ticket 2 2.20
Carnet Navigo (10 tickets) 16 18
Weekly Navigo pass (all zones) 23 26
Monthly Navigo pass (all zones) 75 83
Carsharing

In the race of who can lower their carbon footprint first, Paris is taking the lead as a major city within Europe. Many carsharing companies can be easily found in one app called Free2Move, and the city has launched a 100% electric car-sharing service with a fleet of over 500 cars, called Zity.

Other carsharing companies are:

  • Car2go
  • Ubeeqo
  • Drivy
  • Mov’in Paris
  • Communauto
Taxis and Uber

You can book a tradtional through the number 01 45 30 30 30, or get one directly at one of the many taxi stands along the streets of Paris. The cost for a ride from downtown Paris to the Charles-de-Gaulles airport costs on average 50 EUR (55 USD). For a ride booked in advanced you may pay a 7 EUR (7.80 USD) fee, for one that is called when needed the fee is 4 EUR (4.40 USD).

Apart from taxis, Paris also has many cab-hailing providers such as Uber. You can also take an UberPool, which picks up people going in the same direction as you. This system is considered better for the environment and for your wallet, if you don’t mind sharing your ride with strangers. An uber ride from downtown Paris to Charles-de-Gaulles airport costs around 40 EUR (44 USD).

Vélib

Paris was one of the first European cities to launch a city-wide bike sharing scheme in 2007. Now Vélib, which is a fusion of the words vélo (bike) and liberté (freedom), has around 20,000 bikes and 1,800 rental stations all over Paris. The concept is easy. Sign up at the station, pay for the ride, which is 1 EUR (1.15 USD) per half hour, and pedal away. Keep in mind that the stations do not rent out helmets, so you should bring your own.

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Updated on: June 17, 2020

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