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What You Don't Know About Paris Taxis

Updated March 2013

It's not New York, but taxis are still an important part of city life, and most of us have to use them once in awhile, so here are a few things you should know. Pass it along...

Ever see someone trying to hail a Parisian taxi that's already taken? Or have you yourself tried to get one to pick you up when there's a taxi stand at the next corner? Or worse, suffered the indignity of being refused a ride for whatever reason? There are actually quite a few things about Parisian taxis that escape the radar of residents as well as visitors. Here's the lowdown:

Getting One

If there's a taxi stand within a block, you have to go there to pick up a taxi. Sometimes if you're out of eyesight of the stand a taxi may stop, but they're not supposed to. Most of the better Paris par Arrondissement maps have the taxi stands listed. There's probably an iApp too. Get it.

For first-timers, the whole top of the taxi sign has to be lit up for the taxi to be available. The three little bulbs at the bottom indictae which rate is being applied: day, night, suburbs. If the cab is empty, it's because it's on its way to get someone who called. There's a cute little illustration of this on the Taxi Paris site (upper left corner).

2011 Update: This year all taxis will get new lights that are green faor "available" or red for "taken". Read more about it in the January newsletter under "New Taxi Lights". 

Don't try to steal a taxi that someone called for. They'll ask for your name. And it's bad taxi karma. Like stealing someone's delivery pizza. Pas cool.


There are three rates: A (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm), B (Mon-Sat 5pm-10am, Sun 7am-midnight, holidays all day), and C (Sun from midnight-7am). If you go outside Paris rate B applies 7am-7pm and rate C applies 7pm-7am. To see what the current rates are see the Official Service Public site.

The rate letter is always seen on the counter at the front of the taxi. If you're in a private car, there is usually no counter (private limo services, some airport shuttles, etc.). Because the rate is also seen on the bulb on the roof, the driver can't change it without everyone seeing it, so don't worry about getting ripped off.

The start rate is from €2.50, but it will be more if you called a taxi to come get you, usually around €5. There are extra charges for a fourth passenger (€3) and extra baggage in the trunk (the first one is free, each one after is €1).

The minimum fare is €6.60, even if the meter shows less. Drivers hate doing short rides, so get in and close the door before telling them where you're going. 

NO PARIS TAXIS TAKE CREDIT CARDS. At least none that you can pick up on the street. And they wonder why Parisians hate taking taxis. They're used to waiting while you go to a cash machine, so have them drive you to one closest to wherever you're going or tell tem you need to stop at a "distributeur" en route. 

Tip if you want, it's not required by law (see below). I usually round up to make it easier for the driver to give me change or add a tip if he or she was particularly good at getting me through traffic. If you have no idea where you're going and don't speak French, the driver will probably drive the tip into the fee anyway, so don't go crazy and tip 20%.

Rules and Rights

Most residents already know the info above. But here are some other tips from the Préfecture de Police:

- The bulletin de course (receipt) is required if the client requests it or of the fare is over €15. It has to mention the taxi driver's number on it. Handy if you lose something or want to complain.

- You're allowed to pick up or drop off your friends during the ride without any additional "supplement".

- Seat belts are required for all passengers.

- The driver is not allowed to have anyone besides clients in the taxi.

- You can smoke in taxis that don't have a non-smoking sign. The driver can only smoke if you give your permission.

- The driver is supposed to take the most direct route, but you can ask them to take a specific route of your choice (be prepared for debate, lol!)

- Legal taxi drivers don't ask for your business. Never get into cars with the guys who hang out at the airports or train stations asking if you need a lift. Get into the line for the official taxis with everyone else.

- The driver may help you put your luggage in the trunk out of courtesy, but is not required to do so.

- Tips are NOT required in France, and I would never tip a driver who actually asked for one.

- Taxi drivers can only refuse to pick you up if they are already taken, if you want to go outside the Petit Couronne suburbs (past the airports), if your bags are too heavy for you to lift, if you have a pet (they usually let me with my dogs in a carrier, but are not required except for seeing-eye dogs), if you are so filthy that you would ruin the interior of the car, or if you're obviously drunk.

- The driver can refuse to wait for you or stop in a place where there is no legal place to pull over.

- If you have a scary driver or are in the middle of a dispute, ask to be taken to the nearest police station to settle the matter immediately. 

If you have any problems or complaints, contact:

Direction des Transports et de la Protection du Public
Bureau des Taxis et des Transports Publics
36, rue des Morillons - 75732 Paris CEDEX 15
tél. 01 55 76 20 05 - fax 01 55 76 27 01


If you lost something, contact:

Direction des Transports et de la Protection du Public
Bureau des Objets Trouvés et Fourrières
36, rue des Morillons - 75015 PARIS
tél. 08 21 00 25 25 - fax 01 55 76 17 11

prefpol.dtpp-sdct-botfobjetstrouvesfourrieres@ interieur.gouv.fr

Some Taxi Companies

Airport Taxi 0825–560–320 http://www.central-taxi-parisien.com/ 

Taxis Bleus 0891–70–10–10 http://www.taxis-bleus.com

Taxi G7 01–47–39–47–39 http://www.taxisg7.fr

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Reader Comments (6)

They can refuse to pick you up if you're drunk? That seems counter-productive and likely to encourage drunk driving.
November 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCamille
Excellent advice. Most useful. Thank you.
November 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStuart
I think if you're so drunk you look like you're going to vomit or be abusive to the driver, then it's a good idea they don't pick you up. But I think most people are pretty well behaved in taxis even if they've been drinking a lot, so it's probably rare to get refused.
November 5, 2009 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I hadn't realized that the taxi stands were so important. Now I'll know to head for those when I'm there in December. Thanks for the useful info (and info on tipping too).
November 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Campbell
Wish I'd known this when I studied abroad a few years ago. Next time I use a taxi, I'll be much more informed! Thanks!
November 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Handy. BF hates taxis here (they're truly awful), but when we're in Paris next year he'll be more than happy to take one, at least at the start of the trip
November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFB @ FabulouslyBroke.com
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