Two frightened tourists arriving in Paris had a nasty shock recently when they were hit with a whopping €247 taxi bill from Charles de Gaulle airport into Paris.
Here's what you need to know to about taxis in the French capital to help you avoid getting into a similar situation.
Avoid illegal taxis
If you're travelling from an airport, both Paris airports have official taxi ranks with staff directing passengers into the next available car.
However many unofficial taxi drivers hang around airports and train stations, including Gare du Nord to try to pick up customers. Passengers are advised to avoid any offers for a taxi from people waiting at arrivals.
Instead you should head to the official taxi rank or use a ride-hailing app like Uber, Taxify or Chauffeur Privé (there are others too) to reserve a cab.
If you're travelling around the French capital itself, you can also head to taxi ranks or simply hail one in the street. Look out for taxis with the green light on the roof which means they are free. A red light means they occupied. You are not allowed to hail a private-hire cab or an Uber, known as a VTC (Vehicle de Tourisme avec chauffeur)
Identifying an official Paris taxi
A official taxi will have a sign on top that says “Taxi Parisien” and this will be lit up if the taxi is available and there will be a plate on the outside of the vehicle (front right wing) showing the taxi's license number
Once inside you will see a metre on a very obvious display in the front of the car.
However unlike in other cities Paris taxis are not a uniform colour or model.
Airport flat rate fee
If you're travelling from the Charles de Gaulle airport to the city centre by taxi, you'll pay €55 for a trip heading anywhere on the Left Bank and €50 for anywhere on the Right Bank (see map below).
If you're coming in from Orly airport, it will be €30 for the Left Bank and €35 for the Right Bank (see map below).
However prices will vary and will often be higher if you use VTCs or ride-hailing apps like Uber and Chauffeur Privé, whose prices are not fixed by the law. For example a company like Uber says its prices are fixed for trips from the airports to Paris (see table below for fees) however the notorious "surge pricing" – when prices rise due to demand (known as marjoration in French) – means the rides are often more expensive and work out pricier than a normal Paris cab.
The infographic below shows a price comparison betwen VTCs and traditional taxis.
The fixed tariffs are in place even if it's a public holidays or weekend, as well as if the journey is at rush hour or it is nighttime.
There are different rates according to the time of day and whether it is a bank holiday or not.
Tariff A is from 10 am to 5 pm except on Sundays and public holidays, with the price per kilometre set at €1.07 and a maximum hourly rate at €35.80 (if the speed is less than 31.79 km/h).
Tariff B is in effect from 5 pm to 10 pm (rush hour and nighttime) and Sundays from 7 am to midnight, as well as public holidays the whole day. The price for this tariff is €1.29 per kilometre, with an hourly rate of €38 (if the speed is less than 28,89 km/h).
Last but not least is tariff C which is in place on Sundays from 12 am to 7am, with a price of €1.56 per kilometre and an hourly rate of €35.70 (if the speed is less than 21.76 km/h).
Taxi drivers will be able to charge for supplementary passengers once the number goes above four, which would mean a cost of €4 per extra passenger.
And there will also be a flat rate for the cost of reserving a taxi from airports in future – €4 for an immediate reservation and €7 if it is booked in advance.
It is up to you if you want to tip but a tip will not be automatically added to the bill.
The minimum price you will pay for a taxi in Paris is €7.10.
A taxi driver in France can refuse payment by cheque however a taxi must be equipped with a payment terminal and, according to the law, payment by credit card cannot be refused.
Even though this is what the law says many taxi drivers will tell you their card machine is broken because they prefer you to pay in cash so for convenience sake it's best to take enough money on you to pay.
On the other hand, if you're taking a VTC like Uber you will pay with your credit card or via the app.
Special rules for VTCs
Technically you have to book VTCs at least 15 minutes ahead of your journey although often they are available through the apps much quicker than this.
However it's definitely not possible to hail one in the street instead it is mandatory to go to the website or mobile app to book.
As soon as the cost of a taxi journey goes above €25, the passenger(s) should be given a receipt.
Below this price, it is up to the driver to decide whether to issue a receipt unless the passenger asks for one in which case it should be provided.