Note that there is an "outer ring road" to the Paris suburb area, motorway A86 (or super-périphérique) and another wider ring called "la Francillienne" which isn't completed but still used to connect . If your ride is not going to Paris itself, you might want to clarify which ring they are going to take as it may affect the place where you'd want to be dropped.
During rush hours, it is possible (but illegal) to be quickly dropped on the ring road. This is useful if your ride is not willing to get out of it to drop you (which is often the case). Within the ring area, you are definitely linked to the whole regular fare subway system.
If you are coming from the Northeast and your ride is heading South (which is a normal truck route), chances are that your driver will not drop you on the ring road where it is complicated to stop. A frequent place to get dropped is the first exit South on the A6 called "Rungis". From there, you can reach the Metropolitan subway system with one ticket, then use one to your final destination. You can also reach other suburbs in the 94 department (Val de Marne) taking the TvM bus, which is also a normal Paris ticket.
There are plenty of excellent spots for hitchhiking North (Aire La Courneuve), East (petrol stations and barrières de péage) and also South (Aire de Lisses). It's all about how much you are willing to pay in public transportation, and how daring you are.
These are classified by cost in public transportation from Paris' centre.
Porte de la Chapelle
This option costs one local ticket. Porte de la Chapelle is where the A1 starts. Local drivers say they often see hitchhikers there. To get there take a metro 12 to Porte de la Chapelle, then walk to the roundabout. You can try getting a ride on the roundabout (there are traffic lights, which means that cars have to stop) or you can stand on the opposite side facing the roundabout where the motorway starts. Another good option is to start hitchhiking in the same street where the metro is. There are 2 petrol stations in that very street, just 50m deeper into the city. They aren't overcrowded, and at the same time quite a few cars going up the North stop here for refill; nonetheless, at such places much is depended on your luck, and according to some hitchhikers this place won't make to the TOP10 best hitchhiking places in France. It is therefore rather recommended to hitchhike at the roundabout where a quiet lane right by the traffic lights gives you a good opportunity to get onto the motorway (avoiding at the same time all the traffic that heads for Boulevard Periphique).
Aire La Courneuve
Update 29 October 2012: After almost a year of being out of service, this petrol station is up and running again!
This option costs one local ticket or zones 1-3 ticket (EUR 2.45). The petrol station Aire de Service de La Courneuve is about 2 km along the A1, north of Paris.
First, get closer by public transport. Some options are:
- Bus 150 from Porte de la Villette (metro line 7), get off at Parc des Sports (next to the motorway)
- Bus 250 from Fort d'Aubervilliers (metro line 7), get off at Parc des Sports (the quickest way?)
- La Courneuve Aubervilliers (RER B), and walk 2 km north along Boulevard Pasteur. You can catch this train from Gare du Nord. This option requires a 1-3 zones ticket, without this ticket you will have to jump over the turnstiles to get out of the station of your destination (or talk your way out or closely follow someone else with a valid ticket).
Read this carefully because if you don't, it can be hard to find it and the local people definitely won't know where this is or how to get there by foot! Once at the Parc des Sports bus stop, the highway (A1) is right in front of you if you look in the direction the bus was driving. (There's another road behind it that resembles a highway, but this is just an onramp.) This is the highway that you want to follow eastward. Basically you just walk to the right from the bus stop in the driving direction, without ever passing under the road. Follow along the road and walk east parallel to the motorway, through the parking lots of an apartment complex. There is a wall preventing access to the motorway, but if you continue walking a few hundred metres east and up a slight grassy hill, the wall ends. You can then follow a steep, thorny path full of nettles down towards the motorway and back west towards the petrol station. There is a fence right along the motorway, but near the petrol station it has been trampled down and you can step over it.
From the petrol station, most drivers are only going to the airport or local communities. You should ask for a lift at least to the toll station (péage) heading north. This is a 20-minute drive down the motorway (some kilometres after the airport) and everyone has to stop here. It is a great place to get long-distance rides.
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle airport can be an option for hitching North-East, although waiting times might vary a lot.
Aire de Vémars Est
- From 'Nation' bus station (also a metro stop) take bus *351 to 'Roissypole' located at Charles de Gaulle Airport. It's the last stop and payment isn't required to enter the bus.
- From here, a bus stop for local towns, you can catch the bus to Vémars. Ask inside at the ticket office/information desk for which parking number the bus will be at. The ticket costs €1,90.
- From the Vémars bus stop walk straight on 'Rue Pierre Curie' (D17) 400m until it merges with 'Rue de la Mairie.' Walk an additional 350m until merged with 'Rue des Vignolles' (D16).
- On your left the A1 will be clearly visible, as will the 'Aire de Vémars Ouest' petrol station. From here is another 1.25km to any given entrance.
Another useful recommendation is this website, where you can virtually create any route you want to take out of the city. Coupled with Google Maps, it's an excellent tool:
- Note: The 351 bus service does not run on weekends, but the above link can help find an alternate route.
This option costs EUR 9 (25% discount under 26) + a local ticket to Gare du Nord. The peage is 50 km North of Paris, near the town of Senlis.
Senlis has no train station, but you still buy the ticket from a train station. From Paris Nord, go to Chantilly and switch to a bus to Senlis at the "gare routière" right outside of Chantilly's train station with your ticket. Once there, you need to walk a little and you'll find a "péage" (motorway payment station - people have to stop to take a ticket). The bus driver gave me the directions. This should take around one hour.
A4 East, towards Metz, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Germany, etc
Going directly to the barrière de péage
This one is the most expensive, longest but takes you the furthest to a great pickup spot. Might be a good choice when you don't speak french. Maybe not so good at night.
Take RER A4 to the last stop (Marne-La-Vallee - Chessy). The train journey length is around 40 minutes (EUR 6 something). Take the bus number 59 (doesn't operate on Sundays, the ticket costs around EUR 2) which leaves from the bus stop next to the RER train station at Eurodisney, Marne-La-Vallee (timetable 2010 here). It takes ten minutes to arrive at the “Truffaut” gardening centre which is beside the péage (stop Coutevroult - Truffaut). From there, walk back a bit and go through what seems to be a police station's parking area and is called "voie de service" on the map - you will get to the green area right outside the péage - and you won't need to jump any of the fences! From this barrière de péage it is easy to get rides to Metz or even straight to Germany. You might meet people (gendarmes or motorway staff) in that "voie de service" - even if they try to talk you out of it, remember it is allowed to hitchhike in the car park by the péage.
Attention, the bus 59 runs every hour. It is usually timed to start 5 min after the arrival of the RER so hurry yourself up from the train. Follow the signs "gare routière" (bus station). If bus 59 doesn't start before 30 min, consider using bus 34 (see bellow).
If you decide to hitch from this péage on Sunday you can take the bus no. 34 (EUR 1.60, timetable) to bus stop "Bailly-Romainvilliers - Place de l'Europe" , then walk for about 2kilometers. You will soon see the motorway A4 and péage. Here's the route.
The barrière de péage is located here.
Via petrol station
Quite long trip and a bit expensive. Takes you to a great petrol station. better if you speak french and good day-and-night.
The first petrol station is close to RER A station Bussy St.Georges.
You can also try to catch a bus to Bussy St George nr.4 or nr.44 from the metro station Gutenberg.
From this station walk South for about 1 km along a bigger road which will lead you to a roundabout. You can try hitchhiking from there but the needed petrol station will be just a bit more than 2 km from there. You can walk on the grass field next to the motorway. The petrol station is called La Ferrière. Another option to reach this petrol station is to walk through the industrial zone of Bussy area, to the South of the railway, then reach the bridge over the motorway and follow further by walking on the grass until the actual petrol station (note that as of February 2011, there was a nice-sized fence to hop after crossing the bridge. nothing too difficult, but a big pack makes it harder!). Most of the walk will be on the road which means you will save some time while at the same time such a walk won't be so annoying if you happen to hitchhike in winter (then you apparently don't wanna go through the fields).
Here's a map for you.
Onramp to the motorway
This one is close to Paris, faster and cheaper to get to, but still in the megapolis. Starting from there, you're likely to end up either on the petrol station described above or at the Péage described ab-above. Not good at night.
Take the RER Line A (Red) in direction of Boissy St Legere until the station Nogent Sur Marne (EUR 2.70 (2010-11). Leave the station in direction of Rue Joinville and follow the sign to the A4. It is a 30 min walk. There is a red light before the onramp. Lots of traffic, possibility to stop on the ramp for brave drivers.
Ask if your driver can take you at least to the next petrol station which is within the free motorway network. Toll gate is a bit further.
From within the city limits: Quai de Bercy
Chaep, as you will only need a metro ticket and pretty fast too.
You can also try to hitch directly from within Paris rather than taking the train for at least half an hour and then walking.
Take the metro line 14 to Bercy and exit towards Boulevard de Bercy, take the Boulevard down to the bridge where it intersects with Quai de Bercy. Standing on Quai de Bercy it is adviseable to have a sign indicating you want to get onto the A4. When cars stop, ask if they are going all the way to the toll station (péage), many drivers turn off the A4 before that but there are not really any convenient places to continue hitch-hiking from before the toll station.
Getting South or Southwest (A6, A10 or A11)
These spots are close enough to the city to be getting traffic in all southern directions.
Once the most famous hitchhiking spot in France, this spot isn't bad nowadays, but it isn't great either. The good thing is that drivers aren't surprised to see people there, and that you don't need to get out of Paris in faraway suburbs.
Porte d'Orléans is the terminal subway station of line 4. There is an entry on the périphérique ring road where lots of people are later heading South. The best place is besides the "Novotel" building or (better) opposite it at the traffic lights. Be warned, traffic here is heavy and fast moving. If you have much baggage or more than one person I would not fancy your chances here. Waiting at the petrol station or even the adjacent war memorial will not give you the best traffic.
Make sure to specify with a sign specifying that you go to Orléans (if you are heading Southwest - A10 or A11), and that the driver will leave you at least at the "péage de Saint Arnoult". If you are heading directly South, have a sign for Lyon and make sure to be left at Aire de Lisses, roughly 35 km further, a little bit after Evry (drivers to Evry are not enough for you).
When I was here in Sept 2011 many hitcher came and later went to get a train a local train to an outlying town because they had no luck.
Whenever a diplomat travels between Paris and the Orly airport, he'll go through here. Which means that there will be police presence. The police doesn't care about you, but it is very unlikely anyone will stop while they are around. That happens often enough. They stick around for one hour.
For more personal opinions and experiences check the talk page.
Similarly Porte d'Italie which is not far from Porte d'Orleans is a good place to hitch from. Additionally if you walk down the exit there at the traffic lights there is an overhead bypass which can keep you dry in the rain.
Aire de Lisses
This option costs EUR 5.85 (but possible to have ride without ticket also), a zone 1-5 ticket and takes roughly 1h15. Aire de Lisses is the first service area on the A6, situated about 35 km South of Paris. It can save you time because you avoid all outbound traffic not really heading your direction, being after all the branch-offs.
Get the RER D towards Melun via Corbeil. Be careful to get on the right train as there are 2 routes for RER D towards Melun. As of 2010-02, the ID of the train you need was "ZIPE" or "ZOPO" (All trains on RER lines have a 4 letter ID depending on stations served). If it's too confusing (it's very confusing), get whatever train that goes to "Corbeil Essonne" and, from there, whatever train that goes to Melun. Get off at the station Villabé, the second after Corbeil-Essonnes. The station is not marked on Google Maps but don't worry, it's there: the way from Villabé RER station to Aire de Lisses
A problem with a petrol station is that leaving trucks can block the leaving cars, so cars won't have chance to stop at all. Artti stood there three hours without a sign until he walked to the ramp next to the petrol station. There is more traffic and therefore more chance to get ride. Also cars have lot of space to stop.
Aire de Nemours
You can take a train to Nemours Saint Pierre (transilien R from Gare de Lyon) and walk 45min to the service area ( http://tinyurl.com/2bs24sf ). Then you're already on a paying section (no local traffic), far out from Paris (80km), and can get a ride to Châlon, Mâcon or Lyon in a few minutes.
A10 South-West to Orleans, Bordeaux, Spain and A11 West to Le Mans, Nantes, Rennes and all parts of Brittany
The A10 and A11 motorways follow the route of the A6 (see above) from Paris, and split from it near Antony/Rungis. Then, before the A10 and the A11 would split up, there is a service station near Briis-sous-Forges and a péage near St-Arnoult, 40 km Southwest of Paris. Whichever spot you choose, ask the driver to take you at least until the Briis-sous-Forges service station or the péage of St-Arnoult. From these places, you can find a driver who takes you on the A10 or the A11 depending on which way you want to go.
Pont de Sevres
This option costs the price of an underground ticket. It takes you on the beginning of the N118 road which connects to the A10-A11 in about 25 km.
Take the subway 9 to Pont de Sevres, its end station. You start walking towards the bridge, where you can see the signs towards Nantes, Bordeaux, etc. The hitchhiking spot is just before the bridge, at the red lights. You can try with the cars coming from the direction of the metro station, and also with the cars which came along the river and are turning left to get to the bridge.
This option costs EUR 2.95, a 1-4 zones ticket. This option is useful to get out of the rings and get directly on the A10 after all the branch-offs.
Take the RER B to Massy-Palaiseau. From there, follow the motoway signs for the A10. There are two options: take a bus from the massive transport lot beside Massy-Palaiseau station or walk down a motorway ramp nearby.
Motorway ramp option: Go down the Avenue Carnot along the Massy-Palaiseau railway, towards the autoroute. After a while there you will see a long stretch of a road with lots of space for cars. Keep going and you will reach a roundabout. If you keep following this road, you will reach a motorway exit underneath a bridge. Make sure to get a ride to the first barrière de péage (30+ km) at St-Arnoult or to the Briis-sous-Forges service station 5 km down the road.
Bus Option: The first petrol station is situated near the village called Briis-sous-Forges. To get there you need to take either RER B to Massy-Palaiseau From there take the bus 91.03 to Briis-sous-Forges. It runs about 3 times an hour on weekdays, once an hour on Saturdays, and there are no buses on Sundays. The petrol station is situated a couple of km north from the village. To reach it you will need to find Route d'Invilliers, a small local road. Once you are there, make sure your driver takes the right road as the A11 starts not far away. It's not easy to find the road to the petrol station. no one in this village knows what street he is living in let alone that route you're looking for. They don't even know that there's a petrol station in the area. write the instructions and study the map!! I was lost in this village for couple of hours. Briis-sous-Forges to the petrol station map
this one (good enough one, according to some hitchhikers). Really good according to others. Took two guys ten minutes to get a ride and a third guy about the same amount of time to a different place. Lots of trucks and cars passing by!
Chartres: a spot to go directly on the A11, after it has split from the A10
Take the train from Paris-Montparnasse to Chartres (EUR 12) and start hitching from there. You might want to go to the service station Chartres-Gasville on the A11 east of Chartres (bus plus one hour walk!). From the train station, take one of many buses that stop at the Morard station. Here starts bus 12, take it and get off at N.Conté - some minutes before you arrive there, memorize the route: the bus crosses the motorway, and comes to a big roundabout where it turns right and continues to a second small roundabout to turn right again to arrive at N.Conté. Now comes 1 hour of walk: go back to the big roundabout and turn right (east) to follow the N10 until you come to a small city. There you encounter the next roundabout, where you turn left. Follow the street, it bends to the right and ends on the Rue du Bois Paris where you turn left (north). After 500 meters comes the motorway, continue until you have crossed it. The service station is 400 meters east, so try to pass through the trees on your right and follow the street to the service station.
Paris public transport
Public transport in Paris consists of a metro (lines from number 1 to 14), RER (fast trains serving the suburbs with relatively few inner city stops, lines from letter A to E), buses (lines from number 20 to ...?) and trams (lines from T1 to T4). If you want to make a few voyages, the cheapest option is to buy a carnet of 10 single tickets (EUR 12.70 instead of 1.70 each - January 2012). You can travel to the end of RER lines for about EUR 15. If you stay in Paris for several days and will use transport often you can also buy a pass "Mobilis" for one or several days (EUR 6.40 for one day inside Paris, zones 1 & 2) - it is valid on metro, RER and ground transportation. If you stay for a week or more - consider getting a "Passe Navigo découverte", which is a chargeable card with picture (EUR 5 to make). You can then buy a weekly ticket for EUR 17.20. Note that this replaces the former "Carte Orange". All prices as of Winter 2010.
You can blackride easily, just check for uniformed controllers before you pass the gates. The easiest way to get in on RER or Metro is to find the entrance where there are doors for people with big luggage. This way you can easily pass with them, several people at a time, no problem. Alternatively you can jump the turnstile if you are fast enough and hold the door thing open after someone has passed. It is quite easy to ask people to go in with them through the baggage gate but also you can just follow without asking. If you do get caught just give your ID and no address. They will ask if you have a French address and you say no. You don't have to sign anything they give you. They should give you a piece of paper with a fine written on it, but since there is no address don't worry.
Ticket checks never occur on actual metro trains, and ticket controllers seem to employ 1 of 2 approaches: first one includes ticket controllers forming a line inside a metro tunnel or station exit and checking all the exiting travelers (since they are uniformed it is easy to see them from a distance unless they decide to hide around the corner); second one involves civil-dressed controllers watching the gates and busting those jumping over - they'll either stop them directly themselves, or radio-report to uniformed controllers who then will ask a stopped person to show a valid ticket.
Checks are said never to occur during rush hours; peak times for these controls are evenings, weekends and the beginning of a new month. Except for the major stations, it is pretty easy to jump over the barriers, or pass through following other people passing to the ticket-zone. Only on major stations one is required to have a validated ticket when exiting. As in some other countries, one can be relax about the ticket booth staff since they have nothing to do with ticket checks.
Uniformed controllers will ask for validated tickets on trains, and since the RER shares the metro infrastructure, you might be a subject to the checks in similar order mentioned above. It is possible to travel for free, even though you stand a higher chance of being busted. It seems that checks can occur at any time, so the best time to travel for free is a rush hour when controls are impossible due to congestion. The highest risk of being checked seems to occur on transfer stations from RER to metro stations. There are 2 big ones, Chatelet and Gare du Nord. If there is control at one of them, try the other. At Gare du Nord it seems the luggage entrance is a little more hidden than at Chatelet so even if there are controllers you can probably pass quickly if there are lots of people around. On some RER stations that are also train stations controllers wait in the tunnels when you go down to change between platforms.
You often need your ticket to get out of the stations, as price varies according to the distance. Make sure not to lose it as it can be tricky to get out otherwise.
Like in most cities of France, you can walk onto the bus without showing or validating a ticket. Checks are said to be rare, and occur mainly late at night.
Fines and punishments
French transport police won't make any exceptions for foreigners. Although it is said it might be possible to talk them out of fining a "dumb tourist" they are mainly hostile. Most commonly they will ask for a EUR 40 fine which can be paid directly in cash or by credit card. Alternatively you can plead poverty, and if you show a valid ID they will post a fine to the address and the name written on ID.
Going to Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport
Bus line 350 goes to Gare de l'Est, and line 351 - to Place de la Nation. You're supposed to validate 3 tickets (which is a lot cheaper than travelling by RER); checks are said rare to occur.
Vélib’ bicycle rental system
The grey bicycles a lot of people are riding on can be rent easily. Just look for a rental station within the Peripherique, you can register there with a credit card that is good for EUR 150 credit. A daily rental pass costs EUR 1.70, a week is EUR 8 (January 2012). With these passes you can rent a bicycle for 30 minutes for free as often as you want. Make sure to return it within those 30 Minutes or you will have to pay additional fees. Check the English Wikipedia Vélib' article for more information. Great and cheap way to get around.
Sleeping in Paris
Hospitality exchange networks can be a great choice when staying low-budget in Paris. However, one must plan usually such staying well ahead since Paris is a popular destination for many backpackers, and many hospitality exchange networks' members are usually overloaded with requests to have guests.
It is also possible to sleep in the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower - police generally lets you sleep until 9 or 10 in the morning. There are many trees that offer you a protection in case of a rain. You can also put up a tent (at night) in a discrete spot although keep in mind that police officers will wake you up around the sunrise. You can also sleep under the bridge at the Seine river on the other side of the Eiffel Tower. During the first European Hitchhikers Week (888) around 50 people slept in front of the Eiffel Tower.
There are also good places to sleep in the tunnels of Montsouris, which are part of old railway network. It is a hidden place and maybe the most well-known unofficial entrance to the famous Paris Catacombs. You must climb over a wall near the intersection of Avenue Jean Moulin and Rue de Coulmiers (Google maps).
It is possible to sleep in the catacombs as well. To reach them go down the stairs and turn right. In the middle of the long tunnel there is a hole at the right. Be advised that you should not enter the Catacombs alone or without a person who has a lot of experience climbing around the Paris underground. It is an extremely complicated system of tunnels, perhaps the second largest in the world. In many rooms of the Catacombs you can find a luxury of places to sleep, but you can just as easily get lost in areas where nobody has been or will go for months. The few people who live in the catacombes might become aggressive when you meet them. Sometimes the ground is full of water, around 20cm high. Print a map of the catacombes.
Here you can find a map of places where you can have free showers in Paris. It seems that the closing times mon-wed are 17.30 instead of 18.00 as it writes on the website. Also you should get there 30 min before the closing time or you will not be allowed inside. So get there before 17.00. They are great! :)
Go to Apple Store behind Opera Garnier or to Apple Store under Louvre Museum in the Carrousel de Louvre.
Libraries offer free internet. If you have your own laptop it's practically unlimited otherwise it's free just 15 minutes using library's computers.
On the Avenue des Champs-Élysées there are two fast-food restaurants called Quick, they have free WiFi and also electric sockets and the personnel is not going to bother you because of their use. And there is one Apple store or maybe just a PC store with computers free to use and they also have Internet, but you can't use Facebook and the personal will not allow you to charge your phone there.