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Paris is the capital of France. It is situated within a ring road called le périphérique, or le périph. The actual city is actually small but is surrounded by endless suburbs, some of them being linked to the urban public transportation system at no extra cost, and some other being labelled as outside zones and thus more expensive to reach.
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.
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 (11,60 euros instead of 1,60 each). You can travel to the end of RER lines for about 15 euros. 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 (5,9 € for one day inside Paris) - it is valid on metro, RER and ground transportation. If you stay for a week or more - consider geting a "passe Navigo découverte", which is a chargeable card with picture (5 euros to make). You can then buy a weekly ticket for 17.2 €. Note that this replaces the former "Carte Orange". All prices as of Winter 2010.
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.
<map lat='48.83398957668602' lng='2.34283447265625' zoom='9' view='0' float='right'/> 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.
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 40 euro 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.
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). THIS MOTORWAY ENTRANCE IS NOT CURRENTLY OPEN DUE TO CONSTRUCTION... 18.8.2010
Aire La Courneuve
This option costs one local ticket or zones 1-3 ticket (2,35 euros). The petrol station Aire de Service de La Courneuve is about 2km on the A1, North of Paris. If you take a closer look at the petrol station on Google Maps you will see that there is a wall surrounding this petrol station; nonetheless, there are several ways to get there.
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, 8 Mai 1945 (metro line 7) and make your way to rue Paul Verlaine by taking a tram "T1" and getting off at Six Routes.
- 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
You then have several options to get to the petrol station:
- You can hitch a lift onto the motorway (Autoroute A1) and ask the driver to drop you off at the petrol station. You will need a sign saying "A1 EST". You can do so by walking North under the motorway (if you haven't gone under already in the bus) and cross over to the other side of the road and find a point at the beginning of the slip road going South onto the A1 (this way you will enter the A1 going West, but immediately your driver should get off at the next exit, cross over and come back onto the A1 heading East). Otherwise, you can walk South back to Six Routes, turn right and follow the tramlines (on your left hand side) and find a suitable place to hitch (there are some traffic lights). Your driver will go over the A1 and then take the turning round to the slip road going East. From the point you join the A1 East via the circular slip road, it is only about a 1km until the petrol station, so make sure you advise your driver!!
- There is a door in the wall surrounding the petrol station which allows outside access (it was open on 31-08-10). When you arrive by public transport and do the final 1 km on foot you will approach the wall from the left side. From this side you won't be able to see the door, because it is located behind some sort of manufacturing unit which borders a part of the wall. If you walk around this unit, you will find the door at the very point were the wall of the gas station becomes visible again. At first sight it might not be clear, as it has the same appearance as the wall, but you can recognise it by two holes at chest level, you can put your arm through and feel the lock on the inside. Just pull or push (?) to open it, you'll be entering the service station from the right side, close to the exit and carwash.(See approximate location of the door.) Unfortunately sometimes the door is locked (latter was true on 01-06-08, 28-09-08 and 29-11-08..), then you walk away from the door to the right, follow the concrete wall and climb it at the point where it becomes a fence. Once over the fence you'll have to walk to the left, through the bushes, to enter the station. (See location where the wall becomes a fence - green arrow.)
- You can walk around the wall for about 70 meters towards the left, then walk down the little hill and walk through the bushes. You have to go over a small chain link fence that is bent over at the top and then you are on the motorway.
Other ways to get to that petrol station:
- Take a RER B to Stade de France and then walk up to the final traffic light where you can ask for a ride to Aire La Courneuve.
- Lastly, one can take a line 13 to Carrefour Pleyel and then walk along Boulevard Anatole France (see Google Maps) up until the beginning of the motorway. There is a hitchhiking spot there which might be not the greatest one in the world but at least it can lead you to the petrol station (after Exit 4!).
From the petrol station, you're best bet is probably to get a lift to the toll station (PÉAGE ("pay-arge")), heading north. This is a 20 minutes drive down the motorway a toll road and everyone has to stop here. It is a great place to get long-distance rides. Between the Aire La Courneuve and the barrière de péage (toll station) there is a small rest area and a fairly large petrol station with quite many cars stopping there. Ask your driver if he/she passes this service area.
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle airport can be an option for hitching North-East, although waiting times might vary a lot.
Service station at Survilliers
This option costs 4 euros, which is the cost of a ticket for zones 1-5. The peage is 35 km North of Paris, near the town of Survilliers.
From Paris, take RER D (Chatelet-les-halles or Gare du Nord), direction Orry la Ville - Coye. Get off the train at Survilliers-Fosses (35 KM North of Paris). Walk down Rue de la Gare towards Survilliers town centre, then turn right at La Grande Rue; you will find the motorway. Once there, you can hitchhike from the motorway exit towards the gas station 2KM from here (Paris direction). When you arrive, you take the local road to cross over to the opposite service station to head North.
This option costs 9 euros (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
Take RER A4 to the last stop (Marne-La-Vallee - Chessy). The train journey length is around 40 minutes (6€ something). Take the bus number 59 (doesn't operate on Sundays, the ticket costs around 2 Euro) which leaves from the bus stop next to the RER train station at Eurodisney, Marne-La-Vallee (timetable 2008 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 peage.
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 (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
The first petrol station is close to RER A station Bussy St.Georges. 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. 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). You can follow this route on Google Maps.
Various other options
- If you go to Bussy-St-Georges you can also try to catch a bus nr.4 or nr.44 from the metro station Gutenberg. When at Bussy-St-Georges, walk sraight to the bridge (don't take the first bridge left after the bus stop because than you will have to jump over the fence and to walk through the field (and hitchhiking with wet feet isn't that good, obviously)). The péage is not far from there, although it might be a bit further than the closest motorway ramp.
- Take the RER Line A (Red) in direction of Boissy St Legere until the station Nogent Sur Marne (~2€). Leave the station in direction of Rue Joinville and follow the sign to the A4. It is a 30 min walk. If some driver stops for you, ask if he/she can take you at least to the next petrol station (there is no toll road (péage) to get there, so it is likely that you will get a ride there).
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. There's a petrol station, and a good spot (just besides the "Novotel" building) at the traffic junction to the "périferique extérieur".
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.
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 5,85 euros, 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 line you want was "ZIPE" (All RER lines have a 4 letter ID). 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
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.
This motorway follows the route of the A6 (see above) from Paris, and splits afterwards near Antony/Rungis. The first péage in that direction is St-Arnoult, 40 km Southwest of Paris, before the splitting of A10 and A11. There are no service station directly on the motorway before the péage.
This option costs 2,95 euros, 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 kms North from the village. To reach it you will need to find Route d'Invilliers, a small local road parallel to the motorway. Once you are there, make sure your driver takes the right road as the A11 starts not far away.
this one (good enough one, according to some hitchhikers).
This motorway splits from the A10 near Dourdan. There are several possibilities go get on this motorway:
- The petrol station at Briis-sous-Forges. Look at the A10 section's options.
- Take the train from Paris-Montparnasse to Chartres (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 croses 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.
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 (GPS on Google maps: 48.82548598904712, 2.321111261844635 ). Be advised 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.