Transportation - Getting around in France


Many large cities across Frace have international airports: Paris of course, but also Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Strasbourg, Toulouse.

These cities are are also well served by domestic flights. Air France (External link) , the national airline, offers several flights per day between Paris and most large cities, the average flight time being one hour. Flights between provincial cities are also possible.


Dense and highly centralised, the railway network is managed by the SNCF (External link) (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer). Coming from London, Eurostar (External link) is the most convenient means of transport.

When transferring through Paris (External link) , it is important to know that your connecting train may depart from a different station. There are 5 main train stations in Paris (Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d'Austerlitz and Gare Montparnasse) each of which can be easily found on the Paris Métro or RER network.


There are several ways of getting to France and by ferry is one. From England, several operators have regular services out of Dover arriving in the north-east of France. Plus, for those looking to explore further into the Mediterranean (External link) , then there are also regular ferries to Corsica (External link) from ports such as Nice (External link) , Toulon and Marseille (External link) .

Coaches, Buses

Eurolines (External link) have a strong, developed network and cover all major European capitals from Paris by coach. They also have an extensive national network within France, covering 224 French destinations, offering another alternative for getting around in France.


To drive in France, you must be in possession of: A) your national driving license (if you're not an EU citizen, you must have your international driving license); B) a certificate of registration, which is called "la carte grise" in France, and C) a certificate of insurance .

If your stay in France is for less than 6 months, you can travel freely with your car around the country. You can also rent a car in France. You will be able to find rental companies at each airport and in most train stations in the country. If your stay in France is greater than 6 months you must change your license and have you car inspected.

Here are some road rules to respect whilst driving in France:

  • The speed limit is 50km/h (30mph) in cities, 90km/h (60mph) in regional areas and 130km/h (78mph) on motoways unless indicated otherwise.
  • The minimum driving age is 18.
  • In France, you drive on the right hand side of the road.
  • Seatbelts are a requirement by law and must be fastened by passengers in the front as well as in the back of the vehicule at all times.
  • The use of a mobile phone while driving is illegal unless in use with Bluetooth or handsfree.
  • The maximum blood alcohol limit is 0.5mg/mL
  • The use of psychoactives whilst driving is strictly prohibited.
  • It is recommended to have your headlights on low during the day.
  • It is mandatory to have a high-visibility vest and hazard triangle in your car at all times in case of emergency.

Attention! As a foreign national committing an infraction under the French Road Code, you will be subject to a fine under the discretion of the state prosecuter. Otherwise, it is possible that your vehicule will be impounded. The charges related thereto will be those of the driver of the vehicule at the time of the infraction.

Public Transport

Several cities in France (Paris of course, and also Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Lille, Rennes etc) have their own métro or tram system and all cities offer a rather expansive bus network.

You will find that for the larger French cities, all the relevant information is available on their dedicated websites.

Paris et Ile-de-France: RATP (External link) (Paris metro- click here (External link) for a map) Transilien SNCF (External link) (trains in Ile-de-France)

Lille: Transpole (External link)

Strasbourg: Compagnie des transports Strabourgeois (External link)

Nantes: Transports en commun de l'agglomération Nantaise (External link)

Rennes: Service de transport en commun de Rennes (External link)

Lyon: Transports en commun Lyonnais (External link)

Marseille: Régie des transports de Marseille (External link)

Bordeaux: Tram et bus de la communauté urbaine de Bordeaux (External link)

Toulouse: Transports en commun de l'agglomération Toulousaine (External link)


Taxis are a common mode of transport in France, especially in the bigger cities. There are, for example, nearly 16,000 taxis in Paris. Taxis can be found at marked taxi ranks, booked online, over the phone or simply hail one in the street.

In order to determine if a taxi is available or not, you must refer to the alluminated white box situated on its roof: if it is lit red, then it's occupied; if it is lit green, then it's available.

Here are some guidelines for when you can't hail a taxi:

  • If it is less than 50m from a taxi rank.
  • If it is found in a bus lane.
  • If it is already reserved (signal box is lit white)

Since June of 2007 in Paris, a unique number to call (01 45 30 30 30) has been in place allowing you to call taxis equipped with a terminal. Through an automated assistant, you can choose which arrondisement and station is the nearest to you. If the station then doesn't respond, you will be automatically connect to a second or third in proximity.

You can equally reserve your taxi through internet and phone taxi services. In order to find out all the information oncerning the rates of taxis in France, please refer to the "tarifs" or rates section of the Taxis of France (External link) website as a guide. Rates will depend on the area, time of day, distance travelled and number of passengers for each trip.

Limousines and private cars

Do you prefer to get around in chauffeur driven cars? If so, then there are maany companies likely to offis this service, here are a few:

Bicycles, Roller And Segway ®

The city of Paris, just like many big cities in France, promotes the use of green engines and two-wheeled vehicles, as well as extending the lanes for cyclists and roller-bladers. A large-scale public bicycle sharing system is set up in several cities like Paris and Nice in France. The same system exists in Nice for cars and it will exist in the urban area of Paris (Autolib’) in 2012.

Vélib' (External link) (from 1.70€/day) and Autolib' in Paris.

Vélos Bleus (External link) (from 1€/day) and Autos Bleus (External link) in Nice.

Parking For Coaches / Recreational Vehicles

The parking for tourism coaches and for recreational vehicles, including caravans and converted buses, is regulated. Before parking in a city or at a tourist site, please check with the local tourist office for more information on the regulations for that area...