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Paris Ile-de-France


Regional Departments
Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Seine-et-Marne, Essonne, Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, Hauts-de-Seine.

Main Towns
Paris, Bobigny, Créteil, Melun, Fontainebleau, Versailles, Évry, Cergy, Nanterre.

Paris is the capital of France and one of the world's great cities. The centre of Paris is relatively small, divided by the River Seine into the Right Bank and the Left Bank with 20 arrondissements (boroughs) spiralling out from Notre-Dame to the Porte de Montreuil. Each district of Paris is connected by a fast, frequent métro system.



The Ile de France are the immediate areas surrounding Paris, easily accessible via highly efficient public transport systems. Orly and Roissy Charles de Gaulle are the two main airports.
The Gare du Nord is the terminus for Eurostar trains to and from London or Brussels.

The Ile de France enjoys the best of both worlds; close proximity to Paris, wide open spaces, woods, rivers and charming country villages. Paris is within quick and easy commuting distance using the efficient RER urban train network.

Versailles and its magnificent gardens is 20 minutes from Paris by car on the A13 or D10 or by RER train. Fontainebleau, the sumptuous palace and the forest, popular for walking, cycling or riding, is 60 km from Paris by car on the A6 then N7, or 35 minutes from the Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon, then by bus marked Château. Vaux-le-Compte in the Val-de-Marne is a similar château with gardens near Fontainebleau.

Château de Chantilly and those at Compiègne and Pierrefonds are in the Val d'Oise north of Paris. By road, take the A1 out of Paris, or train from Gare du Nord.

Disneyland Paris lies in Marne-la-Vallée, 32 km (20 miles) from Paris and is open all year.

The main Paris flea markets are famous and located just outside the city centre. The Marché aux Puces de Vanves (open Saturday, Sunday, Monday, métro Porte de Clignancourt) is arguably the largest in Europe, from 18th century commodes and art deco items to retro ballgowns. The Marché aux Puces de Montreuil (open Saturday, Sunday, Monday, métro Porte de Montreuil) is like one huge car boot sale with mountains of second hand clothes and parts for cars and sundry machines, but there are also fun collectables like branded pastis water jugs.

There are many comprehensive and informative guidebooks and maps available in the travel section of large bookshops in most countries. Many can be ordered on-line before departure.

Travel

Trains
The SNCF runs an excellent rail network throughout France and the TGV, (high-speed trains) are fast and comfortable. Fares are reasonable and the services frequent and reliable. There are adequate buffet cars, although for long journeys it may be wise to take some food and drink. If a change is necessary, local connections are good. Ticket reservations can be made at SNCF stations and travel agents. Before you board the train, always stamp your ticket at the little orange composteurs located by the platforms. Inspectors can impose hefty fines if you are caught without it.
The principal stations in Paris link with most regions in France, they are:

Gare du Nord
Gare de l'Est
Gare de Lyon
Gare d'Austerlitz

The stations are open June-October 8am-9pm, November-March 8am-8pm except for the Gare d'Austerlitz, which is opens 8am-3pm all year. All stations are closed on Sundays.
The RER (Reseau Express Regional) is a high-speed urban and suburban railway that interconnects with the metro at major stations. Service starts at 5.30am - 12.30am and trains run every 15 minutes (more frequently in the centre). Métro tickets are valid on RER journeys within Paris. For journeys into the Ile-de-France and airports, purchase a separate ticket. It is useful for trips outside the city including Versailles, Fontainebleau and Disneyland.

The metro is easy to use and covers the whole city. There are 13 lines and each direction is indicated by the last stop on the line. They open daily from 5.30am and run until well after midnight with the last train leaving end lines at 12.45am . Some of the Art Nouveau stations are worth a visit in their own right. Tickets can be bought at all métro stations and one ticket will take you anywhere on the metro. A Carnet or block of ten tickets is relatively good value at about 10.50 euros.

You can connect to one of the main Eurostar stations from over 100 destinations in Europe. Fast Eurostar services from London and Brussels arrive at the Gare du Nord. The Eurostar from London takes 2.15 hours, Brussels 95 minutes. Eurostar also runs services to Disneyland Paris, to Avignon in summer and, in the ski season, to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Aime-la-Plagne and Moutiers in the French Alps. Some Eurostar services stop en route at Ashford International in Kent in the UK and at Calais-Fréthun and Lille in northern France.

Airports
Both Orly and Roissy Charles de Gaulle International airports are located in the Ile de France and between them they handle flights from every part of the world.
Roissy-Charles de Gaulle is some distance outside Paris. The two terminals are far apart and served by different buses, so it is important to check which terminal your flight will be leaving from. There is a courtesy navette [free shuttle] which runs every five minutes between the RER station and terminals 1 and 2, stopping at both arrival and departure levels. Tickets to the center of Paris can be bought at the station. Trains run every 15 to 20 minutes and take between 45 minutes to one hour.
The Roissy bus is a good means of transport into the city. A one-way ticket can be bought from ticket dispensers or on the coach. The bus leaves every 15 minutes from 6am to 11pm daily and takes 30 to 45 minutes.
An Air France bus leaves every 20 minutes from both terminals and stops at Port Maillot and Charles de Gaulle-Etoile [the Arc de Triomphe]. You buy your ticket as you board the bus. Services run from 5.30am to 11pm daily.
Taxi is the most expensive and least reliable means of transport to and from Paris. If there are no taxis at the Arrivals area, press the small button at the front of the taxi rank to call up a cab from the underground car park. Journey time into the capital varies from between 40 to 70 minutes, depending on the traffic.

Orly Airport is closer to Paris. Air France buses leave from both terminals every 15 minutes and stops at Les Invalides, Porte d'Orleans and Gare Montparnasse. Services from 6am-11pm daily.
Orlyval is a high-speed shuttle that runs from the Antony station on the RER B line in the south of Paris every 5 minutes from 6.30am to 9.15 pm.
A taxi into town from Orly takes 30 to 40 minutes.


 
 
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