Everyone knows that taking public transportation to and from the airport is an easy way to keep travel costs down.
But then there are those times when you land in Paris on a rainy day after a sleepless night in cramped cattle class and endure an escargot-paced jet-lagged slog through customs at the airport, or realize you booked yourself an early morning departure on a frigid winter morning, and hauling yourself and your belongings onto public transport is not worth the savings.
Here are some tips for minimizing costs if you decide to splurge on a taxi to or from the airport. (Related story: Money-Saving Tips for Taking Taxis in Paris.)
From the Airport
Getting a taxi from the airport is a no-brainer requiring you to follow the signs to the taxi stand, get in, give your address to the driver, sit back and hope for the best.
If it’s rush hour, you might end up paying up to €60-70 for the luxury of a ride into town, since trips to and from the airport are not price-regulated as they are in big American cities like NYC and a traffic jam can add a hefty mark-up to your fare.
During off hours when traffic is flowing, a taxi ride into central Paris can drop down to €35-40, meaning that if you are traveling with at least another person, taking a taxi makes more financial sense, since the bus fare for each person ends up being around €11.
Going Back to the Airport
The city’s blue and white taxi stands, ostensibly meant to give passengers an easy place to find a taxi, are often deserted. And if you happen to accidentally hail a cab within 50 meters of a taxi stand, they are not allowed to stop.
In the mornings, on a rainy day or late in the evening, it can be impossible to find a taxi on the street, which makes it tempting to book online with one of the city’s major taxi companies, or call ahead.
The Cost of Advanced Planning
It might be convenient to pre-book a ride to the airport, but if you schedule a taxi to pick you up at an appointed hour, don’t be surprised to find that there is already €10 or more running on the meter, as taxis start charging you from the time they are dispatched, not from the time they pick you up.
If you want to take a taxi but don’t want to pay the extra dispatch charge, leave yourself a bit of time to wander around and find one. If your luggage is light enough to lug around with you and you are patient, you can save money by hailing a cab on the street or at a taxi stand as well as at certain hotels.
A Note on Luggage
Drivers are allowed to charge €1 after the first bag for any additional luggage of 5 kilos (11 lbs.) or more that is large enough to require being stowed in the trunk.
The Tipping Point
Remember that tipping is optional for Paris taxi rides, and not expected. If your driver was pleasant and competent, feel free to round up a few euros, but don’t waste money on an American guilt tip in a country where the rules of gratuity are not the same.