Most budget-minded travelers operate on the assumption that taxis are a lazy waste of money, and often times this is true.
But taking the occasional taxi to get from point A to point B is the sort of small luxury that can make a world of difference when you are tired, traveling with children or older people or in a group to make the ride more affordable.
Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the rules and quirks of Parisian taxis so that a minor indulgence doesn’t turn into a calamity for your wallet.
Before You Get In
First of all, make sure that you are taking one of the city’s 17,357 official taxis, easily identifiable by the “Taxi Parisien” panel perched on the roof. These cabs are manned by card-carrying licensed drivers who are required to pass medical exams and have their taxis regularly inspected to make sure they are both clean and in top working order, as well as regulated meters that protect you from being ripped off.
It probably goes without saying, but never get into a random black car with a solicitous driver asking “Taxi?” A free Parisian taxi will stop if you flag it, but never hound you to get in.
Never on Sunday
Note that Paris taxis have a three-tiered rate system: A, B and C. The bottom line: Taxis are the most expensive on Sundays (and holidays), slightly less expensive from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. and the least expensive from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every other day of the week.
Don’t Blow Your Taxi Allowance on Short Distances
Unlike some cities where the minimum ride is negligible and you can feel justified taking a taxi to get somewhere faster, the minimum ride in Paris is a whopping €6.60. So don’t waste money taking taxis on shorter routes that you can access via public transportation or on foot.
Safety in Numbers
If you are traveling with a group, keep in mind that most sedan taxis will usually take up to three people. There are more mini-van taxis and larger vehicles on the road these days that can accommodate a group, and some drivers will allow you to squeeze in a fourth passenger, but keep in mind that they are allowed to add €3 to the fare if they do.
A Tip About Tipping
In France, tipping your taxi driver is not expected, so don’t feel obligated to offer a large gratuity and only round up to the nearest euro on a small fare.
Also see my related post: How Not to Blow Your Budget on Taxi Rides to and from the Paris Airport.