- 1 Transport
- 2 Accommodation
- 3 Food
- 4 Internet connectivity
- 5 Busking
- 6 Travel destinations
Belleville and Ménilmontant in north-eastern quarters have cafés and bars which are affordable,
Fast trains are expensive and less fast trains are not very practical to get around. Blackriding is pretty easy but don't go to the big stations and crossing between lines in the same station is risky! they don't come on to the trains in the metro (although they might on the RER)
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 (EUR 12.70 instead of 1.70 each - January 2012). You can travel to the end of RER lines for about EUR 15. 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 (EUR 6.40 for one day inside Paris, zones 1 & 2) - it is valid on metro, RER and ground transportation. If you stay for a week or more - consider getting a "Passe Navigo découverte", which is a chargeable card with picture (EUR 5 to make). You can then buy a weekly ticket for EUR 17.20. Note that this replaces the former "Carte Orange". All prices as of Winter 2010.
You can blackride easily, just check for uniformed controllers before you pass the gates. The easiest way to get in on RER or Metro is to find the entrance where there are doors for people with big luggage. This way you can easily pass with them, several people at a time, no problem. Alternatively you can jump the turnstile if you are fast enough and hold the door thing open after someone has passed. Different stations have different types of gates, but it is always possible to find a place that can be jumped or follow somebody closely or go in the exit gate. Some exit gates have a sensor on the other side, so you can wave your hand or a jacket in front of it and it will open. It is quite easy to ask people to go in with them through the baggage gate but also you can just follow without asking. Many people are very understanding and helpful and some will let you in when they see you looking for a good spot, without you even asking.If you stand near the gates for a couple minutes during a busy time you'll likely see somebody else blackriding, as it is so common, so just do what they do. If you do get caught just give your ID and no address. They will ask if you have a French address and you say no. You don't have to sign anything they give you. They should give you a piece of paper with a fine written on it, but since there is no address don't worry.
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 EUR 40 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.
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 travellers (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.
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. There are 2 big ones, Chatelet and Gare du Nord. If there is control at one of them, try the other. At Gare du Nord it seems the luggage entrance is a little more hidden than at Chatelet so even if there are controllers you can probably pass quickly if there are lots of people around. On some RER stations that are also train stations controllers wait in the tunnels when you go down to change between platforms.
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.
Vélib’ bicycle rental system
The grey bicycles a lot of people are riding on can be rented easily. Just look for a rental station within the Peripherique, you can register there with a credit card that is good for 150€ credit. A daily rental pass costs EUR 1.70, a week is EUR 8 (January 2012). With these passes you can rent a bicycle for 30 minutes for free as often as you want. Make sure to return it within those 30 Minutes or you will have to pay additional fees. And once you put it, you can directly after take another bike for another 30 free minutes, and so on. Check the English Wikipedia Vélib' article for more information. Great and cheap way to get around.
If you stay inside Paris and you have time, walking is a great option because in some cases it will take you just a bit more time than public transportation and is much more relaxed.
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 to occur rarely.
If you are heading south and you are gonna start in Villabé anyway , I'd recommend to sleep there. It seems that they leave the train station open , and from my experience there were no trains during the night. And if you are the outdoor man type you can find piece of grass there.
Expensive unless you camp.
Every municipality is supposed to have a free camping spot.
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 let 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 or near the boats along the Seine river on the other side of the Eiffel Tower. During the first European Hitchhikers Week (Project 888) around 50 people slept in front of the Eiffel Tower. Also note, there are rats that will unzip your bag and take things at night.
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 (Google maps).
In the Catacombs
It is possible to sleep in the catacombs as well. To reach them go down the stairs and turn right. In the middle of the long tunnel there is a hole at the right. Be advised that 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. The few people who live in the Catacombes might become aggressive when you meet them. Sometimes the ground is full of water, around 20cm high. Print a map of the catacombes.
At Bains-douches municipaux you can find a map of places where you can have free showers in Paris. Bains-Douches are open from Monday to Sunday, they open from 07:00 until 18:00, best option is check timetable on Paris' website. Don't go to Bain-douche Castagnary because it is closed! Also you should get there 30 minutes before the closing time or you will not be allowed inside. Showers are free but you need to bring your own soap and towel.
Shakespeare and Company´s bookshop
Shakespeare and Company´s bookshop offer something they call the ´Tumbleweed´ programme. George Whitman, who founded the store and opened their doors for travellers and authors in 1951 was a self proclaimed ´Tumbleweed´, as mentioned on the website: ´A self-proclaimed "tumbleweed", blowing from place to place´. The only requirement for staying there is that they have space, you are tidy, you read a book a day and you write a one page biography about yourself. Inside George Whitman's old room in the store, there are reportedly thousands of these biographies on the walls.
There is plenty of food wasted every day, like many, all western european cities. check the Trashwiki page for more detailed info
Free wifi in many places, libraries with free computers also. Universities are good places for this. Look for the "Paris Wi-Fi" (map)
Go to Apple Store behind Opera Garnier or to Apple Store under Louvre Museum in the Carrousel de Louvre.
On the Avenue des Champs-Élysées there are two fast-food restaurants called Quick, they have free WiFi and also electric sockets and the personnel will not bother you for using them. And there is one Apple store or maybe just a PC store with computers free to use and they also have Internet, but you can't use Facebook and the personal will not allow you to charge your phone there.
On the same Avenue des Champs-Élysées 71-73 There is a tea shop "Kusmi Tea" and a bench nearby free WiFi called Kousmichoff. If you come after they are closed, you can use the socket that is outside by the base of the window. That helped me a lot late at night once.
You can surf on the internet for free in the library of Centre Pompidou either you have a laptop or not.
Paris as most of other, is a permit city. You can though easily busk in many places without any trouble, and if you act like a foreigner, police won't care too much. It's hard to get in trouble around the small streets of the latin quarter and montmartre works pretty well too! To busk in the metro though you need a very difficult to get permit, for which there are audition in September and February, without that forget about buskin in the underground zone..
There's a brand new free shop where you can find cloths, shoes, and random objects you may find useful (or not):
Siga-Siga 181 avenue Daumesnil Paris 12e Métro : Daumesnil (Lines 6 and 8) http://laboutiquesansargent.org/ Opened from monday till saturday, from 10:00 AM to 01:00 PM and from 02:00 PM to 06:00 PM