France is known for a lot: delicious food, world-famous museums, and its gorgeous countryside. But one of the country’s lesser-known great attributes is its vast public transportation system. Easy, affordable travel is available to every resident, with transport possibilities ranging from quick city bus rides to day-long, cross-country train travel. Here are six things to know about transportation in France before retiring there.
1. Buses Are The Primary Mode Of Transportation
When it comes to public transportation, there’s no other option in France quite as popular as the bus. French buses are available both to transport residents around their respective cities and to connect them to surrounding towns. Inner-city bus rides are quick and convenient and a transportation favorite of residents. Long-distance bus rides, though not nearly as fast an option as trains or planes, are the country’s most cost-efficient transportation option.
Some buses allow riders to purchase a ticket upon boarding, while others require passengers to purchase a ticket from a machine at the station prior to boarding. Exact bus customs differ depending on the city, but ticket prices throughout France are relatively inexpensive, and the buses themselves are reliably punctual and comfortable.
2. The Big Cities Have Complex Metro Systems
Some of the bigger cities in France, such as Lyon, Rennes, and Marseille, have incredibly efficient metro systems. Paris in particular has an incredibly popular vast underground network connecting just about every corner of the city.
Passengers can purchase either single-ride tickets or ticket bundles valid for 10 rides. Single tickets for the Paris metro average at $2, while the bundles cost roughly $16. Metros in other cities have similar pricing models. The metro system is a daily commuter’s favorite mode of travel and is a fast, easy way to reach any part of the city.
3. Taxis Are Great For Inner City Travel
If a resident is simply traveling from one part of a city to another, sometimes taxis are the easiest mode of transportation. Although taxis are rare in rural areas of France, they’re just about everywhere in the big cities. While not the cheapest mode of transportation, French taxis, just like those in the United States, are metered and charge passengers by length of ride, so passengers are never hit with surprise fees. All licensed taxis in the country operate under mandated standard rates. Residents can consult lists of official taxi stands to find the most convenient boarding location.
4. Trains Make Long-Distance Travel A Breeze
On top of all of its other wonderful qualities, France is also a train lover’s paradise. SNCF — France’s official train rail system — connects more than 100 cities across France as well as the most popular cities in neighboring countries. While not a common means of traveling short distances, trains are the perfect long-distance mode of transportation in France. SNCF operates via Train à Grande Vitesse, one of the fastest in the world, turning even cross-country train rides into easy day trips.
Residents can pay for a single train ticket for each ride or purchase a rail pass to cover multiple trips. Tickets can be reserved online or purchased in person. In comparison to similar train systems in other European countries, France’s ticket prices are relatively inexpensive.
In addition to their ease and comfort, France’s train rides also offer gorgeous views of the countryside, passing through some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of France. The trains are a favorite of residents throughout the country.
5. Domestic Flights Are Another Fast, Easy Way To Travel Across The Country
Though it may not be as obvious a choice as train travel, some residents choose to hop on a French domestic flight when they want to travel across the country. France has two main airports — Charles de Gaulle and Orly, both located in Paris — perfect for international travelers. However, France also has smaller, regional airports scattered throughout the country, even in the most rural of areas. With several short, domestic flights into and out of these airports every day, air travel is another easy option for residents.
6. Personal Cars Are Always An Option
France has a great, comprehensive public transportation system, but that doesn’t mean that personal cars aren’t still an option. Some residents, especially expats used to traveling in the United States, prefer to get around the country while sitting behind the wheel of their own cars.
Personal cars may be particularly attractive to those settling outside of a city, where public transportation options are not nearly as prevalent. Even the most rural parts of the country have paved roads, frequent street signs, guardrails, and road lights, making cars a safe, reliable mode of transport.
As is the case in the U.S., driving in big cities is a little more difficult, and residents may prefer to rely on the available public transport in Paris and other metro areas.
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