Why taxis in Paris don't stop when hailed
A taxi is not allowed to stop:
- if it is 50 m or less from a taxi stand
- if it cannot get to you easily (if you are in a "no stop" zone, or a "bus stop" zone...),
- if it is already on its way to pick up someone else (by the way, in 2012, all Parisian taxis should be equipped with a green and a red light next to their taxi light; green is available, red is busy)
So how do you get a taxi in Paris?
So, when you want to get a taxi, your first move should be to look for a taxi stand: they are around, all 740 of them, so you should always ask your hotel "Où se trouve la station de taxi la plus proche?" (Where is the nearest taxi stand?). They are signaled by a blue square sign on which is written "taxis" and some have some sort of a phone (see picture).
Click to download a PDF of the Taxi Stand Map (884kb)
Some stands are bigger than others, and on rainy Saturday nights, even a big stand may not have available cabs...
Some have a phone you can use to call another nearby station: if there is an available cab there, the driver may pick up the phone and come pick you up at the station you are calling from.
You can also try calling 01 45 30 30 30: you will then have to select your "arrondissement" and closest station. Then the phone of the station will ring, and you may possibly talk to a driver.
Another way to get a taxi is to book one in advance. Many companies (les taxis parisiens, les taxis G7) offer online booking, or booking over the phone. They even have smartphone applications, and their operators usually speak English (or you can ask to be transfered to someone who does).
I personally use les taxis G7, and find them quite reliable, especially on long rides like (such as going to the airport)... But it can be pricey: check out the hidden charges below!
Taxi fares and hidden charges
The starting charge is 2.30 Euros, then it's between 0.92 Euros and 1.42 Euros per minute. But beware of hidden charges: 1 Euro extra per piece of luggage or bulky items (like a stroller, but no charge for wheelchair), 3 Euros for the 4th passenger... and a minimum fare of 6.20 Euros.
The elusive "waiting" charge
But mostly, you should be aware of the "waiting" charge, especially when you call in a cab: the driver is allowed to turn on the meter when he leaves to meet you, so expect a few extra Euros on the meter when the taxi arrives.
However, that can become quite a large sum if you book a taxi in the morning and the driver trips the meter leaving home in the suburbs... I have seen as much 20€ or more already on the meter when I get into the car...
Unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do about this... if you don't want to risk it, go and wait at a taxi stand...
What about a car seat?
You'd better bring your own! If you book your taxi in advance, you may ask for a car seat; some companies provide one. But although it's the law in France that babies/ children must ride in an appropriate car seat, taxis usually don't have seats in their trunks, and they won't care that you are traveling with your child on your lap.
Are pets allowed?
Usually, it's not a problem for small dogs. Allowing a bigger dog is at the driver's discretion.
Beware of private limo drivers approaching you at the airport
They will tell you they charge the same as a regular taxi, but it is not true. They charge more, and it is not legal. It's not usually dangerous per se, just not a good idea... Some of them are private limo drivers, others are simply plain drivers, with no taxi license whatsoever and often no particular taxi insurance... Don't encourage that illegal business practice, and go to the taxi line like everybody else :-)
How to tip a taxi driver
It is not compulsory, but sort of expected. It's customary in France to tip your taxi driver. I usually leave one euro when the drive is about 10 Euros, and 2 or 3 Euros when it's around 50 Euros. But if you feel you had a helpful/ courteous driver, larger tips are always appreciated!