- Museums and monuments
- Post offices, banks, offices and public services
- Public transport
- Explanation of daylight saving time
- How to call France from France
- How to call France from abroad
- How to call from France to another country
- Telephone cards ("telecartes")
You feel like having lunch at 3pm, visiting a museum or a monument after 8pm, or buying a CD at 11 on Sunday night…? In Paris everything is possible as long as you have the right information.
The majority of shops are open all day from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday. Some smaller shops may close over lunchtime between midday and 2pm, or all day on Monday. Sundays and public holidays are the usual closing days, although there are some exceptions...
During the week, the department stores all have one late-night opening day, known as a “nocturne” until 9pm. Supermarkets are open at different times depending on the neighbourhood, every day except Sunday, until 8, 9 or 10pm.
During the sales or in December just before the holidays, most stores, both large and small, may also open on Sundays. During the remainder of the year, take a stroll through the Marais or along the Champs-Elysées, where shopping is on the menu 365 days a year, sometimes even until midnight. In other districts more and more shops are opening on Sundays and holidays.
It’s worth knowing that a good many smaller shops close for their annual holidays from mid-July to end-August.
Museums open at 9 or 10am and close between 5 and 6pm. Usual closing days are Monday or Tuesday, with a few exceptions mentioned in our information pages. Some are even open 7 days a week, such as some of the major monuments which can even be visited as late as 11pm or midnight.
Many museums have a late-night opening once a week until 9 or 10pm. On public holidays – in particular, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December – many museums and monuments are closed.
You’ll find all the details in our information pages.
Open 365 days a year :
- Tour Eiffel
- Tour Montparnasse
- Musée Jacquemart-André
- Espace Salvador Dali
- Musée de l'Erotisme
Most post offices are open from 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8am to midday on Saturday. They are closed on public holidays.
Banks are generally open from 9am to 5pm, from Monday to Friday or from Tuesday to Saturday. Some branches may close over lunchtime, usually between 12.30pm and 2pm. For cash withdrawals, automatic cashpoints (ATMs) operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Banks are closed on public holidays.
As a rule, offices are open between 9am and 6pm.
Public services generally close at 4.30pm or 5pm (or earlier on Friday afternoons). They are closed at lunchtime and on public holidays.
As a general rule, Parisians go for lunch between midday and 1.30pm and dine between 8pm and 10.30pm. At other times, you’ll always be able to find a snack in most cafés and “brasseries”. If the restaurant has a sign saying “service continu”, this indicates that you can have a meal at any time of day.
The majority of bars and cafés open early, around 7 or 8 am and close around 10pm, or later if the establishment has a special dispensation (2am for the bars).
**New: Improvements to night-time transport in Paris
The entire Parisian metro service will operate on Saturday evenings until 2.15 am from 23 December 2006, and on Friday evenings until 2.15 am from 29 June 2007.
The Noctilien night bus service is adding 7 new bus routes to its network.**
You can be sure to find a metro or RER train every day between 6am and 0.30am, wherever you might be along the line. The majority of bus routes operate from 7am to 8.30pm, some lines continuing until 0.30am. Then the Noctilien bus operates from 0.30am to 5.30am. As regards taxis, you’ll find them 24 hours a day.
The Parisian transport network has its rush hours: at the time when most residents of Paris and Ile-de-France set off for work, between 8am and 10am, and when they head home again, between 5pm and 8pm. Saturday is also a very busy day, as many Parisians use it for their shopping expeditions. It becomes increasingly difficult to find a free taxi on Saturday evenings, particularly after midnight, as Paris is out on the town!
GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
In Paris the time is GMT + 1
Ex : when it’s midday GMT, it’s 1pm in Paris.
In Paris the time is GMT + 2
Ex : when it’s midday GMT, it’s 2pm in Paris.
In France, as in the UK and some other countries, we change to summer time on the last Sunday in March at 2 in the morning, so the clocks are put forward to 3am. Then in preparation for the winter, the clocks go back an hour on the last Sunday in October at 3am, which then becomes 2am.
How do you define a Parisian? The usual clichés would have us believe that they are always in a hurry, stressed and arrogant, though their image also blends with that of the French lover, romantic and “bon vivant”. However, it’s not such a difficult task to “tame” the Parisien.
Habits and customs of Parisian life
The Parisian may seem rather aloof, as he speeds, deep in thought, from point A to point B, but don’t be deceived by appearances. Just like most French people, he is always ready for a celebration, to have a good time, to lounge on the café terraces, river banks and park lawns in the summer.
All year round, our Parisian likes the good things in life, enjoys meeting friends and colleagues over discussions in cafés, loves to go out in the evening to sample a new restaurant and regularly visits the cinema and the theatre. At the weekend, evenings are reserved for the latest trendy bars and clubs. He can’t do without his small espresso coffee in the mornings before work, standing at the counter of his favourite bar or outside on the terrace, while glancing at the newspaper.
For a successful exchange with the good people of Paris, be it in the shops, restaurants, cafés or simply to ask your way in the street, don’t hesitate to display your most charming smile, while uttering the magic words: “bonjour” (hello), “s’il vous plaît” (please) and “merci” (thank you). A few words in French will work wonders, even if you don’t speak the language. The effort will be appreciated and your accent will delight. You’ll see that the people of Paris can be welcoming !
Don’t be surprised if you happen to see men and women all over the place greeting each other with 4 kisses on the cheek, it’s typical of the city and a mark of friendship. When you haven’t yet reached the degree of familiarity kissing requires, a firm handshake is also a good form of greeting or a way to thank a shopkeeper or someone who has been particularly helpful.
Pedestrians, be extremely careful when crossing the road, watch out for cars, motorbikes and scooters and even rollerbladers, as the average Parisian tends to take liberties where road safety is concerned. Look both ways before crossing the road, and make sure you respect, unlike some drivers, the zebra crossings and traffic lights. Parisians of all ages like the thrill of dashing across at the last second. Don’t attempt to do the same!
You can keep in touch with family and friends either by traditional methods or by using the latest technology. Making a phone call is as easy as pie: you’ll find telephone booths in most places. Remember to send postcards, they are always much appreciated by those you’ve left behind… and you can also send a cyber card from our web site! For speed: an e-mail, cyber cafés even offer keyboards compatible with the Japanese system.
A polyglot city
You come from abroad and don’t speak French? In Paris, you will usually find someone who speaks a smattering of English, which is the leading foreign language studied at school in France. Numerous efforts are made to guide you in Shakespeare’s language, and even in German, Spanish, Italian or Japanese, particularly in the tourist areas, hotels, museums and monuments, public transport or department stores. Paris does everything to help you feel at home here.
In the different offices of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, you’ll find reception staff who speak different languages and multilingual publications.
Do your suitcases contain the latest electronic gadgets or electrical appliances that you just can’t do without? Do you plan to treat yourself to a video souvenir, in the form of a cassette or DVD? Remember that electrical and video standards may well be different from those adopted in your own country. Here are a few tips to help you avoid any unpleasant surprises.
In France the norm is 220 volts, with a frequency of 50 Hz, while in the United States or Canada, for example, it is 110 volts for 60 Hz. Voltage and sockets vary from country to country and so an adapter and also a transformer will be necessary… Make sure you bring these with you, or else you might risk kissing your favourite electric razor or hairdryer goodbye, not to mention blowing the electricity in the whole hotel! If you’ve forgotten to bring these important accessories, you’ll be able to find them in electrical goods and DIY stores or hypermarkets. Most major hotels can also provide them. For information, French plugs are equipped with two round pins.
There are three different television standards in use throughout the world: PAL, NTSC and SECAM. These systems, basically incompatible, refer to the way in which the colours forming the image are combined and coded. PAL is used in most European countries, in Asia and Australia, NTSC in North and South America and in Japan, and SECAM in France, Eastern Europe and in Africa.
SECAM and PAL have enough similarities to make them both compatible with the majority of video equipment available in Europe. However, SECAM and NTSC are not compatible.
Do check that any video equipment or cassettes that you purchase in Paris will be compatible with the system used in your country. If not, you may well end up with a video you can’t watch, or at best, black and white instead of colour pictures.
Be sure that any DVD you purchase here is compatible with your equipment at home. For commercial reasons, in order to avoid a film being available on DVD at the same time as its general cinema release, the DVD market is split into several regions:
Region 1: USA and Canada
Region 2: Europe, Middle East, Japan and South Africa
Region 3: South East Asia
Region 4: South America and Australia
Region 5: Eastern Europe and Africa
Region 6: China
So in France, you are in zone 2. If you take a DVD home from Paris, it may not be able to be decoded by your player, unless it is region-free. In addition, the video format (PAL, SECAM or NTSC) must be compatible too, for a DVD to work properly. So ensure you check the relevant details before you buy.
The system of measurement used in France, as in the majority of European countries, is the metric system, and temperatures are expressed in degrees Centigrade. But if you come from the United Kingdom or the United States, some of these units of measurement may be a little less familiar, and if so, you’ll find our conversion tables useful.
It’s worth noting too, that in France decimals are indicated by a comma and not a point, as in English-speaking countries.
Conversion tables for the most common weights and measures
|1 gramme (g)||0.0353 ounce|
|1 kilo(gramme) (kg)||2.204 pounds|
|1 centimètre (cm)||0.393 inch|
|1 mètre (m)||3.281 feet / 1.093 yard|
|1 kilomètre (km)||0.621 mile|
|1 centilitre (cl)||0.021 US pint / 0.0176 UK pint|
|1 litre (l)||0.264 US gallon / 0.220 UK gallon|
|1litre (l)||2.1 US pints / 1.76 UK pint|
|UK / USA||Metric|
|1 ounce (oz)||28,349 gramme|
|1 pound (lb)||0,453 kilo(gramme)|
|1 inch (in)||2,540 centimètres|
|1 foot (ft)||0,304 mètres|
|1 yard (yd) = 3 feet||0,914 mètres|
|1 mile (mi) = 1760 yards||1,609 kilomètres|
|1 US pint (pt)||0,473 litres|
|1 UK pint (pt)||0,568 litres|
|1 US gallon (gal)||3,785 litres|
|1 UK gallon (gal)||4,456 litres|
A baguette of bread: 250 g = 8.825 oz
A half of beer: 25 cl = 0.52 US pt or 0.44 UK pt
Eiffel Tower: 324 m = 1063.04 ft
Champs-Elysées: 2 km = 1.24 mi
Conversion table for Centigrade / Farenheit
To make it less confusing and enable you to ask for the correct size, here are the equivalents.
|34||extra small (XS)||6||32|
|42||extra large (XL)||14||40|
|44||extra extra large (XXL)||16||42|
M : men
L : ladies
|39||M 7/L 8.5||6|
|40||M 7.5/L 9||6.5|
|41||M 8.5/L 10||7.5|
|42||M 9/L 10.5||8|
Over 20,000 waste containers are at your disposal, in the streets and in the metro. To ignore them means risking a fine, because it is prohibited to throw rubbish on the public highway.
Make sure you don’t throw your chewing gum on the floor either - it holds no appeal for the soles of your shoes and ruins the paving stones. Public waste containers are green.
When the Vigipirate security measures are activated, they are sealed and replaced by large translucent bags. It may be that certain symbolic districts highly-frequented by tourists, such as the Champs-Elysées, don’t have any waste bins in sight for reasons of security and so need constant upkeep. In this case, please hold on to your rubbish until you come across the nearest dustbin.
All over the city, an army of municipal employees with their modern machines are kept busy every day making Paris a cleaner, more pleasant place for you to visit. Even the Seine quaysides are scrubbed down once a week. Finally, don’t be surprised if you find all the city waste bins sealed or quite simply removed, it’ll be for security reasons.
Selective sorting of waste is in place in city housing. You’ll come across large green containers for the recycling of glass. Dog-owners are required to clean up after their canines or risk a fine (up to €450).
Paris, a clean city… reality or fantasy? It’s up to you. A clean city depends above all on each and every one of us, so let’s do the right thing.
In Paris you will find 12 “superloos”, open from 6am to 10pm, and 24 lavatories, open from 10am to noon and from 1pm to 6:15pm. These public toilets are free and clean themselves automatically after each visitor.
While cafés do not always welcome us using their toilet facilities without having a drink there, department stores offer free facilities. Shopping centres and arcades also usually have toilets, some free, some not. You have to pay to go to the toilets in railway stations (€1), but they are free at the airports.
You will also find supervised toilets in most of the large parks and gardens in the city.
All public toilets in Paris
Point WC, a new concept
A new upmarket concept of public toilets, Point WC, has made an appearance on the Champs-Elysées! For a modest sum, they offer impeccable hygiene and attractive decoration plus a range of “well-being” services. Boutiques, veritable concept stores, are also at your disposal, with a choice of “beauty and health products” and women’s toiletries, as well as accessories for the smallest room, decorative objects, etc. To round off your relaxing stop, you will also find coffee and snacks to take away.
There are some places where your pet may not be welcome, or only under certain conditions. In the case of guide dogs for the disabled, however, they are authorized by law in all establishments and modes of transport.
Paris and our four-legged friends
On a lead or in a carry-case, a small animal (no more than 45 cm) is accepted on public transport. Animals are not allowed in food shops. Dog-owners are required to dispose of any deposits left by their pets, otherwise they risk fines of up to €450.
When you make your hotel booking, don’t forget to ask if they are prepared to accept your pet, and if so, subject to which conditions. The charge can vary from hotel to hotel, but usually ranges from €5 to €15 per animal. Be as precise as possible, because a hotel may refuse dogs over a certain size for example. As far as guide-dogs are concerned, they are accepted, by law, in all hotels and may also incur a supplementary charge.
In museums and monuments, only guide dogs for the disabled are accepted.
There are some small parks and gardens that do not allow dogs. You will find a sign confirming this at the entrance. But you can happily gambol with your four-legged friend in the Bois de Boulogne (75016) and Bois de Vincennes (75012) or the Parc des Buttes Chaumont (75019), as long as you keep him on a lead. Some gardens, like the Parc Georges Brassens (75015), provide special circuits for dogs.