Before the explosion of iPhones, I used to recommend that everyone traveling to Paris invest in a really good map, like the Plan de Paris par Arrondissement, by A. Leconte. But now, since most people have a smartphone, it’s all about the Paris apps.
After you’ve booked your flight and decided where you are staying (hotel or apartment), figuring out how to get around, even if you’ve been to Paris before, is the biggest struggle. Maneuvering around Paris is not simple. You can hop in a taxi, but it’s not always so easy to find one, especially when it’s raining or during rush hour. Three essential Paris apps can solve most of your transport problems, and yes, you need all three.
Before you go, download the G7 or Taxis Bleus app. Both allow you to book a taxi on your smartphone ahead of time. Each stores your home address, and you can simply press “order my taxi” (it’s in English!), then answer a few questions, and your taxi will normally arrive in about 5–10 minutes. If you are at a restaurant, no problem. In a few seconds, under the table, without anyone even noticing, you can order one or even two taxis for your crowd. The taxi comes with a fare already on the meter, reflecting the cost for the driver to get from his or her starting position to you. What’s best is that you can track the cab as the driver gets close
Photo via iamthatgirl.com.
Of course downloading the metro map is absolutely essential. I turn to Mappy to find the best route, whether by bus or metro. The service also provides a time estimate for the trip. I wish Mappy had an app, but if you are concerned about roaming, then plan your trips ahead of time from your laptop or computer while at your apartment or hotel.
A downloadable, expandable Paris map for your phone, while not very interactive and not as good as Google Maps, will be helpful if you are on an international data plan while you travel. Pocket Earth is rated the highest for speed of download and navigability.
Note: Be sure to tell your phone company that you are traveling in Europe and buy the best data usage plan ahead of time. Pretending it’s not an issue will result in an astronomic cell phone bill.
Photo by Marjorie Williams.
If you are caught in a store or perhaps at the flea market and find someone who speaks absolutely no English, turn to the tried-and-true Google Translate app. Quick and easy, it has saved me many times. And if you plan on going to the flea market, download Keys to the Fleas, cocreated by Claudia Strasser, author of The Paris Apartment.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Girls’ Guide walking trips. We offer several packages that you can download via iTunes or for your Android device. It pays to have a handy triping app so you don’t stick out like the obvious tripist, with a guidebook or giant map in hand. Discovering the streets that not every trip book mentions, in your own way and at your own pace, and for very little money, is a delightful way to enjoy the City of Light.