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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Paris/London: public transport dilemma

Besides having a hard time drafting our London itinerary,  there's another issue that put me in a quandary; deciding the best way to get around the cities. Here, I listed out my public transport dilemma:

CDG Airport to Paris city
After negotiating the maze that is CDG airport, this will be the next milestone for first time visitor like us. From what I read, there are three popular methods used by travellers to get into the city (and vice versa).
By taxi: Taxis can be easily found outside the terminal building. The good thing about taxis is they deliver you right in front of the hotel. But, taxi is expensive compared to other modes of transportation. According to this site, a single taxi ride from airport to the city is estimated to be around 40 to 50 Euros. We will only use taxi if there's no other options.
By bus: The Roissybus has pickup points at every airport terminal. Single fare cost about 10 Euros, and it take an hour to reach the city. Bus departs every 15-20 minutes. It shuttles passengers between CDG airport and Opera district in Paris. Another option is the AirFrance bus. Since our hotel is located quite far from the bus city terminals, this is not the best option for us.

By train: We plan to take the RER B (Paris's suburban train line B), because it will bring us straight to Gare du Nord, just 5 minutes walk to our hotel. The train travels frequently from early morning until midnight. Ticket cost about 10 Euros and journey time is less than 30 minutes. I found this site, parisbytrain which gives step-by-step guides for RER and other transportation topics in Paris.

Paris Visite, Navigo decourvete, or carnet?

Paris is a very walkable city. In fact, we plan to walk a LOT to enjoy the city's life and architectures. But at some points, we have to take public transports, be it bus, metro or the RER. We are considering the best option to travel in the most flexible but economical way. The first two that I mentioned above are travel passes to get around Paris. Paris Visite for zone 1-3 (valid for 5 days) will cost us about 34 Euros and we have to buy additional pass for the remaining days. Not a good option. Meanwhile, Navigo decourvete is a weekly pass valid from Monday to the following Sunday, which coincides with our stay there. The price is much cheaper at 24 Euros including card fees. But we have to bring passport sized photo to be pasted on it.

At the end, I think it is so much hassle to choose a travel pass and we will just buy carnets. Carnet de billets (book of tickets) is simply a pack of 10 individual tickets valid for bus, metro and RER in Paris zone 1-2. 10 tickets will cost us 12.5 Euros and has no expiry date.

Oyster Card: Pay as you go or Travelcard?
At first, we have the same dilemma for London. Fortunately, Transport for London has a very informative website (have you visit our KTM Berhad page recently?). Oyster is a smartcard that can be loaded with credits to be used for public transports including bus and tube. The card itself cost 5 pounds but refundable. Single tube journey cost around 2 pounds, so in 7 days we need at least 30 pounds credited. Finally, I decided that we shall buy 7 days travelcard loaded into the Oyster card. The cost (including refundable Oyster deposit) is about 35 pounds, save the headaches.

In summary, I think in Paris the travel passes are overpriced and it is cheaper to buy standard paper tickets. However, it is the opposite for London and travelcard will give us better value for money. Just my personal opinion.

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