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TAKING A TAXI IN PARIS

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It is best to gain a bit of etiquette, as the employment of this type of transportation in Paris, taxi-taking can be idiosyncratic, if not downright frustrating for the novice passenger.

As far as public transportation goes, the Paris metro system is positively brilliant and will get you where you want to go, easily and efficiently. It is fairly inexpensive and one can buy a carnet (a book ) of ten tickets for ten euros, which equals one euro per ride. You can’t beat that. But for the times when you just don’t feel like being underground, when a ride through the streets of Paris fits the bill, there is, the taxi.

BASICS

1. Paris taxis come in all colors and two sizes, small and smaller.

But they do all have a rooftop taxi sign and when it is completely illuminated, it is free to take on passengers.

When just the orange bulb is lit, the taxi is occupied.

2. Taxi stands are everywhere, visible by their bright blue background and white “TAXI” sign.

If there are people waiting, get in line and don’t let anyone cut in front of you. At busy times of the day, there are generally enough taxis pulling up, to make wait-time short. The alternative is to wave down a taxi on the street, but if you are one block within a taxi stand, drivers will not stop for you.

3. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses will gladly call a taxi for you, but be aware that the meter starts running when the driver is on his way to pick you up.

4. Don’t expect drivers to understand English very well. It is a good idea to have your destination written down, and also, to carry a card from the hotel, or the address of where you are staying. When communication breaks down, the written word can alleviate stress.

5. Make sure you have cash in small denominations. Most taxis do not accept credit cards. A 10% tip is expected. The minimum fare begins at around 6 euros and there are extra charges for certain things. For instance, drivers are required by law to take only three passengers. There is a charge of just under 3 euros for a fourth passenger. Also, if a piece of luggage is required to go into the trunk, the passenger is charged 1 euro per bag. All fees are posted inside the rear door window, including airport and train station rates.

6. Drivers may refuse pick you up if they are close to being off-duty and your destination does not match up with their route back to the garage.

7. It is very common for passengers to accidentally leave items inside the taxi. Ask for a receipt (un ticket) with the taxi number written on it, which makes article retrieval, possible.

8. Remember, as a passenger you have the right to choose your radio station and your route, and you may not be refused because the distance is not long enough.

9. The driver reserves the right to refuse a drunk person or someone with poor personal hygiene.

10. Please do not slam the door of the taxi when entering or leaving, as this will anger your driver. Try to be a courteous passenger, and hope for the same in return.

THE GREAT WORLD WAR I TAXI STORY

Can taxi drivers be heroes?. I think this story proves they can.

When one learns about the hardships endured during the fighting of World War I, the trench warfare, brutal winter extremes, poor rations, insufficient clothing and primitive medical care, the stories of courage and heroism begin to emerge. How could you win a war, fought under such challenging conditions, if the human spirit was not able to conjure up tremendous acts of courage and endurance.

On September 6th, 1914, the French Army’s 7th Division had arrived by train, to join up with the 6th Army, in defense of the capital against the invading Germans. The commanding officer of the disembarking French troops, soon learned that there was no means available to transport his men from the train station, to the sides of their fellow soldiers of the 6th, who were already engaged in the Battle of the Marne, proving to be a pivotal point in the fight to protect Paris.

In a flash of brilliance, the commander-in-chief requested the enlistment of every available taxi and driver to aid in the movement of his troops to the front.

Thus it happened that a convoy of 600 Paris taxis transported approximately 6,000 men into combat, where the French Army was able, with the help of other Allied Troops, to drive the Germans into retreat.

To see real footage of the parade of taxis, go to:

www.firstworldwar.com/video/taxisofthemarne.htm



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